Ever since ChatGPT shook the world in terms of how close we are to AI being in our lives, we have been featuring pieces to help improve our understanding amidst all the hype and noise. Whilst some of these pieces have been looking at the potentially harmful effects of AI, here’s a positive piece to balance. It is not necessarily unbiased as the author is heavily invested in the commercial success of AI. Marc Andreessen made his name in the browser industry being the founder of Netscape amongst other start ups before becoming a successful venture capitalist, founding his own VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (now known as a16z). Whilst biased, it is worth hearing out Marc given his landmark essay from 2011 – Why software is eating the world and more recently as the pandemic hit us – It’s time to build. The long read begins with ‘Why AI can make everything we care about better’:

  • Every child will have an AI tutor that is infinitely patient, infinitely compassionate, infinitely knowledgeable, infinitely helpful. The AI tutor will be by each child’s side every step of their development, helping them maximize their potential with the machine version of infinite love.
  • Every person will have an AI assistant/coach/mentor/trainer/advisor/therapist that is infinitely patient, infinitely compassionate, infinitely knowledgeable, and infinitely helpful. The AI assistant will be present through all of life’s opportunities and challenges, maximizing every person’s outcomes.
  • Every scientist will have an AI assistant/collaborator/partner that will greatly expand their scope of scientific research and achievement. Every artist, every engineer, every businessperson, every doctor, every caregiver will have the same in their worlds.
  • Every leader of people – CEO, government official, nonprofit president, athletic coach, teacher – will have the same. The magnification effects of better decisions by leaders across the people they lead are enormous, so this intelligence augmentation may be the most important of all.
  • Productivity growth throughout the economy will accelerate dramatically, driving economic growth, creation of new industries, creation of new jobs, and wage growth, and resulting in a new era of heightened material prosperity across the planet.
  • Scientific breakthroughs and new technologies and medicines will dramatically expand, as AI helps us further decode the laws of nature and harvest them for our benefit.
  • The creative arts will enter a golden age, as AI-augmented artists, musicians, writers, and filmmakers gain the ability to realize their visions far faster and at greater scale than ever before.
  • I even think AI is going to improve warfare, when it has to happen, by reducing wartime death rates dramatically. Every war is characterized by terrible decisions made under intense pressure and with sharply limited information by very limited human leaders. Now, military commanders and political leaders will have AI advisors that will help them make much better strategic and tactical decisions, minimizing risk, error, and unnecessary bloodshed.
  • In short, anything that people do with their natural intelligence today can be done much better with AI, and we will be able to take on new challenges that have been impossible to tackle without AI, from curing all diseases to achieving interstellar travel.
  • And this isn’t just about intelligence! Perhaps the most underestimated quality of AI is how humanizing it can be. AI art gives people who otherwise lack technical skills the freedom to create and share their artistic ideas. Talking to an empathetic AI friend really does improve their ability to handle adversity. And AI medical chatbots are already more empathetic than their human counterparts. Rather than making the world harsher and more mechanistic, infinitely patient and sympathetic AI will make the world warmer and nicer.

But he dedicates the latter half to address why the fears around AI are unwarranted. Specifically, he addresses the questions:

  • AI Risk #1: Will AI kill us all?
  • AI Risk #2: Will AI ruin our society?
  • AI Risk #3: Will AI take all our jobs?
  • AI Risk #4: Will AI lead to crippling inequality?
  • AI Risk #5: Will AI lead to people doing bad things?

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