Everyone has their favourite philosophical theory, right? Maybe you’re into Altruism and think there’s nothing more meaningful than helping others; good for you. Or maybe Existentialism is more your bag, and your fear of death is the only thing getting you up in the morning.
Me, I lean more towards Determinism. It’s comforting, y’know, the idea that everything happening to and around me is the inevitable result of everything that has come before. It makes decision-making easier, and when a pigeon takes a dump on your shoulder it’s water off a duck’s back because there was never any avoiding it.
I guess it’s a nice substitute for faith, too. One where you don’t have to get out of bed every Sunday morning for roll call. It’s not as defeatist as Nihilism where everyone just looks around, shrugging at one another, and it’s not as damaging as Hedonism even though everyone knows that’s the best one.
It was this part of me, the part that glows with a passion for yielding to the inevitable, that was drawn towards Mark Cuban’s recent statements about Artificial Intelligence.
The Trillionaire Robot Scientist
During a talk at SXSW festival in Texas, billionaire Mark Cuban spoke about every billionaire’s specialist subject: money.
“I am telling you, the world’s first trillionaires are going to come from somebody who masters AI and all its derivatives and applies it in ways we never thought of.”
The quote itself isn’t the best. It will never be found atop a toilet cistern, published alongside Lincoln and Gandhi in The World’s Greatest Quotes 2025. I mean, look at that sentence structure…read it out of context and he’s suggesting that somebody who masters AI and all its derivatives is going to give birth to the world’s first trillionaires.
Or maybe he’s actually speaking very candidly about everyone’s number one fear. Maybe he’s suggesting that somebody is going to master AI to such an extent that they will create a fully sentient being. A being who navigates its way through society with such aplomb that it ends up wooing its way to the top of Alphabet after callously manipulating Larry Page into resigning his post as CEO.
…Is it in this role that our AI mastermind becomes the world’s first trillionaire?
Despite clearly needing a bit more time with his English teacher, Mr Cuban went on to condemn the majority of the population’s education:
“Whatever you are studying right now if you are not getting up to speed on deep learning, neural networks, etc., you lose. We are going through the process here…software will automate software, automation will automate automation.”
That’s right, kids! If you continue to insist on expressing your unique, personal thoughts, composed in a way that is pleasant to the ear or makes others feel emotions when they read them, you’re on fast track to Loserville. The real winners are over here, working out how to get the machines to automate their thoughts before dispensing them on ticker-tape, directly from the urethra.
Mark Cuban The Philosopher?
Not satisfied with bashing our artists and educators, the world’s wealthiest careers advisor went on to take a swing at accountants; those boring sods.
“I would not want to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) right now. I would not want to be an accountant right now. I would rather be a Philosophy major.”
Mark Cuban doesn’t want to be an accountant; fair enough. Presumably, because he considers them the walking dead; condemned men.
And with that final blow ricocheting off the accountant’s chin and onto that of the philosopher’s, Mark has kindly bought me back en pointe:
The Determinist inside me likes what Cuban is saying because, if you consider everything that has come before and all that is happening now, he’s completely spot on. It is indeed inevitable that the world’s first trillionaires will work in AI.
The Inevitability of Automation
Not only is it every sci-fi fan’s wet nightmare, but it also carries the potential to change society more drastically than anything since the World Wide Web. The rise of AI is inevitable because everything that has come before, all of those technological advances and innovations, were actually incognito research tools, assessing our mindsets and expectations; the feedback proves beyond a doubt that there is a strong and immediate demand for Artificial Intelligence.
Society has lapped up next-day-delivery, lost their minds for instant communication and gone doolally for chatbots. All of that, and then some, is undeniable proof that we want to be able to do things as quickly and with as little effort as is humanly, or in this case robotly, possible.
The Bots and the Jobless
That’s where AI shines; its glowing core of gold. With the arrival of big data came the need to process and curate it all. For a human, or rather many humans, to do that would take years and cost billions. Workers don’t want to be bored senseless and businesses don’t want to pay them for the privilege.
Combine this with the fact that AI eliminates ‘human error’ and, all kidding aside, Cuban is right; the accountants, the marketers, the analysts, and the call centre operatives, they’ll all be jobless; slung into the streets to brood with the philosophers and the milkmen.
When Mark Cuban says ‘you lose’, he’s talking in the context of money, and profit. If that’s what you’re here for then yes, fail to get involved with AI and you probably will miss out on the biggest paydays of tomorrow. You probably will lose.
The Hipster Accountant
But if money isn’t your drive, and you’re the type of accountant who just loves balancing the books the old fashioned way, like grandad did, then all may not be lost. Much like vinyl records, coffee, and bread, a segment of society will soon bore of the machines and look for someone more artisanal, independent and uniquely human to look after their money.
All you need to do is set up shop in the East End, no desks, no computers, just benches of reclaimed wood and some complimentary cucumber water should be enough for you to become the the Hipster Accountant of Whitechapel.