AI as Electricity

Today I noticed a new section on Purple Space for AI exploration and discussion. This part of the description had me noodling all day:

“Perhaps the biggest change in work since the invention of electricity.”

So if AI is electricity…

…then the foundation model companies are like the utility companies.

(AI had a few more ideas to fill out the obvious)

…then data is the fuel that powers these utilities. Without it, the AI cannot function, much like a power plant without coal or gas.

…then machine learning engineers are the electricians, building and maintaining the infrastructure that allows this power to be harnessed and used effectively.

…then the algorithms are the power grids, distributing the AI’s capabilities to where they’re needed most.

…then the applications of AI, from autonomous vehicles to voice assistants, are the various appliances and devices that use electricity in different ways to perform a wide range of tasks.

…then the ethical guidelines and regulations around AI are the safety standards and regulations in the electrical industry, ensuring that this powerful tool is used responsibly and safely.

(ok back to human mode)

AI is hot right now. There are a lot of people trying to resell electricity and make a buck. But if we believe the analogy, there are only going to be a few utilities, and they are going to be heavily regulated.

What seems more interesting to me is the idea of building a business that is powered by AI. The same way that the most valuable companies of the “second industrial revolution” were the ones that were powered by electricity, not the ones that sold electricity.

Or perhaps lets take a more personal level of the analogy…

…who do you want to be? Tesla? Edison? Westinghouse? Shockley? Moore?

Further reading: Empires of Light by Jill Jonnes