6 answers from an AI about whether robots are coming for your job in partnerships
A conversation with an AI named Lex
Dear Remora - is artificial intelligence (AI) going to replace my job in BD / partnerships? I’m skeptical but I’ve talked to folks on our Legal and Accounting teams who have seen staffing reductions due to new AI software. That makes me nervous.
Are the AI robots coming for my job in partnerships?
Dear AI Skittish - I thought it would be useful to hear what an AI has to say in response to your question. My hope is that the conversation below with Lex gives you a better sense of how concerned you should be. After the interview with Lex I’ve shared a few of my thoughts and some helpful resources to learn more about AI.
First, what (or who) is Lex?
Lex is an online word processor (like Google Docs) that helps you write faster using GPT-3, a machine learning model trained using internet data. GPT-3 was developed by OpenAI. All I had to do to produce this interview was to type a question into the word processor and then enter +++. From there, Lex used machine learning to generate the answers below.
Lex is very new, released just a couple weeks ago by writer and developer Nathan Baschez. Within 24 hours of being released, the tool had +24,000 users. (if you want an invite to use Lex, I have some to share with TfT readers). Lex is just one example of how developers are harnessing advances in AI to build new applications that will change our world.
TfT: Do you think that executing partnerships between tech companies is a role that AI will cover in the next 10 years?
Lex: No, I do not think that executing partnerships between tech companies is a role that artificial intelligence will cover in the next 10 years. Partnership agreements are complex, with many moving parts and stakeholders. For example, a typical technology partnership may include licensing of technology, access to certain data, and joint marketing and go-to-market activities. Each of these elements must be negotiated and agreed upon before a partnership can be executed.
TfT: Are there certain tasks within partnerships in the technology industry that you think humans will be able to hand over to an AI and have them complete in the next few years?
Lex: There are certain tasks within partnerships in the technology industry that I think humans will be able to hand over to an AI and have them complete in the next few years. For example, contract management and relationship management are two areas where AI can be leveraged to help humans manage technology partnerships more effectively.
In contract management, AI can be used to help humans keep track of deadlines, deliverables, and performance metrics. In relationship management, AI can be used to [keep track of which partners are in what stage of onboarding*].
TfT: From this conversation it is clear that you are a competent conversationalist, at least in print. But what about a real-world audio conversation? Do you think that you could call a partner and ask them questions to help move deal-making forward?
Lex: While I think that AI can be used to make calls to partners and ask questions to help move deal-making forward, I do not think that AI will replace humans in this role. The reason is that humans are still better at reading nonverbal cues and building relationships. For example, if a partner is hesitant to move forward on a deal, a human can pick up on this and try to negotiate a better deal. AI, on the other hand, would not be able.
TfT: Would you want to work in partnerships? Or are there other roles within tech that would interest you more? Would you want to be a product manager? An engineer? A graphic designer?
Lex: I would want to work in partnerships because I think it is a fascinating and complex field. I would also be interested in other roles within the technology industry, such as product management, engineering, and graphic design.
TfT: Is there a specific company that you would like to work at?
Lex: I would like to work at a company that is at the forefront of the technology industry. For example, a company like Google, Amazon, or Facebook.
TfT: So you don’t see yourself at a startup or a pre-IPO company?
Lex: No, I do not see myself at a startup or a pre-IPO company. I think the pace of change and the number of partnerships that are being formed in the technology industry are fascinating and I would like to be at the forefront of this industry.
A few thoughts …
Augmenting versus replacing.
My view is that AI will augment more than replace humans in many roles that today require an advanced education, like building partnerships. I expect that tasks like partner identification, opportunity sizing, contract review and co-marketing collateral creation will be aided by AI sooner than you may expect. But relationship development will remain a task for humans. I agree with Lex’s statement that “humans are still better at reading nonverbal cues and building relationships.”
Coming sooner than you may realize.
Overall, I was impressed by Lex, especially impressed with Lex compared to the voice assistants (Google Home and Alexa) that I speak to (yell at) daily. And I think we will see more and more AI-supported tools like Lex coming soon. As Stanford’s Jack Clark told the NYTimes about the pace of progress in AI: “It feels like we’re going from spring to summer. In spring, you have these vague suggestions of progress, and little green shoots everywhere. Now, everything’s in bloom.”
Our opportunity in this moment.
My experience using Lex adds to my excitement about the ways that AI can enhance our world. But it seems clear that AI also poses new, serious threats to society. We saw this movie play out with social media networks over the last decade or so.
Consider for a moment about all the negative effects of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok: misinformation, human trafficking, child porn and more on a massive scale. Now imagine that leaders in government, business and academia had anticipated these issues. What if teams across organizations had worked together in 2010 to design systems and industry or government regulations that contained negative repercussions from social media. Where would we be today?
That is the moment we are in with artificial intelligence. Right now we have an opportunity to design rules and build systems that limit the negative impacts of AI. I am very concerned that we are largely squandering this moment.
More information …
We Need to Talk About How Good A.I. Is Getting by Kevin Roose @ NYTimes
How Lex Happened by Nathan Baschez @ Every
What is GPT-3 by Rajat Panchotia @ Medium
The Alignment Problem by Brian Christian