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Sam Altman’s Crystal Balls

Sam Altman’s Crystal Balls

Chris Campbell

Posted March 19, 2024

Chris Campbell

It’s true.

I don’t usually write your daily Altucher Confidential missive on an airplane.

But when I do, I write about things with a 50,000-foot view.

(And, oh yeah… boy are my arms tired.)

Cutting to the chase:

We're on the cusp of an AI upheaval that will make the Industrial Revolution look like the Revolt of the Sloths.

Without question, a most important figure in the rise of AI is Sam Altman, the mastermind behind OpenAI.

Altman doesn’t do interviews often. But this week, he sat down with Lex Friedman.

I listened to the whole thing on my ride to the airport, so you don’t have to.

In it, Altman pulled back the curtain on his predictions for the coming decade.

Let’s take a look.

Altman’s Crystal Balls

Not all of these predictions are going to shatter your psyche with their profundity.

Some are kinda platitudinous and predictable (#3, #7). Others are interesting to ponder (#1, #4, #6)…

But the LAST one -- (#8) -- has the most actionable profit potential.

(If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know EXACTLY why.)

Prediction #1: By 2030 (or even sooner), we'll have AI systems so advanced it will boggle the mind.

It won’t be the Kurzweilian “Singularity” where we merge our minds with AI and become part of the digital blob.

BUT

It will be a great assistant. And that’s more than enough.

(Think: IronMan’s JARVIS.)

On a shorter timeline, Altman predicts GPT-5 -- coming relatively soon -- will make GPT-4 look like a flip phone.

But here's the kicker:

Prediction #2: The road to Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is going to be a brutal power struggle.

Whoever reaches that summit first will wield godlike influence.

Altman isn't sugar-coating the stakes -- this is a game of thrones, and the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

Yet amidst the looming shadow of an AGI arms race, Altman sees glimmers of hope.

Prediction #3: Altman envisions a future where AI doesn't just transform our world, but elevates the human spirit to new heights.

When AI can supercharge scientific discovery, it will raise living and health standards beyond most have seen or can imagine.

Speaking of imagination…

Prediction #4: Imagine an AI that knows you better than your therapist, with a context window stretching back billions of tokens. (Translation: with a near-infallible long-term memory.)

Studies already reveal that we’re more comfortable opening up to an AI therapist than a human therapist. (Makes sense.)

With the right privacy protections and local AI tech (hardware), I think having your own AI is a great idea.

It's like having a digital soulmate, one that evolves with you over a lifetime.

Programmers, don't fret -- you'll still have a role, but you might be coding in plain English.

And if Altman's crystal ball is accurate…

Prediction #5: We'll be sharing our streets with humanoid robots, as AGI breathes life into machines.

BUT

Prediction #6: GPT-4 or 5, remarkable as they might be, likely won't be the catalyst for this seismic shift.

That honor will go to its successors, AI systems so profound, they'll rival the impact of Google Search.

Prediction #7: Altman predicts most of the dystopian and negative predictions of AI are purely “theatrical” -- he's convinced the good will far outweigh the bad.

He’s biased. But we agree.

Now, the pièce de résistance: compute.

Prediction #8: Altman says compute will be the currency of the future, the most precious resource on the planet.

As the world hungers for more and more computational power, those who control the compute will hold the keys to the kingdom.

So, how do you get in on this action?

Rhymes With Chlamydia

WELL… you could do what everyone else is doing.

For example, pile into the big hardware companies already on everyone’s radar.

(One happens to rhyme with chlamydia.)

OR…

You COULD invest in the cloud titans.

(Those rhyme with Foogle, Flamazon, and Flicrofoft.)

BUT…

If you do, you might regret sleeping on the plucky startups racing to build the wild things: AI accelerators, neuromorphic chips, and magnetronic flipper flappers.

These are the wild cards that could upset the silicon status quo.

According to Altman…

The future belongs to those who dare to dream in petaflops.

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