Vinod Khosla (above) of Khosla Ventures says machine learning technology will change the world more than people imagine.

"I think the impact of machine learning on society will be larger than the impact of mobile on society," Khosla said Tuesday, during a fireside chat with Vator CEO Bambi Francisco at the Post-Seed venture capital conference in San Francisco.

That impact will be widespread, said Khosla. "Almost any area I look at, machine learning will have a large impact."

That machine learning--the ability for computers to learn to recognize things or complete tasks without specific programming allowing them to do so--is a  transformative technology is generally accepted. But Khosla said he thinks the technology will have ramifications far beyond our expectations as it develops.

On the one hand, the technology reflects a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors. On the other hand, he said, "essentially machine learning will  replace most jobs."

Some jobs won't disappear, but they will be transformed. By way of example, Khosla estimated that 80 percent of what doctors do can be automated with technology--but noted that there's still the emotional component of the doctor-patient relationship that plays a significant role in the medical profession.

The big problem, he said, will be the impact of machine learning and automation technology on income inequality. "I personally believe we will have to do something about income inequality," said Khosla. "What that is--whether that's redistribution (of income), or something else--is a more complicated question."

The investor shared one specific prediction for how machine learning will impact the world in the next 10 to 15 years: Driverless car technology will wipe out public transportation. This is especially likely if driverless Ubers or something similar hit the streets, said Khosla.

Considering Uber pool rides already cost only around $6 each, rides in autonomous Uber will cost less than tickets for public buses, he reasoned. It's "very likely," Khosla said, that "we might see the death of all public transportation or most public transportation. That's not something anyone is talking about."

Published on: Dec 2, 2015