AI Will Affect Math People More Than Verbal People: Peter Thiel

AI tools like ChatGPT and Gemini can currently write very sophisticated text, but one of the best investors around thinks that they’ll affect the job prospects of people with ‘math skills’ more.

“It seems much worse for the math people than for the word people,” Thiel said at an event when asked about how he saw the future of AI play out. “What people have told me is that within 3 to 5 years, AI models will be able to solve all the Math Olympiad problems. That would shift things quite a bit. Silicon Valley is way too biased towards the Math people. I would bet on that getting reversed,” he continued.

Thiel said that Math ability was currently used as a proxy for general smartness. “Even if you want to go to medical school, we weed people out through physics and calculus. And I’m not sure that’s really correlated with your, say, dexterity as a neurosurgeon. I don’t really want someone operating in my brain to be doing prime number of factorizations in their head while they’re operating in my brain,” he added.

Thiel seemed to imply that as AI models became good at math, it could reshape society into not giving as much primacy to people who’re good at math, such as scientists and engineers, and instead shift focus towards ‘word people’, or general managers and leaders. Thiel’s theory does make sense — while AI can conceivably become extremely good at math in the next few years, it’s unlikely it’ll acquire the abilities of leadership, team management, persuasion and negotiation, which are essentially word skills. And once math skills become free thanks to AI, it could really be the time for word people to shine.