The World Needs More Intelligence Human intelligence is expensive, artificial intelligence is cheap. To solve big problems like climate change, it makes sense to double down on AI.

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The World Needs More Intelligence: Human intelligence is expensive, artificial intelligence is cheap. To solve big problems like climate change, it makes sense to double down on AI.

Dear friends,

Last year, a number of large businesses and individuals went to the media and governments and pushed the message that AI is scary, impossible to control, and might even lead to human extinction. Unfortunately they succeeded: Now many people think AI is scary. But when I speak with regulators, media, and private citizens, I like to bring the issue of whether AI is beneficial or harmful back to a very basic question: Are we better off with more, or less, intelligence in the world? 

Intelligence is the ability to apply skills and knowledge to make good decisions. Yes, intelligence can be used for nefarious purposes. But over many centuries, a major driver of civilization's progress has been people getting smarter and more educated. Until now, human intelligence has been the primary form of intelligence available. But with artificial intelligence, we have the opportunity to bring much more intelligence into the world. I discussed this opportunity in a recent interview (paywalled) with Financial Times reporter Ryan McMorrow.

Historically, intelligence has been very expensive to acquire. It costs a lot to feed, raise, and train a broadly knowledgeable and experienced human being! That's why it’s so expensive to hire intelligence, such as a highly skilled doctor to examine and advise you on a medical condition, or a patient tutor who can understand your child and gently coach them where they need help. But with artificial intelligence, we have the potential to make intelligence cheap for everyone, so you no longer have to worry about a huge bill for seeing a doctor or educating your child. 

For society's biggest problems, such as climate change, intelligence — including artificial intelligence — also has a significant role to play. While having more intelligence in the world isn't the only thing (there are also nuances such as how to share the wealth it creates, how it will affect jobs, and how to keep it from being used for evil purposes), I believe we are much better off as a society with more intelligence, be it human or artificial intelligence. 

In my recent talk at TED AI (you can watch the 12-minute presentation here), I touched on why I'm excited about AI and why I think many of the anxieties about it are misplaced. If you speak with someone who’s worried about AI, please forward the talk to them to see if it helps to reassure them. Or ask if they fundamentally believe we want more intelligence in the world. I find that answering this question can be a useful North Star for how we approach AI.

Keep learning!


P.S. Check out our new short course on “Building Applications with Vector Databases,” taught by Pinecone’s Tim Tully! Vector databases (DBs) are commonly associated with retrieval augmented generation (RAG) but actually have many uses in AI applications. In this course, you’ll learn about (i) a basic semantic search app that uses a vector DB to find similar documents, (ii) a RAG application querying datasets it was not trained on, (iii) recommender systems that combine semantic search and RAG, (iv) hybrid search, which lets you work with dense and sparse vectors simultaneously, (v) anomaly detection applied to network logs, and (vi) an image-similarity application with a fun example that determines which parent a child resembles more. Come learn how you can use vector DBs to build many different types of applications! Enroll here


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