Artificial intelligence, specifically generative A.I., has gotten lots of attention for the exciting and novel uses it presents to consumers—DALL-E’s creativity in imagemaking, ChatGPT’s passable essays. But Victor Basta, CEO and founder of DAI Magister, the capital advisory arm of international development company DAI, believes some of its most exciting uses will be in its B2B applications.
“Conceptually, it’s simplest to think of A.I. as Amazon Web Services [AWS] for human effort,” Basta told Fortune in an email.
A.I., like AWS and cloud computing before it, will fundamentally reshape business operations in ways that aren’t immediately apparent to the naked eye. AWS changed the way companies ran their IT departments by reducing the need for huge physical servers because data could be stored in the cloud. And crucially all at a fraction of the price.
“Companies, free from substantial IT investments, can concentrate on their unique strengths, swiftly adapt to market changes, and innovate new business models, a shift reflecting AWS’s profound impact on the modern business ecosystem,” Basta says.
Before AWS, even the largest companies in the world struggled for ready-made access to the level of computing power they now have, according to Basta. This “democratized” computing power allowed “startups to scale at a fraction of the price,” he says. Some of AWS’ early startup clients, like Stripe, Lyft, and Airbnb, became juggernauts in their own right, in part because of the readily available computing power they might not have been able to afford otherwise. (Fortune editor-at-large Geoff Colvin once termed AWS the “ultimate case study in corporate innovation”). A.I. would do the same but for workforces and certain tasks that now still require large amounts of manpower that early-stage companies simply don’t have big enough budgets to fund, according to Basta.
“CEOs will leverage A.I. to expand without raising as much capital as they have to today,” Basta says. “They will also constantly be searching for ways they can help employees do their jobs more quickly and more accurately…It is easy to imagine how, in a few years’ time, monthly financial accounts, transaction analysis, contract summaries, and employee tracking, to name just a few basic admin functions, will all effectively be automated, with a very small number of people needed to review the outputs.”
‘Employees will simply have to become better at their roles using A.I.’
Although Basta is careful to acknowledge that the best uses of A.I. won’t be to replace workers rather to supplement their existing work. He cites chess masters who regularly use A.I. programs to practice, even though they still compete against humans, as an example of how A.I. will help, but not replace people. In the business world this is already happening with software developers since A.I. can write decent code and check it for bugs, which means coders will spend more time on system design and high-level architecture, according to Basta.
“Will AI replace workers across the board?,” Basta says. “Of course not, but in the future workplace, employees will simply have to become better at their roles using A.I.”
A version of the idea Basta is expressing has been floated in recent months, particularly since the emergence of the likes of Alphabet’s Bard and OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The effects of this new technology are widely predicted to be far-reaching and substantial. An April blog post Goldman Sachs estimated A.I. could increase GDP by 7% over the next 10 years. Reflecting the changing nature of business, a World Economic Forum report estimated A.I. would create 69 million new jobs over the next five years while eliminating 83 million—a net decrease of 14 million.
Returning to his example of software coders, Basta seems to agree. “For certain there will be fewer developers in total, but the developers who succeed will have vastly more rewarding careers,” he says.