A.I. will turn us into 'superhuman workers,' founder of secret Google X lab says

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) tools will create "superhuman workers" who will be able to do more with new technology, Google X co-founder Sebastian Thrun said.
  • "AI is a tool and what AI can do really really well is getting rid of repetitive work," Thrun said.
  • Speaking to CNBC, he added that AI can be of help in a number of areas, including medicine.
Google X and Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun
Courtesy of Sebastian Thrun
Google X and Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools will create "superhuman workers" who will be able to accomplish more alongside the new technology, a co-founder of Google's secret Google X laboratory told CNBC on Monday.

Sebastian Thrun left the search engine giant in 2014, and is now the chairman of online education firm Udacity and chief executive of Kitty Hawk, a flying car company backed by Alphabet CEO Larry Page.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Thrun talked up the potential of AI to free people up to do more creative jobs.

"AI is a tool and what AI can do really, really well is getting rid of repetitive work," he said. "So, if you are a worker, say a medical doctor or a lawyer who spends day in and day out doing the same thing, then having AI look over your shoulder and learn those skills from you, will make you a superhuman, a more powerful person.

"Now, that means that some jobs will go away, very repetitive work, of course. But it will be replaced by created work, so we have to move from a repetitive working society into a creative society where we invent new things."

He gave examples of AI being used in the medical sphere or even as personal assistants to people.

While Thrun said that people will find new jobs as old ones are displaced by technology, other commentators are not so optimistic. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, for example, thinks robots will do everything better than humans, and has even suggested there is a "pretty good chance" that a universal basic income will need to be introduced.

Other technologists have been talking about how AI should be developed. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told CNBC last year that evolving technologies should develop at a steady enough pace to adequately replace the jobs they eliminate.