AI is already today creating a reckoning for millions of visual artists as art AI start-ups enable anyone to generate hundreds of photos from a sentence or two of text. Art AI platforms place artists, many of whom already struggle to be compensated for their work, in an even more precarious position.
In the next decade AI is poised to revolutionize every aspect of our world, from digital personal assistants to biotechnology. As AI is capable of completing most jobs better than humans, the question looms: what people will do with their time besides for work?
This question is one that has fascinated me for several years now. My answer comes in the form of my start-up Adjacent. The basic premise of the Adjacent app is that people post their ideas for research, companies, art, or community activities, see the ideas of people around them, and build a community around ideas they care about. After there is no more work, a world where people are working on things they care about is a world I want to work towards. I believe Adjacent can be the digital infrastructure that will enable this new world.
But if Adjacent enables connections built around shared ideas, there is still the question of capitalism and how this system interacts with the platform. From the beginning, I think it is important that individuals pay to use it. We have seen with “free” software like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that the users are the products in a way that their attention is commodified and abused by advertisements. Outrage, click-bait, and misinformation run rampant on these platforms because engagement measured via clicks means advertisers will pay higher rates. To create truly user-centered designs in a capitalistic world, it is imperative that the core revenue comes directly from the users so that Money and mission are directly aligned.
Once money is on the platform, there is the question of how money will flow within the platform. Even in a utopia where money is unecessary for survival, I believe it can act as a motivation to create. Within the platform I want to create the option where people use ranked-choice voting to decide which ideas they want to fund. Even in the event of a global UBI, people will both still want to create and boast that they are helping creators. By channeling votes towards popular ideas, Adjacent directly democratizes funding to projects.
This is at least my current thinking on this subject. Feedback on this business model is wholeheartedly welcome. It is imperative that we start exploring the big questions of what kind of world comes after the AI revolution now and begin building the infrastructure for this world. So much time is spent fearing the world we will lose and not enough curiosity and imagination towards what world can come next. Adjacent is my vision of what this world can be. It is a world where people are surrounded by others that want them to succeed and where they have the resources to create great things, whether in art, sustainability, cooking, crafts, or businesses. The future can be bright if we build it this way.