Editor’s note: The St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs has brought together diplomats, military, media, scientists and experts for more than a decade to work together at better understanding and operating in the world. It will be held at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Student Center from Feb. 6-8. This column is by a participant. This year’s theme is “Rethinking.” Find out more here.
In today’s rapidly evolving world, the fusion of human intellect and artificial intelligence is a futuristic concept and a burgeoning reality. With large language models, we’re on the cusp of revolutionizing how knowledge is shared and monetized — think of it as the new-age equivalent of earning rental income, but from your brain.
Consider this: The global consulting industry, essentially a massive brain-rental business, was valued at more than $366 billion in 2023 by Ibis World. Now, imagine leveraging your unique expertise, augmented by the power of AI. The goal is not to replace human consultants; it’s about magnifying your reach and impact, offering personalized, scalable and accessible solutions to a broader audience.
At its heart, AI in this context is akin to a highly efficient, unbiased assistant. While humans are unparalleled in creating novel ideas, our capacity to process vast amounts of data without bias is limited. Here, AI can step in as a supercharged scribe, adept at navigating through seas of information, understanding context and enhancing our innate abilities.
Yes, artificial intelligence terms like Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG) and Parameter-Efficient Fine-Tuning (PEFT) can sound daunting. But here’s a more straightforward way to look at them:
Retrieval Augmented Generation works like having a research assistant with access to a global library that integrates these insights into your unique knowledge base. Parameter-Efficient Fine-Tuning, conversely, ensures that your AI communicates its knowledge in a way that’s tailored and relatable to your audience.
Imagine a small-business owner seeking bespoke advice, given your background, experiences and knowledge. Through your AI-augmented service, this business owner can get your expert insights when you’re not physically available based on the latest information, tailored specifically to their problem, at a fraction of the cost of traditional consulting.
Let’s break down the economics of this innovative model. Imagine you, as a single consultant, charge $200 per hour and can take on 40 work hours per week. You have a weekly earnings cap of $8,000. Now, introduce AI replicas of yourself. The financial dynamics shift significantly if each AI consultant can handle the same workload, charging a reduced rate of $50 per hour due to lower operational costs and increased efficiency.
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With 10 AI replicas working concurrently, the total potential weekly income becomes $20,000 (10 AI replicas x 40 hours each x $50). While the cost to individual clients is significantly reduced (a quarter of your consulting rate), your overall revenue stream more than doubles. This model scales your earning potential and democratizes access to your expertise, making it affordable and accessible to a broader audience.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. We must navigate the ethical and trustworthiness terrain carefully, ensuring data provenance and pedigree, authenticity of advice, and preventing misuse of such technology.
Renting your brain is not about creating a faceless, automated system. It’s about a symbiotic relationship where AI amplifies your professional value. You could sleep or focus on creative endeavors while your AI counterpart offers customized advice, generates reports and scales your expertise. This reallocation of your time allows you to focus on quickly acquiring new capabilities while maintaining a revenue stream.
Traditionally, high-quality consulting services have been a prerogative of those who can afford them. But what if your insights could reach a budding entrepreneur in a remote part of the world or a student making career choices? This democratization of knowledge is one of the most exciting aspects of AI-augmented consulting.
Furthermore, this approach offers a sustainable business model. Your AI-enhanced advice becomes a form of intellectual property, generating ongoing revenue without continuous hands-on effort. It’s a win-win: You amplify your impact while enjoying a residual income stream.
The potential is immense as we stand on the brink of this new era. Combining your expertise and AI’s processing power can unlock unprecedented personalized, scalable and more financially accessible services. It’s time to embrace this evolution, where AI doesn’t replace but enhances the human intellect, leading us to a future where knowledge knows no bounds.
Bill Bensing has done pioneering work in governance and compliance for highly regulated industries. His motto is “I Build Things That Build Things.”