Over 50% of workers to become AI trainers, says Baidu cloud leader

He said every tech revolution in history was accompanied by concerns about jobs being made redundant by machines. But it turned out that each time humans have weathered the challenges and emerged on top.

The emergence of generative AI will gradually divide businesses into smart and non-smart ones and eliminate the “unfittest” in a new round of industrial shakeup, said a top executive of search engine giant Baidu at a recent forum.

Shen Dou, executive vice president and head of Baidu cloud business unit, spoke about ChatGPT and generative AI at the just-closed Boao Forum for Asia.

In this new era, “non-smart businesses will be gradually knocked out of the market while new giants will be born,” said Shen. “Every company needs to take action as quickly as possible and reconsider their strengths and how to expand them using AI.”

Shen responded to a handful of questions surrounding the tectonic shifts brought about by generative AI, which has underpinned the advent of ChatGPT.

Throughout human history, the first and second industrial revolutions, marked by the birth of steam engine and discovery of electricity, unleashed human physical power, while the third empowered man’s brains, said Shen.

The latest smart revolution to some extent replaces mental labor, freeing mankind from some intellectual work, Shen pointed out, adding that generative AI has immense room for application.

Thanks to its formidable speech recognition capabilities, generative AI can convert textual prompts and other inputs into commands and implement them within the LLM model.

“This means a tremendous boost to business production efficiency and user experience,” the tech leader argued.

He went on to argue that the future way of work will most likely be defined by a smart individual guiding a number of robots.

These robots may reinvent the whole production line at the behest of humans.

“From production to interaction in life, everything will change, and this change is already in motion,” said Shen. “Microsoft and Baidu are using generative AI to rebuild every product through AI.”

In the face of the threat posed by ChatGPT and generative AI, the tech veteran appeared unfazed.

He said every tech revolution in history was accompanied by concerns about jobs being made redundant by machines. But it turned out that each time humans have weathered the challenges and emerged on top.

“When cars came out, coach drivers believed that they would become unemployed,” said Shen. “But they would have kept their jobs by learning to drive the car.”

Shen is among a number of optimists who believe mankind can stave off mass unemployment as a result of explosive growth in AI, because generative AI will create a “new profession of epic proportions.”

According to him, in the future, more than 50% of working individuals will have to evolve into “AI trainers.”

He illustrated his point by citing the example of making Powerpoint slides, a task many find burdensome. In the future, generative AI can automate this process based on prompts and other inputs.

In that scenario, a majority of employees will not remain in frontline jobs, but be in a position to issue commands to AI to implement tasks in their stead.

“Therefore, the disappearance of some jobs will lead to the creation of others,” he stressed.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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