There are many who fear that in the future, AI will do more and more of the jobs done by humans, leaving us without meaningful work. To believe this is a colossal failure of the imagination. The weavers of Ned Ludd’s time couldn’t imagine that the descendants of those looms they so feared would make goods so cheap that people like them would live more richly than the monarchs of Europe, that we would fly through the air, tunnel under the sea and mountains, and double our average lifespan. What wonders might we accomplish with the help of the machines of today if we put them to work on the world’s great unsolved problems? When machines do more of the drudgery, we see that uniqueness, craft, and brand provide a creative premium in the human economy. But we will only get to the flowering of that Next Economy if we make the right choices today. Tim O’Reilly explains why we can’t just use technology to replace people; we must use it to augment them so that they can do things that were previously impossible.
Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc. His original business plan was simply “interesting work for interesting people,” and that’s worked out pretty well. O’Reilly Media delivers online learning, publishes books, runs conferences, urges companies to create more value than they capture, and tries to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators. Tim has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. In 1998, he organized the meeting where the term “open source software” was agreed on and helped the business world understand its importance. In 2004, with the Web 2.0 Summit, he defined how “Web 2.0” represented not only the resurgence of the web after the dot-com bust but a new model for the computer industry based on big data, collective intelligence, and the internet as a platform. In 2009, with his Gov 2.0 Summit, he framed a conversation about the modernization of government technology that has shaped policy and spawned initiatives at the federal, state, and local level and around the world. He has now turned his attention to implications of AI, the on-demand economy, and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the business world. This is the subject of his book from Harper Business, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us. In addition to his role at O’Reilly Media, Tim is a partner at early-stage venture firm O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV) and serves on the boards of Maker Media (which was spun out from O’Reilly Media in 2012), Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox.
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