Peter Thiel says AI will be 'worse' for math nerds than for writers


Peter Thiel believes the expansion of artificial intelligence will be "worse" for math aficionados — not wordsmiths.

The billionaire shared his reasoning on the latest episode of "Conversations with Tyler."

Thiel, 56, launched himself into the tech industry when he cofounded PayPal in 1998, but he's since shifted to other ventures, including those involving artificial intelligence. Palantir, a company he co-founded in 2003, provides artificial intelligence models to world militaries like Ukraine and Israel.

During the interview, host Tyler Cowen noted that large language models like ChatGPT are growing and expected to become more advanced with time. When asked if writers should worry, Thiel responded that math lovers are the ones who should be on high alert.

"My intuition would be it's going to be quite the opposite, where it seems much worse for the math people than the word people," Thiel said. "What people have told me is that they think within three to five years, the AI models will be able to solve all the US Math Olympiad problems. That would shift things quite a bit."

Thiel then touched on how different societies prioritized math or writing throughout history, prompting him to discuss Silicon Valley.

"If I fast-forwarded to, let's say, Silicon Valley in the early 21st century, it's way too biased toward the math people," Thiel said.

Aerial view of Silicon Valley.
Aerial view of Silicon Valley. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Thiel said that math tends to be used as a benchmark for competency, but that might have shortcomings. Thiel used his lifelong love of chess as an example.

"In the late '80s, early '90s, I had a chess bias because I was a pretty good chess player. And so my chess bias was, you should just test everyone on chess ability, and that should be the gating factor," Thiel said. "Why even do math? Why not just chess? That got undermined by the computers in 1997."

He added: "Isn't that what's going to happen to math? And isn't that a long-overdue rebalancing of our society?"

Business Insider outlined 10 roles that artificial intelligence will most likely replace as the sector grows in March 2024. Among the roles were accountants, finance jobs, and areas of the tech industry.

Brookings Institution senior fellow Mark Muro told BI that technology like ChatPGT could produce code quicker than humans, which could mean needing fewer staffers.

"What took a team of software developers might only take some of them," Muro told BI.

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