What is valuable in a world where neural networks can combine and interpolate any information structured by humans?

Recent results in machine learning have demonstrated that if you feed enough text and images structured by humans to a vast neural network, the network can assemble combinations of concepts and sample information on the continuum from one concept to another. The machine output is frequently indistinguishable from what human-produced output looks like. If we feed the network enough examples of what ice cream looks like and enough examples of what dragons look like, the network can generate an ice cream dragon. This has become known as “Generative AI.” The underlying technology has been around for a long time, but it is finally good enough to be helpful.

So what are the consequences of this technology for humans? What will be valuable skills in a future permeated by Generative AI? To hypothesize about this, we have to start by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of this new technology:

Comparative Strengths of Machine Learning

Comparative Strengths of Humans

Before I conclude, I want to mention something I recently came across. There is a field of cognitive psychology called "Meta-Reasoning." Research in this domain is guided by questions like:

These questions give a clue to what yet-to-be-understood human abilities we still haven't transferred to computers. That means that while recent breakthroughs are extraordinary, we are far from done.

Conclusion: Dream weird things with friends

If you want an edge on computers, you must build many global, solid relationships and make deliberate but risky bets.

Throughout history, humans could gain status and influence by having a great memory or excellent arithmetic skills. Reading large quantities of information, and passing logical tests, is still the cornerstone of education. Those with the best memory and ability to pattern match get the highest grades, jobs, and salaries. At least in general. I think that is about to change.

Memory and pattern-matching are becoming commoditized. Generative AI is to pattern matching what calculators are to math. We will inevitably have conversational agents that instantly generate text and images drawing on all human knowledge. Whether this constitutes human intelligence or not, it will be extremely useful. Prompting a knowledge base will augment memory and move the competitive edge from processing power to "uncommon sense." Or put differently: Make sure to dream about weird things that should be real, and then convince your friends to help you make them real. So far, computers are bad at that.