Previously: Escape Velocity From Bullshit Jobs They took our jobs! They took… several of our jobs? "ChatGPT does like 80 percent of my job," said one worker. Another is holding the line at four robot-performed jobs. "Five would be overkill," he said.
As for the "what come next" question, redistribution is obviously the right answer here. As it has been since long before Chat GPT. The right response to capitalism and a winner takes all economy that produces winners and losers is to set a reasonable floor on the life of the "losers." Not complete redistribution, we still want to reward winners, but the floor should be high enough so that everyone in the "loser" category can still lead a productive life with access to health care, public transport, food, etc.
To be clear, that doesn't mean that folks get all this for doing nothing. UBI with no strings is a bad idea for all sorts of reasons. But there will always be tons of useful work to do, whether it is keeping public spaces clean, caring for the elderly and young, building infrastructure, etc. To the extent that the private sector isn't able to offer these opportunities, the state can.
I think the equity prioritization needs further justification or refinement. I've worked at multiple tech startups in the Series A/B stage where I was between the 50th and 100th employee, and they all gave me ~10k options of equity when I started. If they become the next Google that will be worth a lot, but most likely it'll be worth between $0 and a few tens of thousands of dollars. That's not life changing if your salary is six figures. Isn't working two jobs and making $300-500k is much more valuable on average? Perhaps you should specify that when you say equity is the top priority you mean exclusively founder or very early employee level equity?
Maybe at some point software engineers become a hybrid between low level managers and testers. Managers because we spend a lot of time instructing and prompting GPT-N and testers because the output is not fully reliable and we need to create good tests. This would honestly make our jobs a lot more productive but a lot less fun :(
Good post! (I wanted to say something nice to counterbalance disagreeing with you on Twitter)
I've really been feeling the pressure to somehow get equity in future growth from AI but short of founding a startup (not sure it's a good match for my talents or that the talents I do have are up to it), do you think there are investments one can make?
Note that having multiple jobs is usually against your contract. And at least outside the US, where companies file your taxes for you, it's going to be very hard to hide the fact you're working for a different company without the taxman recieving two separate tax filings for you.
I do not expect that the productivity increase from AI will be uniform. Most 1x workers will remain 1x workers. A few will become 100x workers. They will be joined by some of the former 10x workers. If I were a manager, I would hire the 100x workers, pay them huge salaries, and deal with jealous 1x workers by giving them the choice between accepting inequality gracefully or getting fired
I’m a psychiatrist in the UK: genuinely curious if we’ll see any near term productivity gains from AI. Would obviously be ideal for summarising medical records, writing letters, automatic note taking, as a diagnostic aid (or psychiatrist replacement!)... with the caveat that we can’t send medical notes outside the UK and will have to rely on whatever NHS LLM we can run on 10,000 ZX Spectrums.
Nice. I wonder how many jobs are only doing one (or a few) thing(s) that can be done faster now. In most of my previous tech type jobs I can see AI helping with some fraction of my work (maybe 20%), but speeding that up would have just left me more time to do all the other tasks I had to do. So maybe I'd be 15% more productive, but that is not a 5x or even 2x improvement. (As an aside, thanks for the previous link to Eliezer on the Lunar Society podcast. I'm only through 1/2, but good stuff.)
Read Vice article; So (at the moment) Chat-GPT is mostly helping with wordsmithing and coding tasks? (It's a little strange to me that wordsmithing and coding are adjacent. I like coding, except for getting all the syntax right, and I hate writing.) It seems like in the long run chat-gpt is going to make those tasks cheaper and easier for everyone. (I can use chat-gpt to craft my first draft comments on substack, and that will be a win for everyone!) Which means getting double or triple hits on income for those first users is a transient, and should go away in time. I'm much more interested in the steady state... (or at least long term), response of the system.
So is there a better search function too? I'd love some search function better than google or duck duck go.
There is an arbitrage here in the short term where it is possible multiple jobs outstrips expected returns on equity.
Especially given these productivity tools should rapidly increase the amount of startups possible by increasing the number of people capable of doing so, the default advice in the 1-3 year employer adjustment term might be to take multiple jobs at 2-4x high floor salary than take equity in some low probability of success startup.
I am optimistic about this issue (as distinguished from x-risk, which does worry me somewhat) because there are few precedents for productivity-enhancing technological innovation with really adverse impacts.
The counterexample I sometimes hear cited is the impact of blackberries (and then smartphones) on professional services, but real wages in most of those white-collar professions are up substantially from pre-blackberry levels. As one example, Cravath paid a first-year associate $83k base in 1993 ($173k in 2023 dollars) versus $215k today.
Is quality of life worse? Being always reachable is stressful, but it also means you can go home rather than stay late in the office most nights. I'd say the impact of technology on white-collar QoL is ambiguous.
Another point to expand on your post is the large % of jobs likely to be affected by technology that measure work units in billable hours. Will be interesting to see the beneficiaries of those productivity gains.
I actually have a lot of questions regarding the 10x programmers not getting paid 10x issue.
1. Why aren't there businesses specializing at identifying and employing such workers?
2. If they're not compensated accordingly, why are they still 10x programmers instead of 1x programmers and 9x shitposters?
3. Aren't there extremely strong norms/laws around discussing salaries? It was in every one of my labor contracts, and I haven't observed it being broken even once.