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While much of the conversation around AI and jobs is focused on widespread job losses in sectors like trucking, venture capitalist and Sun Microsystems cofounder Vinod Khosla thinks that there’s a high-paying job on the chopping block: oncology.

“I can’t imagine why a human oncologist would add value, given the amount of data in oncology,” he said during a panel conversation hosted by MIT in San Francisco today. “They can’t possibly comprehend all of the things that are possible.”

His comments were part of a broader point that education will not be enough to stem the economic upheaval and job loss that comes about as part of the growth of artificial intelligence. He doesn’t believe that human radiologists will exist in five years as a result, for example.

Khosla is in line with a group of other technologists who expect to see massive change as a result of increased automation. In his view, the future will likely require a re-evaluation of capitalism’s effectiveness and goals relative to economic abundance and inequality.


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Furthermore, he said there’s another big loser in the rush to develop AI expertise: climate science. While he considered climate change to be a bigger problem than nuclear proliferation, Khosla said that he doesn’t see as much interest in solving problems in that field as he did before.

“If I go to MIT and give a talk on AI, I can fill any hall instantly,” he said. “If I want to talk about energy, I can’t fill the halls. The talent gusher is not going into global warming solutions or research, it’s going into AI.”

As a result of that redirection of interest, Khosla said that progress on AI will be “explosive,” but that progress will come at the expense of other key problems. He conceded that progress in AI may help develop solutions to issues around climate change, however.

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