To Survive AI, We Must Become Creators

AI enables creators and punishes workers, so it's time to start making things

There’s a lot uncertainty in the knowledge worker job market right now, largely because of AI.

Like what do you do if you’re like this person on Hacker News, a brand new graduate out of college, while AI is ascending?

I have a simple model to think about things.

The biggest impact of AI, in terms of human jobs, is that it’s about to get a lot easier for creators to create, and a lot harder for workers to work.

The future of human jobs in 4 words: Creators rise, workers fall.

In other words, you want to think real hard about how to become a creator and not a worker. Meaning—you want to be the one coming up with the new things that solve problems, not the one writing the code, or filing the paperwork, or setting up the meeting.

Why will creator’s thrive?

The reason creators will thrive post-AI is that building new things has near-universal value. We have always rewarded people who dream up new things and bring them into the world, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon.

The issue is that creation is costly. It doesn’t just require creativity; it requires extraordinary access, and resources, and ultimately—luck.

What AI will do—and is doing already—is lower the barrier to entry. It will make it easier than ever to:

  • Start a business

  • Create a story

  • Publish a book

  • Create a movie

  • Build a product

  • Etc.

Think about how hard it is to make a movie. It requires millions of dollars to make a movie and get it in front of the masses right now. Hollywood is a gatekeeper in that respect. It’s basically the only way to get into a movie theater.

But AI is about to replace Hollywood, and home theaters, social media, and AR/VR headsets are replacing theaters. Think Sora 3 + Apple Vision Pro 3.

Most people don’t bother creating because they know there’s no chance of anybody seeing what they make.

It’s hard to put numbers on this, but let’s just say only a few million people on the planet were able to be a creator in the pre-AI world.

Imagine what the world looks like when that becomes hundreds of millions. Or billions. And the best content rises to the top because it’s better, not because it had access to the theaters.

Now that you have that in mind for Hollywood disruption, imagine it for:

  • Startups

  • Publishing books

  • Scientific innovation

  • Creating art

  • Building new tech

Basically all of human innovation was stuck at a 1/10 until now because only a few people were even allowed to play.

And AI is about to open things up and take it to a 10.

Ok, but what’s a creator vs. a worker?

Ok, so the next question is, “What’s the difference between a creator and a worker?” It’s both easy and had to answer that question.

On one hand it’s pretty simple:


Creators come up with new solutions to human problems.

Workers are the people who execute on building them.

And that distinction is different based on the field. In a corporate setting the distinction is something like:


Creators are the people who determine what to build, how to build it if it’s a new thing, and how to sell it in the current market.

Workers are the people who make that happen.

Blurring execution and creation

But that distinction isn’t always neat. Sometimes we have the “draw the rest of the owl” problem, where the idea itself is not the hard part.

Turns out the rest of the owl was the hard part

Some “ideas” leave all the work undone. At that point you either have execution that’s also creation, or pure fantasy. For a tangible business, an idea must be feasible.

What if we had 37% more efficient solar panels! Wow, that’s brilliant! I’m a creator!

Lots of so-called creators

So for the line between creation and execution, the real distinction is whether you’re doing something that’s never been done before. Creating something that doesn’t already exist.

If you’re an “executor”, or “worker”, but you’re so good at it that you’re doing things that have never been done before, you move into the “creator” category.

And vice versa as well. If you’re a creator, but the space has been saturated, or what you make is now easy to replicate, you’re now an executor.

Why workers/executors are in trouble

The next question follows easily.

If there’s going to be so much creation, then why wouldn’t we need lots more workers and executors as well?

It’s a good question with a simple answer: we absolutely will need far more execution to enable all that new creation, but there’s no way to train enough people to do that work, and even if we could it would be a highly inefficient workforce.

It will be AI doing most of that work. Here’s how to look at it:

  1. As the amount of creation goes up, the amount of execution needed will balloon massively.

  2. We already have issues filling execution jobs today. As an example, we have millions of jobs in cybersecurity that need filling but nobody to fill them because nobody’s training entry-level people to fill the pipeline.

  3. Humans are hard to train and retrain, they get sick, they sue, they have families and a life, and they leave if they have a better opportunity.

  4. Human competence is basically fixed. Our IQ’s aren’t going to natively jump much in the next 20 years.

Humans are expensive, sensitive, and need constant replacement.

AI won’t have those problems.

  • AI will scale with creation.

  • We can make as many as we need.

  • When you upgrade an AI it’s much easier to redeploy than retraining or replacing a human. Especially at scale.

  • They aren’t conscious, don’t get tired, don’t complain, don’t go to HR, and don’t quit.

  • They’re getting smarter at an insane rate.

Ok, so what do I tangibly do? Which fields are good and bad? What about college?

So, assuming I’ve convinced you that 1) execution is going to AI, and 2) creation is where you should be heading,

  • What next?

  • Which fields do I go into?

  • Which do I steer my kids into and away from?

  • Is college still needed?

All good questions. Here is my general advice, and please realize that I’m still thinking this through just like everyone else. And it’s largely impossible to predict the future of tech.

Tangible action

  1. Focus on creation. Focus on ideas. Focus on making new things. Focus on problems that exist in the world that need to be solved, and start thinking about what you can build to solve those problems. Tangibly. Realistically. Not pie in the sky. Creating new things to solve human problems is the immortal job skill.

  2. Think of tech skill—and specifically programming and AI skills—as reading and writing. Essential. Meaning, if you’re not good at them you’re probably not going to succeed at the highest levels. Even as a creator you need to be decently fluent in programming and AI because they are—for the time being—the language of creation.

  3. Get trained. College is still valuable as a filter of quality when nothing else is known about a person. Don’t neglect this fact until it becomes completely irrelevant, which for most of normal society will not happen this decade. When you study in college (or anywhere), think of two branches: 1) a hard skill that’s valuable in the market, and 2) training on how to think. As time goes on, and AI advances, the second matters far more.

  4. Don’t think so much about fields or companies. Think more about problems and problem spaces. Think about the problems that will go away vs. the problems that we’ll always have. Problems are the source of creation. Go where the problems are that 1) interest you, and 2) you’d be good at solving.

  5. Get out of the mindset of being a worker, and enter the mindset of being a creator/builder. Transition from someone building other people’s ideas to someone with your own ideas, and with the skills (storytelling, communication, AI management) to make them reality.

Summary and recommendations

  1. AI will simultaneously explode the opportunities for Creators while destroying jobs for Executors.

  2. You need to become a Creator / Builder.

  3. This requires you become extremely good at AI because it’s the new language of Execution.

  4. Figure out the problems you want to work on. Problems are a far more dependable and stable source of inspiration than industries or specific companies.

  5. Start training yourself—and your kids—as creators and builders instead of workers.


  • There’s actually a third group called Nurturers, which are going to be just as needed (or maybe more?) than Creators. But I didn’t want to distract from the main point in this piece, which was employment, and I’ve already covered the topic somewhat in this essay here.