Don Valentine, the legendary founder of Sequoia Capital, said his most significant advantage as a VC was knowing the future. That’s both a trivial and profound observation. Of course, knowing the future would be a superpower. Even mildly ambitious people could get rich and powerful if they consistently knew the future.

Right now, there is a considerable discussion about the impact of AI. Some throw around statements like, “We will have AI as capable as humans in just a few years!” Let’s combine Don’s realization of the value of knowing the future with thoughts about the possible consequences of super-human AI. These thoughts continue my post about untangling skill and luck when building a business. My recent post concluded that human intelligence can help improve the odds of creating a great company, but there is so much randomness involved that outlier outcomes are still, to a large degree, the result of luck.

Let’s imagine we created an artificial super-entrepreneur with an IQ of 1500, i.e., 10x, a human genius. How much could such a system increase the odds of building a successful company? Would it generate success after success after success? Here are some thoughts:

Based on all of this, my conclusion is that a (presumably immortal) super-entrepreneur would play the ultimate long game. It would realize it cannot reliably manifest hit after hit in the short term. Instead, it would establish one cash machine after another in relatively low-risk domains and aggregate and compound. It might place high-risk bets now and then: some would work, but most would not. Over 100 years, it would be rich. Over 200 years, it would probably control the world. Humans dislike this strategy because they want to get rich fast. Life is too short. I think a super-human AI would look at humans and say: “ Oh, you short-term thinking, short-lived little meat bags. You won’t even realize I’m winning until it’s too late.

I don’t think the problem with AI will be IQ; I think it will be immortality. It’s a good thing humans die. It makes room for the next generation. In the same way, inheritance tax breaks legacy wealth and makes room for new players. Or anti-trust law breaks up monopolies.

Always play the long game.