By 2030, “AI will do 80 percent of 80 percent of all jobs we know of today,” renowned venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said last week at the Tech Live conference, sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.
Khosla was one of the original investors in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, which sparked the current AI revolution.
He likened AI’s impact on jobs to the migration of workers from farms to factories. However, that shift happened over decades, from the late 1800s to the early 20th century in the U.S. and even earlier in Great Britain. In contrast, AI’s impact is likely to be felt over just a few years, he stressed.
Perhaps even more startling, Khosla predicted that by 2050, people will work only if they choose to; AI will create so much productivity and prosperity that AI can provide a rudimentary income for all.
“There’s room for universal basic income assuring a minimum standard and people will be able to work on the things they want to work on,” he added.
However, giving people a basic income will not be enough, Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, countered in his comments at the conference.
People will still need ways to fill and give meaning to time, to feel useful and productive, and to “add something back to the trajectory of the species,” he said.
The AI revolution will take more from some people than others and erase entire career fields while creating new ones, he acknowledged.
“People need to have agency, the ability to influence,” he contended. “We need to jointly be architects of the future.”
TRENDPOST: Bill Gates and others have advocated taxing each job AI takes as if it’s a human worker in that role. The idea is to keep government tax revenue level even as large numbers of workers are turfed out of their jobs. A portion of the money can then fund retraining programs or basic incomes for those unable to find new work.
However, there are jobs that will still need to be done by humans in the age of AI. At least for the foreseeable future, a human will still need to clean your teeth, for example, or replace a leaking water pipe in your house.
Especially if AI is paying the bills, those essential human tasks are likely to pay premium wages to entice people to do them. Also, AI is likely to make it much more possible than now for people to share jobs. That would allow people to continue to find personal meaning through work and earning while allowing them more time to sculpt, preach, rebuild antique cars, and pursue other passions.
As always, technology is advancing far faster than our ability to grasp the consequences and steer its direction. Businesses, legislators, and other leaders need to begin and continue this exploration now, not in theoretical terms but to develop a practical plan to minimize the vast disruption that AI is already beginning to create.