In this Stretch Goals quick hit, we’re going to talk about whether artificial intelligence is going to be taking over the world. This is the Stretch Goals Podcast where, each week, we’ll share inside some lessons learned, based on our experiences as entrepreneurs.
Robert: In this Stretch Goals quick hit, we’re going to talk about whether artificial intelligence is going to be taking over the world. This is the Stretch Goals Podcast where, each week, we’ll share inside some lessons learned, based on our experiences as entrepreneurs. We’ll challenge you to create ambitious goals as you start and grow your business. I’m your host, Robert Dickerson.
Scott: I’m Scott Davis. There was an article this week.
Robert: Only one article?
Scott: Actually, if you look at the hashtags and such, AI’s been trending for a while now, exponentially. Microsoft came out with some type of AI engine that can write its own code so, from the very onset of that, you think, “Oh, it’s writing apps and software.” No, no, no. The article basically says that this thing is learning script kiddies. It’s going out on Google, finding code paths that work, and then it’s re-writing these methods and doing cheesy little things, so it’s not writing software and replacing software engineers.
Could it in the future? Absolutely, to an extent, because somebody, A, has to maintain that process and tell it how to learn and tell it what to do, and you have to be pretty intelligent to do that and have a good understanding of software, but also it doesn’t have a conceptual understanding of what it needs to do. Somebody still has to tell it that the software needs to do X, Y, and Z, but also it can’t lay out interfaces, right? It’s just doing this very basic rudimentary print, ‘hello world,’ kind of stuff. Is it cool? Yeah, but the whole thing is, and the reason I wanted to talk about this on the podcast today is that AI is trending.
There’s a lot of different things going on. There’s chatbots everywhere. Twitter is nothing but bots itself, to an extent. There’s just all these different things that are automated and everything, and people always freak out that artificial intelligence is going to replace their job. My gut reaction to that we’ll go into in a second. What do you think when you hear AI is replacing jobs?
Robert: No, it’s not. It’s going to create opportunities. Hopefully, it will improve our lives. That’s the way I look at AI is, how can we use artificial intelligence to help improve our lives so we’re not doing all these small, mundane tasks so they can help me with life and push some of the mundane stuff to the side and just do it for me so I don’t have to keep doing it? I think it’s going to make life easier, and I think it will improve people’s jobs. I mean, jobs will be different, but I feel like there’s going to be a level, and we talked about this in one of the previous episodes, there’s going to be a level of knowledge that people starting into jobs, starting careers, are going to have to have to interact with artificial intelligence.
There was an article that you might have seen by Mark Cuban that was talking about how liberal arts majors are going to take over the world once AI is in place. That cracked me up, but I feel like there will be opportunities for everyone when AI’s in place. Maybe it will provide additional ways that people can work and can get into these jobs that they may not have had because AI’s taking some of the low level stuff out of the way that they don’t have to worry about, and they can be more efficient.
Scott: I think when I hear AI’s taking over the world, first of all, that’s false because, throughout history, we’ve done nothing but improve things to make them more efficient so that we can save ourselves time as human beings. Let’s go back 200 years. You’re in the field, digging up your own corn and stuff, cranberries, whatever you grow. You’re doing it all yourself manually, right? That’s people power. The thing is that, over time, we introduced machinery that could do it better, and then we improved that machinery. Now we’ve got robots assembling cars. All along, we’ve not gotten rid of jobs.
We may have replaced them with something that can do it more efficient but, as a result of that, it opens up 50 other jobs because there’s a whole series of things that need to happen to keep robots building cars. Now you need mechanics to make sure the robots are good. You need software engineers to write the software for the robots. You need someone to train the robot program to move in specific positions to put bolts on the cars, so there’s all these different things. For every tractor that you added to your farm, you made yourself more efficient so that you could work on something else. That’s what AI is to me. It’s let’s get rid of all this low level stuff so that you can make yourself more efficient.
As a proof of concept, I wrote my own Twitter bot last week when I was bored. Basically, I’ve increased my Twitter following by 350 users in a week because …
Robert: Because more bots are following you.
Scott: That’s fine, but my point is, instead of me going out and figuring out who I should follow, I wrote a script so, if somebody follows me, I look at certain details, and it automatically follows them now instead of automatically following everyone or me having to do it. Now, I trust that my script is going to do it for me. It likes content on my behalf. It does different things that I’ve told it to do. Again, it’s made my Twitter experience easier because now all I care about is sharing content and looking at other people’s content, like who I’m going to follow.
Robert: Yeah, but I feel like it removes the value, though, in some of these tools, Twitter for example. Basically, people have bots that are just re-posting all their feed. Over and over again, they’re re-posting content they’ve already created, and it’s just impossible to read. They’re automatically following people, like you were saying, with scripts, so it takes that personal communication between us away from these tools. I feel like that’s where, in some respects … That goes into chatbots, as well. Right now, you can call up and have a phone tree where you’re trying to find someone. Everyone keeps pressing 0 because they just want to talk to a person.
By putting a chatbot in between there, you’re not improving anything. If I want to talk to someone, let me talk to someone, right? Don’t put a chatbot in place of a phone tree. It just makes no sense. It’s like, at least tell me how to get to a person. Is there a special code sequence I have to do or something when I’m talking to this chatbot? To me, that makes no sense. Don’t just replace one iteration with another. Even in my house, I just got a Google home, and it just … Voice to me is just a slow way to communicate with people.
My car is 11 years old now, and I've had voice-activated stuff in it, and I never use it because I could either wait 30 seconds for it to change my temperature or I could press a button real quick to change it. What's the point? That's not helping me get things done quicker by saying that because it's asking me, "Are you sure you want to change your temperature to 75 degrees?"
Scott: I agree.
Robert: There’s ways that we can use AI to make lives better. Self-driving cars is one that I’m really interested in seeing how that plays out because I do think there’s benefits there. If you think about the elderly, how do they get around once they get older and get to the store? There’s Uber and stuff like that now, which is great. Self-driving cars will take it to the next level. I can do other things in the car instead of driving and be more productive on a trip, for example.
Scott: AI as it pertains to the automotive industry is actually really interesting because it actually doesn’t replace jobs. It could for a taxi cab or a bus driver but, if you think about all the pieces, you know this, the data analysis behind all the data that it’s collecting, there’s thousands of jobs that will be created just around that to make sure that the systems are operating as they should and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. That’s a technology that’s enhancing our lives. You could take a nap and drive five hours to the beach. That’s awesome. You just increased your efficiency. You could work while your car drives you there. That’s brilliant AI, right?
It’s not destroying the planet. It’s creating things that are more efficient. If it can do it better and safer than human beings, because it’s more smart, then I think it’s an awesome thing. There is a long period of discoverability that has to happen, though, to make sure that they’re safe, and Tesla’s doing that now. When you go back to Twitter, it’s like I’m not replacing my social presence. I am automating my expansion of my network. I’m still sharing my own content, so I’m not removing the personal thing from me, but I am automating aspects of it that allow me to connect with more people.
Robert: That’s true. I feel like if you remove the personal aspect from some things that it could be detrimental.
Scott: Like a chatbot.
Robert: Brands all the time have bots, or they have people feeding it. They’re not really engaging with people on a personal level, so people start tuning out. At least, that’s my personal thing is, I start tuning out from that when I know I’m not talking to people that are actually trying to contribute. For me, Twitter’s just a fire hose of information that’s hard to keep up with that.
Scott: The one thing I’ll say, the final topic here before we go, is that there is a point, though, where if … Let’s look at the stock market. Let’s say you and I each wrote our own stock trading bot, which is something I’ve dabbled with before. You set some rules, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, and let’s say there’s a million of us doing the same thing. Eventually, we’re competing with each other. My trade’s trying to force the price up, your trade’s trying to force the price down, and it becomes a literal software war, so to speak. It can have longterm effects.
As we wrap this up, think about AI is great, but there is the potential to cause problems down the line. As everything becomes automated and they’re all automating against each other, whether it’s all automated cars, they all do things different ways and, as a result, what could happen?
Robert: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Stretch Goals Podcast. You can access the show notes for this episode and listen to other episodes by heading over to stretchgoals.fm.
Robert Dickerson is the Founder and CEO of Mapout a mobile learning platform that uses video courses to educate customers and train employees. He helps companies develop and launch their products.
Scott Davis is the Founder and CEO of MobX, a mobile development software agency. He has 20 years of experience developing software for Government, Finance, Sports and the Telecommunications industry.