The truth. A machine will take your job.

AI is overused and applied incorrectly 90% of the time, but it’s still real. And it’s here now. We’ll start to see real AI solutions hit the market in the next two decades. Artificial intelligence isn’t new — it’s just that we’ve reached a point in time where consumers are willing to interface with machines, computing power is cheap, and software development tools have become simplified.

We are one of the few venture capital firms of our size that has a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) on staff. Watch Matt at our summit last year to set you straight. He’s a resource for our portfolio and performs due diligence of our investments, but he also has another job. That job is to automate everything we do within our firm. AI is causing a shift in company size metrics; we define our firm by assets under management and return on capital, not the number of people in our firm. This will become more and more common, and AI will inevitably cause a significant number of job losses. If you don’t want to be one of the people who falls victim to AI, it’s time to start preparing. With the right attitude and aptitude, you can come out ahead. I’d suggest starting here:

Take Inventory:

Examine your daily work effort and the work effort of your superiors. Do an honest, in-depth analysis of your daily activities. Contemplate how these tasks could be automated. Challenge yourself on this. Put these activities into three categories: 1) currently could be automated, 2) the right technology could automate, and 3) could never be automated.

Make a new friend:

I have a lot of friends in the entertainment business. No real reason, other than the concurrence of the dot-com bubble and the explosion of the Atlanta hip-hop scene in the 90s. We were all young and dumb together. Now we’re all dads (some granddads) and still enjoy being together. I’ve become their “tech-buddy.” Go find your own tech-buddy. I would suggest that they be active and even able to write code. Talk to them about your list. Have them give you insights into your task inventory, and ask them if they know of relevant products already out in the marketplace. Meet once a month.

Implement:

There may be a lot of limitations at your job around technology and tools due to IT department governance, but start implementing tools at your day job as much as you can. (These tools are likely not even AI, and that doesn’t matter.) Keep it quiet as much as possible. This is about learning and getting good at implementing tools.

Focus on critical thinking:

Don’t get an MBA. Management is not the future. It’s mostly tactical these days, with very limited critical thinking. Instead, your extra time should be devoted to understanding the business drivers in your company and studying the macro trends. Start to read and think like your CEO. Invest in understanding markets versus your functional role. Assume that your current functional role will be taken over by an AI engine. Read the Ks and Qs.

Become a polymath:

The importance of career specialization has been preached for years, but specialization won’t protect your job from AI. Computers were invented to do highly skilled tasks, and those tasks are evolving quickly. So shift your thinking from being a specialist to a generalist, both in your career and in your life. I’ve seen some pretty cool demonstrations from AI engines creating music and art. It is novel, but consumers still want the human story. Spend more time on creating. Start creating words, art, food, whatever. Know as much as you can about as many things as possible. It will serve you well.

This is just the beginning, but get to work. If you have any questions, email me at kpr@shadow.vc, and my AI will reply. Just kidding… or am I?