FutureLab and Level Ex: How to Create an AI Future with People in It

There’s a problem with AI that we don’t seem to be taking seriously enough. While there are two potential paths, Human Assistance and Human Replacement, only one of those paths is getting the most interest, and it isn’t the Assistance path. The reason for this is massive labor shortages in broad industries ranging from programmers to fast food workers to long-haul truck drivers. 

We are doing an excellent job at displacement. Most seem to assume that the post AI world will produce, as it has been for every prior Industrial Revolution, more jobs than it takes eventually. But, if those new jobs are instead also taken by AIs, which is the current trend, where will the displaced workers go? There is an almost certain future where most people are not only unemployed but unemployable because they can’t retrain fast enough. 

But what if we could change that outcome? I recently ran into two efforts from FutureLab and Level Ex that effectively turn what otherwise would be a really bad outcome into one that is amazing. 

Let’s talk about that this week. 

Building a Better AI Future with FutureLab and Level Ex 

As I see it, we have two problems. The first is that we are aggressively deploying AI tactically and not thinking about the strategic employee issues or long-term issues of what will happen if most of the population, or even all of it, are unemployed. The last I checked, AIs and robots don’t buy things or pay taxes. So what fuels the economy and government in an AI world? I’d almost bet that if Skynet were real, the reason it’d decide to kill all the humans would be from exactly this analysis. If AIs and robots are doing all the jobs, why would they need humans. In fact, wouldn’t you see humans as the same kind of problem we currently have with rats? Are we just setting up a future AI to make it so we can’t reproduce? I mean we have not only created the problem, we’ve recently showcased a really bad way to correct it.  

What we need is both a better plan for our future and a way to make humans more competitive with AIs so that we don’t become redundant, and so that the AI/Human parts together are more performant than they are separately. 

Creating the Plan: FutureLab

FutureLab has been working on a project called Manhattan 2, which is named (ironically) after the Manhattan project designed to kill people en masse. But instead of mass horrific death, this program is focused on creating companies that can use AI successfully and better blend it with humans to enhance them, not displace them. It’s the opposite of a project designed for mass death because it could save the human race, instead. And, interestingly enough, if there were a nuclear war, this program would be effective at helping the world use AIs more effectively to recover.

FutureLab operates as a unique kind of VC. It not only helps companies get funding but helps them best use AI to grow their businesses while enhancing the abilities of their employees to make them more effective rather than making them redundant. 

The company and project are highly focused on creating companies that will prioritize people along with technology so the deployment of one doesn’t damage the other. And for any new company looking to build out either AI solutions or use AI solutions to build out, FutureLab may be the ideal place to go for the help they need to not only make them more efficient, but more people friendly. 

But how about retraining, which will have a far higher requirement given how quickly this technology is changing? Right now, it takes years to retrain an employee, but you can spin up a new AI in minutes. Training a new LLM is down to months. Granted, it costs $100M right now, but Jensen Huang, NVIDIA’s CEO, predicts that cost will quickly drop to zero, so people have to be able to compete with AIs.

Level Ex

This is where Level Ex comes in. It is an amazing video game-based training tool that was created for the Mars mission. It was focused initially on doctors, but it could be focused on any career type. What it does is construct games that are fun to play but also teach you how to become an expert on a subject. For doctors, a new specialty skill that would typically take two years to learn could take only two hours. 

Now if you can retrain an employee in two hours and make them productive, that allows the employee to compete with AIs more effectively. And the tool is really fun. It’s based on the leading game engines (no point in recreating the wheel). The doctors that use it continue to use the tool for fun after they pick up the initial new skill. 

Imagine being able to play fun video games for hours and then be able to better protect your existing job and be more competitive when looking for one. Right now, if you play a video game for hours, unless you are a professional gamer, you’ve simply lost the hours, and the only skill you’ve picked up is the ability to kill aliens with a mouse (which I guess might be a marketable skill now in the military, or maybe not).  

Wrapping Up:

We are way too focused on buying, building, and deploying AIs even though around 85% of AI deployments are failing. I think part of the problem is we aren’t being smart about where and how we deploy AIs yet, a problem that FutureLab has created a solution for. 

In addition, we are rapidly approaching a time when people may become redundant in the labor pool which will end pretty badly for everyone. But Level Ex has created a tool that can much more effectively spin up AI quickly, help make people more competitive with AIs, and help keep the folks who are going to Mars alive (since they won’t be able to come back for medical help, that’s really important). 

There is a path to a better future. We just need more companies like FutureLab and Level Ex to find it and make it a future we can be proud of.