I’ve heard a lot of talk about how AI is going to make me — a journalist, someone in the workforce, a human — obsolete or whatever, and so I wondered: is that even true?
Here’s Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, speaking in 2019: “I really do believe the work that we’re doing at OpenAI will, like, not only far eclipse the work that I did at YC [startup incubator Y Combinator], but the work that anyone in the tech industry does.” Why is that? Well, he believes that someone is going to build a software system that is “smarter and more capable than humans in every way,” and it might as well be him. “And very quickly, it will go from being a little bit more capable than humans to something that is, like, a million or a billion times more capable than humans.”
Code and GPUs and so on aren’t the real driving force in tech. Money is
Now, Altman is highly motivated to hype AI. After all, dude runs a startup and needs investment. Still, there’s a lot of investment pouring into the field — about $94 billion in 2021, according to Stanford’s AI index, more than double the year before. In 2021, AI companies had 15 different funding rounds that were worth $500 million or more.
Code and GPUs and so on aren’t the real driving force in tech. Money is. AI is expensive! Altman and his ilk have to talk up a big game in order to get the massive sums of money in order to set up AI. His competitors — Google and Facebook — are basically money-printing machines that can afford to burn cash on experimental tech without having to hype it.