From Knowledge Workers To Curators: The Transition To A New Economic Reality

The Knowledge Economy, rooted in human capital and intellectual property, is swiftly transforming into The Curating Economy. This shift demands exploration of AI’s impact on the workforce and the emergence of a new economic paradigm, influencing industries, markets, and the very nature of work.

The knowledge economy is characterized by the use of knowledge and innovation as the primary drivers of economic growth, wealth creation, and employment across all industries. Driven by advances in information and communication technologies (ICT), which play a significant role in these economies, knowledge is leveraged to generate value; innovation is constant, and services, as well as high-tech industries, dominate. After we automated agriculture, industries, and brought improvements to everything from global trading, shipping, logistics, and the time it takes to build literally anything – it’s now time to automate the knowledge that went into automating everything else.

Knowledge workers, who have traditionally played a vital role in innovation and problem-solving across sectors, will find their roles augmented by AI. These workers will transition from creators to curators of knowledge, ushering in productivity enhancements and competitive advantages for businesses that adeptly navigate this shift.

Transitioning from an industrial or traditional economy to a knowledge economy brings significant productivity improvements, primarily due to:

  • Technological Advancements: The adoption of new technologies improves efficiency and productivity, allowing businesses to produce more with less labor.
  • Innovation: Continuous innovation in processes, products, and services leads to higher value creation.
  • Human Capital: In a knowledge economy, the emphasis on education and skills development means that the workforce is more adaptable and capable of generating new ideas and solutions.

These factors contribute to faster economic growth and higher standards of living compared to traditional economies.

Who are the Curating Workers?

Yet, this transformation is not without its challenges. The displacement of jobs through the gradual replacement of menial knowledge tasks with AI solutions looms large, raising questions about the future of work and employability. With over 100 million knowledge workers in the US and more than 1 billion globally, the impact of this shift will be widespread, underscoring the urgency of preparing for the imminent changes.

This preparation is twofold, encompassing both the enterprise and the individual sides, as organizations and individuals alike must adapt to remain relevant in The Curating Economy. Initially, the most important tasks will be exclusive or kept with humans – in other words, people will still have to maintain accountability for the decisions made within a company. This will position individuals as curators of knowledge, not creators. We know from recent historical shifts (like Web 2.0 or the App Economy) that the urgency lies in comprehending and adapting to this transformative wave. Job displacements and AI investments necessitate swift preparation – both on the enterprise side and also on the personal side.

Emphasizing the need for personal investment in new skills, The Curating Economy expects us to rethink our approach to work, innovation, and creativity. Even if you participate in the knowledge economy as a consumer, recent studies about generative AI’s negative impact on internet pollution heighten the need to shift from knowledge creators to curators. As consumers within this economy, the ability to discern genuine, authentic, and relevant content becomes crucial.

How Will We Adapt to the Curating Economy?

The move from the established Knowledge Economy to the coming transformation sets the stage for economic change. Future employability is at stake for laggards and highlights how personal investment in new skills is paramount. Focus will fall equally on personal and corporate interests, each with its own set of consequences, emphasizing the need for recalibrated strategies.

What Skills Do Knowledge Workers Need to Maintain Relevancy in The Curating Economy?

In the short term, holistic skills will be very relevant. Decision-making, problem-solving, and communication are all tied to reasoning – the comprehension and ability to convey complex topics in simple language. Generalists will see their skills in demand, while specialists will be the first to see displacement. Devin is the world’s first AI synthetic worker – in tests (feel free to email the team and test it yourself) – Devin was able to take random requests from web forums, fulfill projects in the gig economy (on Upwork), and fully build mobile apps, websites, and solutions by itself. This is the first prototype; once this technology goes through the normal cycle of improvements from the code side (i.e., improvement in prompts), hardware side (i.e., new AI chips that are 10x better than the previous generation), and holistic improvements (i.e., giving Devin an inner monologue), the second generation can fulfill the role of a small development team.

GitHub just launched a new AI feature that can fix bugs. At this moment in time, quality control specialists should be worried, as everything that has passed through decades of standardization and specialization is primed for automation. If a process can be automated, it will be first outsourced, then incrementally automated until it is fully automated. We are at the last step.

Text AIs are nice, what about Visual AIs?

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we’re big fans of Midjourney and all the possibilities that come with it. Midjourney is an Image AI that is perhaps the most advanced of all the tools in this area. Images generated by Midjourney have already been spotted in the wild, used by huge companies in their ad campaigns. On the internet, you can find a shocking amount of content being generated with Midjourney. Studies show that we simply can’t distinguish between deepfakes and actual photographs.

With Midjourney, you can now create full ad campaigns with the same model, since Midjourney now remembers faces. Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, if you have the choice between spending $20 for a monthly Midjourney subscription and $10 for a Canva subscription, why would you spend thousands, or even tens of thousands, on hiring a dedicated marketing team for campaigns – including models, photographers, location rentals, equipment rentals, editors, and so on? Businesses that use AI today have a massive competitive advantage over those that don’t. This is what VCs are telling us today. VCs work with startups that have limited capital and a limited ability to compete with their biggest competitors. But the gap is very small if you have enough AI literacy to get the best value from these tools.

OpenAI is competing with Midjourney in the space of Image AIs (the AIs that convert text to image), but with their recent demos of Sora, their Video AI (AI that converts text to video), they have shown the world that creativity is no longer solely a human skill. Sora is able to generate 1-minute long videos that are complex, layered, and for the most part follow the laws of physics. It is even able to generate new content that has never been created before (i.e., Sora was asked to generate imaginary animals).

Sora generated video

This new technology has caused a lot of concern, mainly in the audio-visual sector. If this is the first generation of their Video AI, then once we get to version 4 or 5, Sora will be able to generate full movies that are indistinguishable from footage made by humans. The entire industry will change, with some hopeful that this means art itself will gain a new dimension. It will no longer be linear, with a creator and a viewer, where an executive in Hollywood decides what will be on TV this year. Rather, everyone will become a curator, either creating a TV show by yourself or directly altering the start or ending of an existing movie.

The Future of Personalized Media: A Glimpse into the Next Five Years

Let’s imagine, five years from now, with the rapid development in the AI field, we could be sitting in front of the TV, directly requesting shows or movies tailored to our current desires. Want to explore an alternative ending to Game of Thrones? Or how about watching Seinfeld, but with the cast from Friends? Maybe you’d even like to hear Sinatra sing an Ed Sheeran song. All of this could be possible—for a charge, of course. Not just a monthly subscription, but potentially a cost to our current economic paradigm that could be significant or subtle.

Of course, some will be more adept than others at creating this type of content, leading us to recognize a new skill many of us haven’t considered significant: AI conductors. This skill, while not easy to train, is directly linked to a host of other skills—vocabulary, storytelling, plot structure, emotional intelligence, and more.

If you’ve experimented with AI over the past year, you’ve likely noticed that those with a richer language achieve better results. AI pays close attention to the adjectives you use—if you describe everything as “awesome,” you may struggle to extract the full potential of AI. If you haven’t revisited your list of adjectives and adverbs lately, now might be the time. Good language skills are crucial because, after all, AI operates on top of Natural Language Processing. If you feed a dictionary to an AI, it will learn from it and, to some extent, expect you to understand the words as well.

Turning back to the audio-visual industry, it’s worth mentioning Pika Labs and Runaway, two other significant players in this space. Unlike Sora, these platforms already allow users to create videos, including generating sound effects.

When it comes to Music AIs or Sound AIs, the field is crowded and possibly less explored. Many of us know what we’d like to create with an Image AI (pets, family, fictional heroes we adore), but the same isn’t as true for Sound AIs. Unless you’re a musician or DJ, the imagination seems to falter in creating actual songs or sound effects.

This observation is perhaps true for the music industry as well, which follows the 80/20 rule to an extreme: the majority of the most-listened-to songs are produced by a handful of producers. This model has been embraced by the industry for some time.

In the past, concerts served to promote and boost sales of music records (vinyl, CDs). Today, with the advent of streaming disrupting revenue generation, artists earn the most from live performances, further widening the gap between top-selling artists and the rest. The silver lining is that smaller artists now have ample distribution channels to reach their audience and, if fortunate, can still generate significant revenue from sponsorship deals.

However, the stark reality is that big, stadium-filling artists are rare. Streaming has democratized access to niche artists. World-renowned stars like Taylor Swift can fill stadiums worldwide, but the industry often waits years to find an artist with enough appeal to achieve this. This means the industry must invest considerable time, money, and effort in identifying, nurturing, and promoting these artists for years, if not decades. But what if there’s an easier way?

What if current technology, specifically voice cloning, could allow us to enjoy new songs from artists long lost? Imagine a new album from Frank Sinatra or Michael Jackson. Character.AI has shown us that people love creating fictional variants of their personal heroes. Users spend 30 min on average on Character.ai, compared to 5 for all the other AIs on the market. From an industry perspective, could it be more cost-effective to recreate and utilize the rights of past celebrities rather than investing decades in building a new artist like Taylor Swift? Holographic technology has already graced many concerts, and voice cloning, a tried and tested technology, combined with generative AI, can now mimic any tone, style, reasoning, and thought. Here’s a revelation: I can achieve this today, on my own. The industry doesn’t require data centers, experts, or extensive time for this to unfold.

By 1 PM today, I could produce a whole new Nirvana album reflecting today’s angst, worries, and issues. I would prompt ChatGPT or Gemini 1.5 (with its 1 million token limit) to digest all lyrics from existing songs to generate 12 new tracks. Using a voice cloning AI for Kurt Cobain’s voice and any of the numerous AI song generators, I could begin crafting the music. I could even design some cool album art covers with Midjourney.

A study looking at the Hollywood industry discovered that 62,000 jobs might soon be replaced by AI. If I can generate the content I desire at this moment, what competitive advantage does the traditional industry hold?

The industry’s competitive edge lies in its experts. This remains a domain where human relevance is irreplaceable. Regardless of your field—marketing, finance, business—you can maintain your authoritative voice, ensuring client retention. This aspect also involves a generational component; early exposure to technology influences its utilization, suggesting that over time, reliance on familiar AI could supplant traditional expertise.

Example of a future Synthetic team dashboard

The real challenge in this new Curating Economy is AI literacy. People are already earning millions with AI through models that may not be sustainable long-term, such as the so-called ChatGPT wrappers. Yet, if not engaging in this AI literacy race against the other 1 billion knowledge workers means falling behind, it seems we’re in a race to the bottom—awaiting the creation of jobs promised by the AI revolution. One year in, and these jobs are still on the horizon.

My personal expectation is that these jobs, in the traditional sense, may not return. The promise of AI to simplify everything could instead fast-track financial independence. There’s an opportunity in the AI revolution for those proficient in AI literacy to excel, while laggards fall behind. The tide does lift all boats, but some sooner than others. If your ability to identify opportunities surpasses that of your peers, you emerge as a victor in the market.

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I am equally passionate about technology, nature, ecosystems, and exceptional cuisine.

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