- Thousands of AI tools will be developed, each of them performing a specialized function so that we don’t have to, says Signal and Cipher CEO Ian Beacraft.
- One result will be the birth of “just in time skills,” which takes its cue from the “just in time” manufacturing process.
- Soon most content we consume will be synthetic. It’s a logical leap from Alexa and Siri to conversing with our avatar, and even having feelings for it.
A lot of people are afraid they’re going to lose their jobs to a machine, but we won’t. We’ll just lose our job descriptions.
“Generative AI is digitizing skillsets, making them programmable and upgradeable,” says Ian Beacraft, CEO of Signal and Cipher, in a SXSW session. “As a result, a new class of generalists will dominate the era of generative AI.”
With expertise and experience no longer needed to perform with proficiency, those people with a breadth of experience “and passionate curiosity” will rise to the top, says Beacraft.
“With AI, individual creators can become armies of one.”
This will flip the corporate world on its head, he says.
“I believe that this is the moment of the greatest revolution of knowledge work in human history.”
He takes his lead from the Industrial Revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries, when many manual jobs were mechanized.
“Now we’re doing the same thing with the mind. When you extract the need for labor to be present for something, you free it to do other things like manage process, enhance the product, or even think of other ideas.”
That’s a simplistic reading of the Industrial Revolution, which enslaved hundreds of thousands of people to machines and passed newfound wealth and power into the hands of a small cadre of capitalists. Did your average factory worker suddenly enjoy the freedom to reinvent their lives and forge new ideas? No, they were too busy trying to put bread on the table to feed their families.
Anyhow, the AI revolution won’t do that, will it? Not according to Beacraft, who is an AI booster.
He thinks that hundreds or thousands of AI tools will be developed, each of them performing a specialized function so that we don’t have to. That’s why humans will become generalists in whichever industry they’re in, because our new role will be to curate, tweak and stack AIs to do particular jobs.
“This is the era of the creative generalist. We come from a space where we are all tooled to specialize from early age. When you’re specialized you build your expertise, become an expert, and become indispensable in that space,” he says.
“Well, now we’re in an era where AI can outpace any one individual very quickly in a specific domain. The idea of specializing early [in your career] can actually be a detriment. Those who have expertise and depth in several domains and interests and passionate curiosity across a broad swathe, are the people who are going to dominate the next era.”
One result will be the birth of “just in time skills,” which takes its cue from the “just in time” manufacturing process.
“If I need to for a minute put my copywriting hat on, I can do that. If my project manager’s out for a minute and I need to their job for a moment, I can use my tools to just slide in that direction. All of a sudden I have the capability to jump into a role as needed and I have the expertise I need to perform that role on demand.”
This is going to be the big change in corporate organization. “When your organization no longer expects incremental growth in a specific role, but you have teams of people working horizontally with a strong depth of expertise in a particular area. All of that new capability is net new, not incremental.”
The next step is that these AI tools will actually start to learn how to use other AI tools themselves.
“Even our relationships will change,” Beacraft insists. “In a time where our behaviors are guided by algorithms, and humans become more machine-like, machines are becoming more human. AI companions provoke emotions and elicit feelings of romance, while children are less concerned with whether their friends are real or synthetic.”
Soon most content we consume will be synthetic. It’s a mere extension from Alexa and Siri to conversing with our avatar.
“While so many of us would like to say I can’t be tricked into having feelings for an AI, there are people who would be beg to differ.
“Have you ever cried or yelled at a movie or a book and even stuffed animals as a kid? We already develop bonds with other species — dogs, horses, cats, our pets, fictional characters so why would AI be any different?”