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The former CEO of Reddit says laid-off tech workers should get in on AI because ‘you don’t need an enormous amount of technical skill’ to make an AI app

Yishan Wong CEO of TerraformationYishan Wong, CEO of Terraformation.


  • Yishan Wong, the former CEO of Reddit, has advice for tech workers: Get into AI now. 
  • “You don’t need an enormous amount of technical skill,” Wong told Fortune.
  • He added that AI “feels like a hype train,” but there’s a lot of value to be mined from it.

Yishan Wong, the former CEO of Reddit, has advice for tech employees who are nervous about keeping their jobs amid rampant layoffs.

Speaking to Fortune in an article published on Tuesday, Wong — who started his tech career during the mass layoffs of the Silicon Valley dot-com crash in 2000 — told tech workers to start working on AI quickly. 

“It feels like a hype train, but actually there’s an enormous amount of value overhang,” Wong told Fortune. 

“You don’t need an enormous amount of technical skill,” Wong added. “Nontechnical people can build pretty valuable and novel applications on AI. There’s this enormous amount of leverage that an individual can have.”

Wong — who worked at Paypal and Facebook before getting the top job at Reddit in 2012 —  also offered some advice to tech workers looking to get their big break. He said he “randomly moved around” from tech job to tech job, and just worked “really hard” wherever he ended up.

“If you’re really good at whatever you’re doing right now it creates a foundation and gives you a lot of option power for whatever comes next,” Wong said.

“Make sure you’re really good at the time, wherever you are,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what the music is going to be. If you’re a good dancer, you can adapt.”

Wong quit Reddit in 2014, after two and a half years at the company. He’s now the CEO of Terraformation, a company that’s trying to reforest Earth.

Wong’s advice comes amid fears across industries that AI may soon replace many aspects of skilled, white-collar work. Silicon Valley is culling its workforce amid breakthrough advances in AI, now that models like GPT-4 know how to write, make art, and code. In March, Goldman Sachs estimated that generative AI models like GPT-4 could impact 300 million jobs.

However, the AI industry itself does have promising inroads for tech workers. Companies are recruiting in the field, and market leaders from Mark Zuckerberg to Elon Musk are exploring and investing in the technology.

Wong did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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