South by Southwest

Mark Cuban: The world’s first trillionaire will be an artificial intelligence entrepreneur

Bill Gates is the richest man in the world right now, with more than $85 billion to his name, and,according to one estimate, if he makes it to his mid-80's, he will likely be the world's first trillionaire. But self-made billionaire Mark Cuban predicts that the world's first trillionaires will actually be entrepreneurs working with artificial intelligence.

"I am telling you, the world's first trillionaires are going to come from somebody who masters AI and all its derivatives and applies it in ways we never thought of," says the star investor of ABC's "Shark Tank," speaking to a packed house in Austin at the SXSW Conference and Festivals Sunday night.

Ever faster computer processors and exponentially larger data sets are creating opportunity to apply artificial intelligence to new industries like insurance, says Cuban.

Mark Cuban, billionaire and star investor of the reality show "Shark Tank", gestures as he speaks at the 2017 South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Sunday, March 12, 2017.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Cuban, billionaire and star investor of the reality show "Shark Tank", gestures as he speaks at the 2017 South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Sunday, March 12, 2017.

We will "see more technological advances over the next ten years than we have over the last thirty. It's just going to blow everything away," says Cuban, who himself started out as the child of a blue-collar family from Pittsburgh. He and Todd Wagner launched the internet start-up Broadcast.com and sold it to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999.

"The world's first trillionaires are going to come from somebody who masters AI." -Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

Google recently started using AI and has added $9 billion to its revenues as a result, Cuban has been told by sources within the Internet search giant.

"Whatever you are studying right now if you are not getting up to speed on deep learning, neural networks, etc., you lose," says Cuban. "We are going through the process where software will automate software, automation will automate automation."

As the pace accelerates, Cuban says the most desirable jobs and skill sets in the workforce will change. "I would not want to be a CPA right now. I would not want to be an accountant right now," says Cuban. "I would rather be a philosophy major."

As computers and robots increasingly replace technical skills, critical thinking will become yet more valuable. "Knowing how to critically think and assess them from a global perspective I think is going to be more valuable than what we see as exciting careers today which might be programming or CPA or those types of things," Cuban says.

"I would not want to be an accountant right now.  I would rather be a philosophy major." -Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

Meanwhile, low-skilled workers are already losing their jobs to robots and automation. The Trump administration has said it will put people back to work by opening factories again, but Cuban doubts that that's possible, given the realities of automation. He called on the audience of innovators at SXSW to think about ways to create good jobs for unemployed Americans who have been put out of work by robots and AI.

"'What kind of opportunity can I create that gives these people hope for jobs and the ability to live a valuable life?' That's what people in this room can help think of, because our current administration is not going to solve that problem by thinking they are bringing back factories."