Select Page

“I’m going to claim without any proof whatsoever that AI will double everyone’s productivity.”

— Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google

This is what former Google CEO Eric Schmidt had to say about the way artificial intelligence will transform the world, as he argued the technology has the potential to double the output generated by even the most highly skilled and highest paid workers. 

“The arrival of an intelligence that’s not human is a really big deal,” Schmidt told an audience at the FII Priority Summit in Miami, as he argued AI technologies will soon be able to carry out an array of complex tasks that will eventually enable highly skilled jobs to be automated. 

Speaking to former U.S. Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, Schmidt said that while AI already has the capabilities to replace certain jobs, including those done by paralegals and computer programmers, the technology will soon be able to replace academics and executives too. 

“Let’s think about lawyers. The paralegal brief, LLMs can do that today. Programmers: there are sometimes programming teams where they have a very smart set of programmers and then people who sort of fill in and do testing – the latter part will be automated,” he explained.  

“All of the things that are second order effects, those jobs are affected very dramatically and very quickly in my opinion,” he said. 

Schmidt, however, said even top paying jobs could soon be automated, as he argued AI will even compete with the world’s greatest writers in producing masterpieces of literature through large-scale data analysis.  

“The question that academics and executives always want to know is when does it come for me, and the answer is last, but not never,” Schmidt, who acted as CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, said. 

“I go to a lot of events where people say: ‘well, a computer will never be able to write something with the human experience and evocativeness that humans can write.’ That’s just false, these systems can actually read what a millions humans felt and produce something as good as the great humans can,” he said.  

“Remember that these systems are looking at human experiences and they’re generalizing in a way that we as individuals – as smart as you are – cannot do,” Schmidt said. 

The tech exec, however, said he believes the worst jobs will likely be automated first. “Historically… automation tends to replace the most dangerous and poorest jobs,” Schmidt said.

Looking ahead, Schmidt suggested AI will one day allow workers to automate tasks they would have previously completed themselves, using simple text prompts.

“The way it will work is it’ll be basically text to action. You’ll have an idea, and you’ll say I want a ‘this’ and the system will show you the recipe or organize the events… The systems will be smart enough to be able to communicate, send emails, make phone calls and so forth.”

Schmidt’s comments follow U.S. Federal Reserve board member Lisa Cook’s suggestions on Thursday that any productivity gains made through adoption of AI technologies may take longer to reap than many are expecting.

“Looking ahead, I see artificial intelligence (AI) as a potentially significant source of productivity growth, but that will take time,” Cook said. “History shows that the journey from invention of general-purpose technologies to innovation to productivity can be long and uneven.”

“Although adoption of generative AI is happening at a rapid clip, the full benefit of a technology requires complementary investments as well as changes in corporate structure, management practices, and worker training,” the Federal Reserve board member said. 

Share it on social networks