You Need to Be a 0.1% Rich Company
There’s no secret to being an AI-startup because you won’t be able to compete with the richest global tech firms in the world.
Pioneering artificial intelligence research will be a field of haves and have-nots. AI will create incredible centralization in power in the future of technology. If you aren’t a GAFMA or China tech dynasty company, you basically won’t have the horsepower to compete in any meaningful way.
Why is that?
The Future of AI is Not Democratic, It’s Autocratic
It’s no secret to most of us and computer scientists keep telling us A.I. research is becoming increasingly expensive, requiring complex calculations done by giant data centers, leaving fewer people with easy access to the computing firepower necessary to develop the technology behind futuristic products.
Dreaming of building an AI R&D lab? You’ll need deep pockets: Tax filing reveals millions of bucks OpenAI alone spent on cloud ML compute. Just look at how expensive the average employee at DeepMind is, you sort of get an idea.
Eventually only China will have the capability of pushing this field forwards, ahead of Silicon Valley old whales. In that reality circa 2035, even Amazon and Google will have trouble competing.
While Silicon Valley have told us that “artificial intelligence” will boost global GDP and improve quality of life and convenience, it’s what they don’t tell us that should scare us the most.
It’s a familiar story to those of us who follow technology and BigTech. The haves will be mainly a few big tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, which each spend billions a year building out their data centers. In the decades ahead, that will switch to Chinese giants like Alibaba, Huawei, ByteDance, and others.
In the have-not camp, academics and computer scientists warn, will be university labs, which have traditionally been a wellspring of innovations that eventually power new products and services. What they don’t tell you is how China will slowly begin to dominate the United States in the AI-arms race. This means the ethics embedded in AI in the 21st century will be in part dictated by the Chinese Government with data-ethics accordingly.
Even today in 2019, scientists are worried about a barrier to exploring the technological future, when that requires staggering amounts of computing. This means that these billion-dollar behemoths like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook will have such an absurd advantage over everyone else. Google could acquire NVIDIA in the future, huge AI winners will likely be mega corporations that take us to Mars and beyond like Amazon could.
The end-game of capitalism for the human species might depend on AI-giants taking us to further heights as a species, because that’s after all that American materialism can only do, even in its most augmented state. But there are signs that the Chinese surveillance architecture will eventually be superior in nearly all areas of AI, already ahead in mobile innovation and facial recognition.
Think about it, thing about what we are becoming as a technological society. The modern data centers of the big tech companies are sprawling and secretive. The buildings are the size of a football field, or larger, housing rack upon rack with hundreds of thousands of computers. Think about the scale that China will pursue all aspects of AI to get an economic, political and economic edge as its rise to super-power status.
These are the engine rooms of cloud computing, these data centers will accelerate what humans can become, but also how autocracy and AI will suppression the rights of individuals, vs. the momentum of collective institutions like China’s government or the evolution fo super corporations. The entire future of the human race might depend on these trends.
The Coming Data Slavery Singularity
A recent report from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence observed that the volume of calculations needed to be a leader in A.I. tasks like language understanding, game playing and common-sense reasoning has soared an estimated 300,000 times in the last six years. Thus, AI won’t become the “democratic” technology Silicon Valley promised, it will become a kind of data slavery.
The social credit system China is building is just a hint. Facebook’s behavior in terms of payment tools with a Libra Association and it’s own Supreme Court of content does not bode well for personal freedom in the future of the internet.
Deep learning has been the primary driver of A.I. breakthroughs in recent years. Google and eventually China will take it to new levels with computer processing that means only a few dozen companies will be able to compete in how AI will monetize both education and healthcare in the decades to come. These will be the most powerful companies of our times, for decades and maybe centuries to come, the new empires if you will.
Thus the future of artificial intelligence is not really what you think. The evolution of one artificial intelligence lab, OpenAI, shows the changing economics, as well as the promise of deep-learning A.I. technology. OpenAI quickly become something it was not intended to be. Founded in 2015, with backing from Elon Musk, OpenAI began as a nonprofit research lab. Google’s confusion in AI ethics shows also the future of AI ethics is perilous at best.
Nobody will be able to censor what the Chinese Government decides to do with artificial intelligence and how our data will be weaponized against us. We know it’s coming.
When Microsoft made a 1$ billion investment in OpenAI you could see how the future of AI itself would be monopolied by just a few players. BAT companies in China already invest in some of the most promising startups that are improving various aspects of AI. ByteDance has the opportunity to beat Facebook in most areas that matter in apps, and thus leverage AI for incredible profitability.
Academics are also raising concerns about the power consumed by advanced A.I. software. Training a large, deep-learning model can generate some serious carbon footprints. GAFMA, which stands for Google, Amazon, Facebook Microsoft and Apple won’t stop. They will continue to build super platforms to take over the world of technology in both the B2B and B2C spaces. They will be able to out-spend nearly everyone, thus they will dominate how the future of AI takes shape.
Big tech companies are pursuing greater efficiency in their data centers and their artificial intelligence software, which they say will make computing power more available to the outside developers and academics. They don’t just take your top talent, they outbid you in even being able to do the R&D that will in the end really matter. Google can afford DeepMind’s unprofitability indefinitely since they have such incredible advertising revenues.
A ByteDance IPO could fuel incredible innovation from likely along with Meituan, two of the most innovative companies in the world. China won’t just catch up to Silicon Valley titans in the next two decades, they will out-bid them with state-sponsored and Chinse Government support. Just wait and see.
To win in Artificial Intelligence, you will need to have nearly unlimited pockets just as companies like Apple, Google and Facebook have. But with such a concentration of power, comes the potential for abuse, which even in the 2009 to 2019 period, we’ve seen a lot of evidence for. We no longer see companies like Facebook or Google with rose-colored glasses.
All Rights Reserved for Michael K. Spencer