This post is part of x.ai’s ‘Future of Jobs’ interviews series. We’re talking to leaders at startups to find out how emerging technologies like AI and automation are changing how they do their jobs. You can find all the posts in the series here.
Over the past decade, Yusuf Simonson has been a developer at Microsoft, Google, IBM, and elsewhere, and for the past five years he’s been the CTO at The Muse, shepherding the growth of their tech stack. It’s safe to say that technology is continually changing and redefining what Yusuf’s job entails, and that change is only accelerating as artificial intelligence and automation pick up steam.
The Muse is a job search and career development resource that’s now trusted by millions of people. The site strives to help people land in careers they’re truly passionate about, so it’s natural for a company leader like Yusuf to spend a lot of time thinking about how his job is changing. We sat down with him to learn about the ways AI is changing what it means to be a CTO.
What aspects of your job would you like to see automated? What aspects of your job are already being automated or will be, in your view, over the next few years?
A lot of my day-to-day involves planning logistics, or ensuring everyone is on the same page. This is what I’d love to see automated, because a sufficiently smart bot could probably do a better job than I. x.ai is already breaking into this space with meeting planning. Over the coming years, I’m excited to see other developments in this space, as well. For example, it’d be a game changer to have a bot that you could dial into meetings to take notes, rearrange them into something reliably coherent, and distribute results to affected parties.
What parts of your job are you uniquely qualified to do (vs. AI, machine learning, etc.)?
Leadership and management will always have a very human touch that I don’t anticipate AI disrupting anytime soon. I wouldn’t want a bot to decide the product and tech direction of our company. And I sure as hell wouldn’t want a bot to automate relationships with coworkers.
If artificially intelligent assistants could take over the tasks from the first question, what would your day look like? What would you spend that extra time doing?
I’d spend more time on the inherently human parts of my job: building relationships within the company, and sorting out the long-term strategy of our product and tech.
What’s the main thing you wish you had more time for?
I wish I had more time to get down in the weeds and write some code, for fun or profit (said every CTO ever).
If AI gave you time back, would you spend it doing the things you just mentioned above?
Doubtful. Conversely, though, I see some opportunities for AI to actually automate aspects of coding and consequently make software developers more productive. If you squint hard enough, you could say optimizing compilers, IDEs, code completion, debuggers, and the various other weapons in the developer’s arsenal are the first primitive forays into this. I’m excited to see future efforts that either allow developers to write code faster, or write code more declaratively.
If you accept the premise that AI will fundamentally change your job in some way over the next decade, what will your job look like then? What qualities will drive your success?
I’m skeptical that AI will fundamentally change my job in the next ten years. It’ll augment and support some of the more operational parts of leadership and management.