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What Does AI Mean For the C-Suite?

By Seth Kaufman

Christian Desrosiers

You can ask the red-hot AI site ChatGPT how to incorporate AI into your company. Or you can listen to a conversation with Christian Desrosiers.

Desrosiers, a former Fullbright recipient and NGO leader-turned-founder of the tech company Friendpass, shared his thoughts at a recent Vanguard dialogue and declared that an inflection point for the long-discussed technology is here.

What changed? “A big bottleneck has been what you call ‘compute’ in the world of AI, which is the amount of computing resources necessary to train a model to be effective. And historically, that's been very expensive. There have been innovations in software efficiency and hardware efficiency to bring [AI] costs down,” Desrosiers said, noting, “The sophistication of the algorithms has massively increased.”

As for what will change, Desrosiers, an English major who first embraced tech running a solar power startup in Somalia, predicts workforce reductions and increased profitability.

“Historically, the line about AI was people were worried it was going to eliminate all these low-skill, blue-collar jobs, that has turned out to be totally the opposite. I think it's a lot of white-collar jobs that are going to be wiped out or transformed.

“The biggest impact initially is going to be tons of cost saving opportunities for companies that spend on creative work, and execution oriented, data work. There's even massive opportunities to improve bottom line profitability. If you're a business that produces products, and you're usually outsourcing this work to very expensive design or advertising firms or consultants, you can basically probably chop off all or at least most of that expense, because now you just need one person with a good design sensibility. Now you don't need this whole host of executors, let's just call them people who have a particular technical skill around design, and take instructions and go execute. You're gonna be able to rip out a ton of costs.”

To hear more of the Desrosiers dialogue with journalist Ken Stone, listen to a podcast of the event, read a transcript or watch a video.

These thoughts are taken from a dialogue conducted on Dec 2, 2022. Participants may have changed companies and/or titles since then.


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