While reading through this essay, you might have raised a skeptical eyebrow at some of my predictions. Maybe you think the AI timeline isn’t comparable to that of the internet or other exponential technologies. Or perhaps you believe the AI foundational phase began in 2013 with computer vision. Or maybe you don’t expect AI to reach the abundance phase until 2029.
Even if you agree with every point and prediction in this essay, chances are you have colleagues who don’t. So here is my response to every objection: it doesn’t matter.
This essay isn’t about technology. It’s about how companies respond to the threats and opportunities created by exponential growth. Put aside the academic debates about the why, where, and when. Focus on the what that looms ahead of us: AI Abundance.
AI is inevitable because computers can process data faster and less expensively than people can. Although it might take decades (or longer) before AI can write a bestselling novel or give you a haircut, it will ultimately win the competition on tasks traditionally done by people. AI is the next step in the human-technology evolution.
Customers and investment capital will flow to the first companies that gain a competitive advantage with AI. These companies will use their resources to press their advantage and improve their AI. Their efforts will result in even more customers and capital, which they’ll reinvest into AI.
AI Abundance will suddenly arrive as every company realizes how fast the market is shifting. The cost of entry will skyrocket. Companies that waited to enter the game will be forced into desperate moves. They will be as successful as Toys “R” Us, Blockbuster Video, and your local newspaper were after waiting too long to invest in the internet.
AI Abundance is inevitable. The only uncertain variable is time. In this essay I present a reasonable timeline based on comparable historical examples and AI’s current progress. I believe you have only five years to prepare.
I challenge you to look hard at your corporate priorities and how you’re investing your resources. Is AI the top priority? Is it even in the top five? For the majority of companies, the answer is no. If I’m right about the AI timeline, your company is taking a huge risk.
You need to start investing in AI while it’s still relatively inexpensive and you have time to make the organizational changes necessary for success. Your window of opportunity might be five years, three years, or seven years. But have no doubt: AI-driven startups and tech companies want your customers, and they’ll do everything they can to slam your window shut as fast as possible. History teaches us that you have far less time than you realize.