The high priests of AI and programming
There are currently about 5,000 LLM (large language model) experts on the planet. The most potent open models, such as Llama 2, require millions of dollars to be trained, with its training cost estimated at about $20 million. Only a handful of big corporations possess the resources to build GPT-4-like or more powerful models.
According to GitHub, there are 100 million developers worldwide, in a population of 8.1 billion people. This means only 1.2% of humanity are developers, and it’s uncertain whether all of them can actually code. A future dominated by the "high priests" of AI and programming, who have the power to shape our world, is a concerning prospect.
Yet, most of the 8 billion people on Earth will have access to the internet, using it to fulfill personal needs, achieve goals, stay informed, and participate in the global economy. However, the current apps and capabilities may not be sufficient to meet everyone’s needs. People will rely on the high priests of AI and programming to build the tools they require.
In a similar vein to Asimov’s “Foundation,” where the Church of Science, with its high priests and controlled knowledge, holds immense power, there is a risk that the 'high priests' of AI and programming could wield a disproportionate amount of influence in our world. Just as the Church of Science has the potential to use its control over technology as a means of maintaining power, so too could the gatekeepers of AI and programming. This concentration of knowledge and power could lead to a future where the digital divide is not just about access to technology, but also about understanding and controlling it.
But what if anyone could code, in the same way that anyone can learn to speak a language? What if everyone had the ability to create the tools they need? The Ink & Switch lab call this “End-user Programming” in the context of being able to change a tool itself. What about creating completely new tools?
I believe that AI is making this vision feasible. English is becoming the new programming language. While it will take years to fully realize this vision, I am confident in a future where anyone, as long as they can express their intent, will be able to build programs with the help of AI, just like the high priests of today.