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Stability AI CEO says AI will prove more disruptive than the pandemic

“We figured out how to make humans scale,” Emad Mostaque, founder and CEO of Stability AI, told an audience at Goldman Sachs 2023 Disruptive Technology Symposium in London.

The generative artificial-intelligence company’s chief cited a range of examples of the technology’s recent achievements. He explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic, an AI-powered meta-study of mask efficacy led to better policies. Closer to home, he said that when his son was diagnosed with autism, he was able to do an AI-powered literature review that helped him find new ways to help him. Mostaque says 41% of all new software code on GitHub is now AI-generated.

“AI can absorb information very quickly and spit it out,” Mostaque said during an interview with Eric Sheridan, the senior U.S. internet analyst in Goldman Sachs Research. “It’s a bit like a really talented intern with a bad memory,” he said, and when the memory issue gets fixed, AI may be ready for a promotion to analyst or associate level work.

Mostaque offered several predictions about the impact that AI will soon have on business and society — with change coming in entertainment, education, medicine and of course the IT industry itself.

Citing the AI art generation program Midjourney, he described how it is possible to generate images that are almost photorealistic today and will be even better tomorrow. Already the technology is being used in filmmaking and is saving millions of dollars, he said.

“This is massively disruptive for media,” Mostaque said. It has become possible to imagine an AI-generated new season of Game of Thrones. “You’ll see the entire cost structure of media creation, video game creation and others change dramatically.”

Education is another area where Mostaque predicted AI can bring a revolution. What’s been shown to be most effective, he said, is one-to-one instruction. “And now, basically, as of this year, you can have your own personalized tutor that adapts to you,” he said. With AI-powered instruction comes great promise for solving learning challenges, he said, predicting that dyslexia, for example, will be “solved” in the next few years.

A similar dynamic is likely in medicine, he said, citing Google’s recent success in optimizing its large language model to answer medical questions. “We finally have a single file that’s as good as a human doctor,” Mostaque said.

Mostaque acknowledged AI will create challenges. As much as the development of AI holds promise for boosting efficiency and productivity, it also raises fears, including the possibility that workers will see jobs disappear in categories that until recently looked safe.

“This is a much bigger disruption than the pandemic,” he told the audience, going back to his point about AI large language models successfully writing software code. OpenAI’s ChatGPT can pass Google’s exam for a high-level software engineer, Mostaque said, even though it’s a non-specialized model. “There’s no programmers in five years,” he predicted.

Across the software industry, big competitive shifts are coming, Mostaque said, with some companies that have regulatory protection or pricing power benefiting and others seeing their position eroded. Whole new industries will be invented, he added.

The world has been talking about so-called expert systems for decades, but now suddenly, they have actually arrived, Mostaque explained, and the disruption they bring is accelerating. “I’m not sure that any of us can cope with the speed. You know, frankly it’s terrifying,” he said.

CT Bureau

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