tl;dr — AI lowers the cost of labor for common digital goods/services, increases value of authentic human experiences/skill and bespoke work, people move towards doing what they WANT vs what they HAVE to do?
Today’s goal is to imagine what the world looks like 10 years into the future with AI.
A friend of mine had hypothesized that the creator economy will get overtaken by generative AI. Eventually, the cost of creating high-quality, entertaining content (stories, images, clips, movies?) will go down with the help of AI across the entire content creation pipeline (story, assets, FX, etc). I believe this is likely true. I don’t think AI will necessarily replace animation studios or artists, but AI will make some jobs far easier than before, and the demand for those types of jobs will be lower.
An interesting thought: what happens when this scales across all digital industries?
One way to think about this is that AI can/will/has radically lowered the cost of labor for all these different digital/knowledge jobs and industries. These genAI services are not truly free. You’re just paying a different “person” to get the job done, and the JTBD are still the same, regarding entertainment creation, discovery, selection, consumption, etc. Rather than pay a person or company thousands of dollars to <create or improve a movie, a song, a design, an app, a customer support center, a sales team, a marketing team, etc.>, now you’re paying O($100) a year for some company’s AI models to do that for you.
Put simply: if cost was no longer a factor and all you had to pay was a few dollars to do ANYTHING digital, what happens?
Imagine if you had a team of “digital employees” that you only had to pay pennies per task and could ask them to do ANYTHING — respond to my emails, write my docs/code, find the best movies to watch, entertain me, plan trips and birthdays, build an app or company, write nice letters to my mom, buy a nice gift for my wife, invest my money, order food, chat with my friends, summarize news, etc. — what then happens to people and a society that is left with so much choice and optionality? What happens to the value of knowledge work, and to companies that primarily offer knowledge/professional services? What does authenticity mean and how does one create confidence around “made by me” vs “made by others”? How much help can a person get until their work no longer counts as “made by a human”?
There was a time when there weren’t very many “options”. Growing up, there were only a few big video games to play each year, or a few major tv shows and movies to watch, or a few primary websites to surf, etc. Back then, the main concern was being able to access and afford these few options. Now, there’s too many tv shows and streaming services and websites and games and apps. Now, the main concern is finding what is good and filtering down the selection to what is worth spending my time on.
Tomorrow, in this future with AI, the choices become limitless because rather than having to find what you want, you can just ask someone/something to create what you want for trivial cost. Tomorrow, perhaps what we end up living lives free from conventional constraints and “things I HAVE to do”, and instead living by “doing things I WANT to do.”
Perhaps then, the main concern will be about how I want to live my life and what do I want to learn, not because I need to, but because it’s interesting. Perhaps knowledge worker jobs will dramatically lower in demand, and computers and AI will do most of the work, and instead the labor and industries around physical goods and in-person/authentic human services will significantly increase in value.
On the other hand, perhaps everyone falls into their own echo chambers and mostly consumes the content and the world they want to live in (pretty sure AI porn will be a thing). Perhaps people will feel even more distant and less connected, like a digital version of the “always on your smartphone” effect, except you won’t be able to even tell if someone is just multitasking on you.
Ultimately, I believe the fate of the future is in our hands. And by that, I don’t just mean the big companies with the latest genAI models. AI and large language models and all this tech are just tools, and it’s up to the people how we use it for good, and protect people and the world from abuse.