- Is Artificial Intelligence Coming For Your Job?
- Algorithms Don’t Feel. Data Doesn’t Suffer.
- Who’s Behind the Curtain?
- Tell Me How to Invest
- EPAM Systems (NYSE: EPAM)
- ChatGPT, “How Do I End This Article?”
“Once upon a time, there was an investor named Jack. He was very successful in his investments, earning a large amount of money over the years. However, he began to become greedy and started taking on more and more risky investments. He believed that he couldn't lose and that the market would always go in his favor.
“Despite warnings from his friends and advisors, Jack continued to make reckless investments. Eventually, the market took a turn for the worse, and many of his investments failed. All of his money, and even more that he had borrowed, was lost.
“In the end, Jack learned a valuable lesson about the dangers of greed and the importance of being cautious with investments. He realized that it was better to be safe than sorry and that it was important to never let greed cloud his judgment.”
Spoiler alert, Jack’s not a real guy, and I didn’t write that. All I did was ask my computer to “Tell me a story about a man that lost his life savings in the stock market.”
What followed was the handiwork of ChatGPT – the hot new AI tool that has been taking the world by storm and threatening teachers, coders, marketers, and writers like myself that the machines are one step closer to taking our jobs.
I personally think that those fears are wildly exaggerated.
Is Artificial Intelligence Coming For Your Job?
I would hope you’d agree that the above introduction is not a very compelling anecdote. It lacks the subtlety, humor, and, I dare say humanity, that comes with expressing oneself. I know nothing about Jack’s personality, his life's many roads that led to such a self-destructive outcome, or why he felt the need to be so greedy in the first place.
It’s an empty slate.
Was Jack in a terrible accident that led to serious medical bills, forcing him to come up with extra income? Did he borrow money from dangerous people and put his life in danger? Did Jack go through a nasty divorce? An addiction problem?
Each of those would be a story. Stories work when colored with real, human details. Without them, the whole thing makes for a completely toothless and boring parable about greed. ChatGPT didn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know.
Sure, ChatGPT and other AI programs may be able to write computer code (they speak the same native language, after all), or answer basic questions in a more detailed form than, say, a Google search (more on Google later).
A new report from Wharton Business School has shown that ChatGPT – even in its infancy – could achieve an MBA. Research also shows that they could pass challenging tests like the United States Medical Licensing Exam and the Bar exam.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that none of us would trust ChatGPT to handle your prostate exam or defend you against murder charges. You’ll need a flesh-and-blood person for a long, long time. The same goes for teachers, nurses, therapists, and any skilled job that requires years of education and eye-to-eye experience.
But let’s take it a step further and talk about artists – painters, songwriters, and especially graphic designers – that are probably mired in a sinking feeling right now.
Algorithms Don’t Feel. Data Doesn’t Suffer.
One of my favorite musicians – Nick Cave – has just written about this very topic. He has what I believe to be one of the most insightful takes on the matter. When asked whether ChatGPT could produce a song that would be “artistic,” Cave wrote:
“Songs arise out of suffering, by which I mean they are predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation and, well, as far as I know, algorithms don’t feel. Data doesn’t suffer.
“ChatGPT has no inner being, it has been nowhere, it has endured nothing, it has not had the audacity to reach beyond its limitations, and hence it doesn’t have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations from which to transcend.
“ChatGPT’s melancholy role is that it is destined to imitate and can never have an authentic human experience, no matter how devalued and inconsequential the human experience may in time become.”
“But what of what the future may bring? We’re only seeing the very beginning of this technology. What is ChatGPT 8.0 going to look like?
“I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI – that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster. It can never be rolled back, or slowed down, as it moves us toward a utopian future, maybe, or our total destruction. Who can possibly say which?”
Who can possibly say? Well, perhaps the companies that are crafting Pandora’s Box could shine some light on where the tech is heading – and just how fast?
Who’s Behind the Curtain?
The term “artificial intelligence” was first coined in 1956 at Dartmouth College. Ever since, corporations, governments, and militaries have been trying to exploit the concept to further their own goals.
The first I can recall is IBM’s Deep Blue, a supercomputer that pulled off a feat that surprised the world. Deep Blue beat Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov in a game of chess.
Since then, IBM (NASDAQ: IBM) and numerous other tech companies have been developing different forms of AI.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is currently the major player in the AI race. Their OpenAI division was behind ChatGPT. They just announced a multibillion-dollar pledge of investment in the technology over the next few years. Some report that Microsoft will pump upwards of $10 billion to accelerate proprietary breakthroughs in AI.
OpenAI started in 2015 with backing from Silicon Valley superstars Elon Musk and Peter Thiel. In 2019 they partnered with Microsoft. OpenAI was also responsible for 2021’s AI breakthrough, Dall-E 2, which can turn text into compelling images – or artwork, as some would call it. Now the two companies look to be connected for many years to come.
OpenAI projects $200 million in revenue, which would jump to $1 billion in 2024. Earlier this month, they were seeking to sell existing shares in an offer that would value the company at $29 billion. That would make it one of the most valuable U.S. startups in history.
Microsoft is reportedly planning to incorporate the tech behind ChatGPT into their Bing search engine. It could launch in some form by the end of March.
That has totally scared the pants off of Google, who rely on their search data and advertising for their lifeblood.
Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) seems to have the most to lose if Microsoft leapfrogs them in the AI race. It could become the first major disruption in Google’s market dominance of the algorithmic search and advertising space.
They see it as enough of a threat that they ordered a “code red” and brought back co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin from a three-year hiatus to catch up.
LaMDA, or Language Model for Dialogue Applications, Google’s chatbot, made headlines last summer when an engineer called it “sentient.” It wasn’t, but the fact that someone working on the project would be so bold as to make that claim demonstrated how far the technology has come.
Google plans to unveil more than 20 new products and demo a version of Google Search with AI chatbot features this year.
Tell Me How to Invest
So, that leads me to the investing part of this whole exercise. Here’s what turned up when I asked ChatGPT, “What AI stock should I buy today?”
“I'm sorry, but as a language model, I don't have the ability to predict stock market performance or provide personalized financial advice. It's also important to remember that past performance is not indicative of future performance and that investing in the stock market carries risks.”
It's a perfectly reasonable answer (and I was happily surprised that it didn’t say Microsoft). The computer hasn’t lived through bull and bear markets, tech stock booms and busts, and the psychological thrills and horrors of navigating the stock market.
That’s where humans come in.
So today, using my natural, hard-earned, and honed human intelligence, I’d like to introduce you to an AI company that doesn’t have the name recognition of the other tech giants.
EPAM Systems (NYSE: EPAM)
EPAM is a global IT consulting company and is one of the world’s foremost global digital transformation services providers. They lead the industry in digital and physical product development and digital platform engineering services.
The company also develops physical products, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality. EPAM is also heavily invested in emerging technologies like “Mixed Reality” – where they use their diverse technical expertise to create new virtual worlds.
Their corporate slogan is: “Engineering the Future.”
The key to EPAM’s success is a global network of engineers and developers – they employ over 61,000 employees across six continents and 50 countries. And apparently, those employees are quite happy with their jobs, as EPAM just won Glassdoor’s Employees' Choice Award Winner for 2023’s Best Places to Work.
The company partners with over 160 technology companies, including Adobe, Google, and Salesforce.
The company is more of a picks-and-shovels play on AI since their company would assist in developing, testing, and implementing these new technologies.
As far as the stock goes, you may be looking to buy low right now. 2022 was rough for the company due to the war in Ukraine. The stock dropped 50% in the two weeks following the invasion since EPAM, a majority of its software designers and engineers, are based in Russia and Ukraine.
Here’s how the stock has played out since then:
After a total drop of almost 65% in early March it has clawed back to about 29% off the start of the conflict.
Much of that health is due to how well they managed during the time. In Q3, EPAM grew revenue by 24% year-over-year to $1.227 billion. EPS came in at $2.63, an increase of 34.9%.
For the fourth quarter, EPAM expects revenues from $1.220 billion to $1.230 billion and EPS between $2.02 to $2.10. That's up from $1.65 the quarter prior and up from $1.95 year-over-year. They will hold a conference call on Thursday, February 16, 2023, to discuss its fourth quarter 2022 financial results.
You can sign up for that call here.
Here’s a list of the return upgrade from analysts, according to MarketBeat:
- JPMorgan Chase & Co. lifted their target price on shares of EPAM Systems from $365.00 to $405.00
- Susquehanna set a price target of $475.00 and rated the stock “positive”
- Morgan Stanley decreased their price objective on EPAM Systems from $480.00 to $435.00
The stock currently trades at $342, which leaves plenty of upside going into the year.
I believe this will not just be a short-term return as these AI systems expand. EPAM is in a great position to leverage its engineering and development knowledge to a global audience.
ChatGPT, “How Do I End This Article?”
It’s only fitting that I close this article with input from my new buddy, ChatGPT.
Chat GPT, are you going to take my job?
“It is possible that the use of language models like myself may automate certain tasks that are currently done by humans. However, it is also possible that the use of language models may lead to the creation of new jobs and improve overall efficiency in certain industries. It ultimately depends on how language models are integrated into different fields and workplaces.”
At least it didn’t pull any punches. I tend to agree with it. It’s a disruptive service, but as with many others, it will take adaptation to the current environment on a whole lot of levels. While I’m worried about my job as an investment writer right now, who knows what the future will bring?
I do know that in the meantime, as an investor, I want to have exposure to these exciting (and slightly terrifying) technologies.
The Profit Sector
Follow me on Twitter @mengeled.
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