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Shikhar Ghosh’s Predictions on AI: Termites, not Tornadoes

At the Generative AI World conference September 12-13, we heard from serial entrepreneur and HBS Professor Shikhar Ghosh about AI, and his predictions on what we might experience in the near future. 

 
 
 
Ghosh says exponential AI will eventually weaken business models across a wide range of industries. It will be, he says, “more like termites than tornadoes” – but it is happening, and it’s happening more quickly than we have ever seen before. The technology will cause geopolitical tensions. Things “go global” at the drop of a hat. The 2024 American election may well be the last one that is “decided by humans."
 
With the ability to put an LLM on a phone, every human will have the potential to impact the world in a big way – for better, or worse.
 
Top Quotes
 
“My first company was when mobile first came along – we created the network for roaming … when the Internet came along, we created the protocols for commerce – I’ve seen these two revolutions come through.”

 
“We never had an exponential technology like this… so we don’t fully appreciate the power of an exponential technology. We can’t process information exponentially … the pace at which these things change is dramatic … It really does feel like it’s different (from other previous changes).” 

“Any individual can create great benefits – and great harm."

“Back when the industrial revolution came about, the Chinese civilization had all of the core technologies four to seven centuries before Europe did. The reason why they were unable to have an industrial revolution had to do with the way the technology was diffused.” 

What else did Ghosh have to say?
 
He talked about some of the biggest voices in tech, and about hearing the “three godfathers of AI” weigh in on the future – and disagree.
 
“These are all really smart people,” he said. How can they be so far apart (on predictions)? The answer is that they’re all correct. We have the ability to completely destroy humanity, and the ability to change humanity in positive ways that we have never seen before.”
 
As for the Zuckerberg/Musk ‘cage fight,’ Ghosh said “the real cage fight is in AI.”
 
Ghosh also noted that when the computer science world started to change more rapidly several years ago, he switched up his curriculum as a teacher, to focus on these new questions, and form hypotheses. As for more predictions, Ghosh said we can expect changes to things like the scientific method, and to “the notion of what is true.” Generative and predictive AI, he said, will merge, and the biggest single change will be what happens to our biology.
 
Get the full video of Ghosh’s speech at the conference with a Basic Membership ($89/year) to GAI Insights.
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