Sales would be the only human-powered job in an AI-dominated software world
‘Why Software is Eating the world?’ is one of the most famous articles about the future of technology.
Written by Marc Andreessen in 2011, the article spoke about how every company – no matter what they do, will rely on software to streamline their operations and make themselves more efficient.
What Marc Andreessen told became true. The last decade has seen the rise of several technology giants and companies today can’t imagine a day without software. A Forbes article calls this period ‘The Acceleration Wave (2009-2019)’.
We wouldn’t be this comfortable working from home if we do not have the tools that were developed in the last decade. Thanks to software, the world is still running without suffering too much of an economic impact.
But, the software industry is facing a new problem. The rise of AI.
AI does everything
AI today does everything – writing blog posts and making it to the front page of hacker news, suggest product copies, drive cars, optimize package delivery routes, monitor stock market transactions, provide customer support, and a zillion other things.
Every time we say ‘wow’ looking at an AI system at work, we should also ask ourselves “What if it takes all of our jobs?”
If you’re telling me “Don’t overthink!”, let me give you a scenario.
Imagine you’re a developer. You used to use a text-editor like Notepad++ to develop web pages. Then there were frameworks to make your job easier. A couple of years later, a new software product comes into the market that promises to further reduce the time taken to create a web page by auto-completing code for you. You’re excited. So are the other developers. Now, twenty different companies come into the market and offer similar tools that help you autocomplete code with the help of AI. The next big company in the space would then come into the market with a message “Automate your development process with a virtual developer”. It pitches a product that develops and deploys code without human intervention and all you need to do it upload the UX prototype into the system. Some other company would come forward and say “We have designed a supercomputer that can perform the job of ten developers – an ideal solution for every startup”. Even if they price it at $1 million USD, companies would be happy to spend their VC money on it.
And, within a flash of a second, all the dev jobs would be endangered.
If you think the day is far, check out GPT-3 and Azure-powered tools that code UI components based on text-descriptions. It’s just a matter of time until someone figures out how to do it on a large scale.
And, a majority of non-technical functions in software teams were already replaced by some form of AI-powered technology. A major portion of customer support functions is handled by bots. Algorithms are powerful enough to identify keyword trends, market sentiment and suggest relevant headlines for blogs and landing pages (thanks to GPT-3). AI-algorithms can translate language in real-time, analyze data faster than before and can even work as your front-office assistant, and make calls on your behalf (remember the Google Duplex demo?).
So, we’re kind of in a ‘Hyper-acceleration wave’ towards an AI-powered future.
What will happen to the software economy?
The economic growth in most developing countries is due to their contribution towards the software economy.
Software has become the most prominent trade in the past two decades, and the economy has grown so much because of software professionals. It made middle class families into upper-middle class families and lower middle class families into middle class families. Many (including me) got their lucky break by finding their place in the software landscape.
But, in an AI-dominated software world, what will happen to a majority of these people. I am not saying all of us will lose our jobs. But, new companies will come up with AI-driven solutions to replace a portion of their workforce to optimize cost and other factors involved in managing a workforce. A company that would ideally hire ten people would only have five people as many of these operations would be overseen or done by an AI system.
If a bulk of the software is developed by small teams and AI, the majority of us would be nothing but consumers.
In a world driven by AI-generated software, anyone apart from those who own a business would be forced to take up sub-standard jobs. But, in my opinion, these AI-driven companies would pay anything to those who excel at one thing – sales.
Sales = Goldmine
Despite an AI creating a complete SaaS application, the end result is always selling it to an organization. And the person who would be making that purchase decision will always be a human. So, the future will have a high demand for salespeople, because, at the end of the day, a person has to be convinced about the usefulness of a product in order to bring revenue.
And, if you look back, sales is the only function that hasn’t changed with time. The adoption of every new technology is the work of millions of talented sales people who convinced us that we badly need this thing. They bring change. And, they’d be trusted even more in the future.
In the near future, we’d spending a huge chunk of our day with smart AI-systems. we’d pushed to a situation where we’d have to learn to co-exist with AI.
I don’t have thoughts on how we can co-exist with AI systems and what impact it will have on our lives. But, when I think about it, I am certain that that day is going to arrive sooner than we anticipated.
P.S. : If you’re trying to pick up a new skill, learn about sales. It might come handy when AI takes over😄