By Kahini Shah and James Joaquin
A copilot, according to Merriam-Webster, is a “qualified pilot who assists or relieves the pilot but is not in command.”
This word is a great metaphor for the new wave of AI software applications designed to give humans superpowers in the workplace. At Obvious, we see AI as ushering in a major transformation to how we find and do our best work. We believe it has the potential to close gaps and give individuals and small businesses skills and capabilities that were previously only accessible to large companies.
Will AI also eliminate some jobs currently performed by humans? Absolutely. In every technological revolution this has happened—from the Gutenberg press, to the steam engine, to the Internet. Given that only 40% of the jobs we do today existed in 1940, we believe that we’ll have similar new types of job creation over the next 80 years as more AI copilots fly in.
In the first generation of AI copilots, we are already seeing productivity gains in the workplace. From doctors using AI to write clinical notes to business analysts using AI to create complex data queries out of natural language, AI copilots bring an array of benefits. They can:
- Answer key questions that improve employee productivity.
- Author prose, code, images, and videos.
- Analyze data and extract insights.
- Automate repetitive tasks and systems.
- Act on behalf of employees in an agent-like capacity.
Generative AI is making it even easier for knowledge workers to get information quickly by improving search. ChatGPT can answer a nagging question or fix a software bug. Hebbia can quickly scan and provide answers from important documents.
AI can help create content and code, enhancing workers’ ideas and output. GitHub Copilot boasts that a million software developers generate 46% of their code with its help. Designers and editors are using Runway to turn out videos and images.
AI can find relationships and patterns within data. Our portfolio company GenHealth feeds patient data into an LLM, offering insurers and providers a glimpse of what their patients’ future might be. Snyk can analyze code bases to identify security vulnerabilities.
Almost all jobs have tedious elements that workers dream of automating. Abridge aids medical providers in completing clinical notes, leaving more time for patient care. Otter.ai can generate notes during Zoom meetings and provide summaries.
Like a true copilot who can fly the plane while you take your hands off the controls, AI also can also act on behalf of workers. Multi-On can book you a flight. Orby can process invoices for finance and procurement teams.
At Obvious, our People Power investing is centered on helping individuals and small businesses find and do their best work. We think AI can play a transformative role (pun intended), while keeping innovations aligned with society’s needs and rules. We would love to meet with companies that are addressing the following:
- Recruiting and training: Startups focused on recruiting, training, and development play a pivotal role in helping the workforce adapt to the changes of AI. We’ve invested in companies like Incredible Health and Torch that address some of these challenges, matching employees with employers and addressing skill gaps.
- Ethical AI and Governance: We’ve presented an ethics checklist around LLMs, arguing that ethical AI must be explainable, transparent, human-centered, inclusive, civil, and sustainable. We have written about some pressing challenges — hallucination, misinformation, and copyright. We’re excited about technologies addressing these problems in innovative ways.
If you share our vision of leveraging AI as a copilot in a responsible way to empower workers, please drop us a line: email@example.com.
Special shout out to our summer intern, Halle Abraham, for contributing market map research.