"I believe [AI] is going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind."

Bad News

Artificial intelligence, whether it’s an application of machine learning or some new technology altogether, is poised to shatter the global economy.

Kai-Fu Lee, a venture capitalist who used to develop artificial intelligence for both Microsoft and Google, told CBS' 60 Minutes that AI will displace 40 percent of the world's workers within 15 years.

"I believe [AI] is going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind," Lee told CBS. "More than electricity."

It's Different This Time

New technology always renders some forms of labor obsolete. But displaced workers have historically had, in theory, the opportunity to pursue jobs the new industries technology created.

But in his most recent book, "AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order," Lee argues that AI displacement will be fundamentally different.

In a November interview with Futurism, Lee explained that AI will allow entire new industries to be built from the ground up with automation in mind — not only will AI prove cheaper than human employees, but many of the new jobs it creates will be automated as well.

Time to Prepare

Lee told CBS that this wave of automation and worker displacement will happen much more quickly than others, such as the invention and distribution of the steam engine.

Part of that is because AI algorithms can be shared around the world among developers and business leaders with little need for new infrastructure. No railroads or highways or power grids need to be built.

What's left to be determined, Lee said, is whether the best moneymaking AI will come from America, which houses most of the top AI developers, or China, where smartphone apps like WeChat give businesses rich data on nearly all aspects of users' lives.

READ MORE: Venture capitalist: AI will displace 40 percent of world's jobs in as soon as 15 years [CBS News]

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