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Vinod Khosla: A huge opportunity is removing the humans from IT

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One of the biggest opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators in the enterprise is cutting out the human IT staff and going full automation, potentially with technologies like deep learning, said venture capitalist Vinod Khosla at Gigaom’s Structure conference on Wednesday. “It’s ridiculous to have humans manage the level of complexity that they do. People are a big cost in IT. Let’s take that out,” said Khosla.

Picture taking the data that these IT systems are putting out and use that data to build adaptive systems that have the capability to utilize human judgement and decision making. If these types of tools could be built and sold to enterprise customers, it could dramatically reduce the cost of needing to use human IT staff to make these complex decisions. It would be like a next-generation Splunk, said Khosla.

These types of nimble applications are enabled by the rise of everything as a service, or software defined “X”, as Khosla put it. It’s the idea that businesses and startups don’t know what will happen with their internet companies down the road and don’t want to plan their infrastructure years in advance.

Customers don’t have a clue where their businesses are going to go, so let’s build infrastructure so they can respond. Plan not to plan, and be really agile.

Khosla says he’s optimistic that there will be a lot more interest and innovation around enterprise IT, following the success of startups like Arista. Big internet players like Facebook, Google and Amazon with AWS, are doing really interesting things with IT infrastructure and that’s opening up huge opportunities for everyone else, said Khosla.

However, it’s the older IT infrastructure companies that haven’t continued to innovate. “I haven’t seen innovation from IBM or HP or Dell in 20 or 30 years,” said Khosla, adding that Facebook probably doesn’t even look at Cisco’s product lines for its architecture.

Photo by Jakub Mosur

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9 Responses to “Vinod Khosla: A huge opportunity is removing the humans from IT”

  1. I guess eventually VC’s are also be obsolete….nobody’s job is safe. The world’s future definitely looks like a Israel(the 1%) vs the Palestine(the 99%) situation times 200.

  2. Mo Vij

    What’s interesting however is that if humans can be pulled out of IT then they can be pulled out of Medical (at least the non-surgeons) or financial world – after all -all of these handle complex information.. It will be a matter of next VC making a similar call next..

  3. Scott Jackisch

    We should keep in mind that it’s not the VC’s job to structure our society so that humans have good jobs. It’s his job to see which way the wind is blowing and place his bets. The VC didn’t create these trends. They might like to believe that they contribute to the trends, but that connection is tenuous. His money doesn’t contribute to better technology any more than the next VC’s.

    If we want humans to have jobs, we probably need something like, (shudder) a political solution.

  4. malinpaul

    here’s hoping I make it to the inevitable era when humans number among the cherished pets of the googlebot overlords, oh and that humanity avoids upheaval caused by mass unemployment and the runaway concentration of wealth.

    that said – fighting to keep humans employed when the work is better automated is wrong.

    Maybe the IT guy is “faced with the prospect of living under a bridge alongside American auto workers, travel agents, guys who play dynamite sax solos in rock and roll songs and the CEO of Friendster”

  5. michael ross

    So let me see, we’ve taken the people out of farming, out of manufacturing, out of retail, and now we’re poised to take them out of IT too. We’ve diminished what were once decent paying jobs in teaching, accounting, engineering, software, medical, law, and other areas and diminished them to the point where no one can make a living by that alone or may even go into bankruptcy pursuing those careers. So I’d love for some of these VC guys to tell us what happens when they run everyone out of a job and there’s noone left to syphone money off of by selling cheap, shoddy, fad products. Are we all just going to embrace some offshoot of communism and share a job with 5 other people and get our ration cards? I can’t even say “Are we going to work at McDonald’s” because self-service is going to start reducing those job prospects too. Are we just going to be left wiping each other’s butts? I hate when these guys wax poetically about putting people out of a job while not producing anything of real value to the world.

  6. Hari Raghupathy

    I believe the goal of IT is to innovate and create and bring in more avenues of services and products and thus profitability. Not by cutting IT staff.

  7. Michael Carlson

    That’s nice for Mr. VC-Guy. Those of us who are to be cut out of the IT loop by his high-and-mighty pronouncements might have a somewhat different take.