In this episode, I'm talking to John Arrow, who just sold his digital development company, Mutual Mobile. We discuss what goes on when a company is sold, the advent of AI in 2023, and what the future might look like for humanity with AI.
Hey everyone, we're joined by John Arrow.
John, how are you?
Doing great, Moby. Thanks for having me. I'm a big fan.
I'm glad we've finally been able to reconnect. It's been a minute.
Lots of changes, of course, with COVID and things are back, but you just sold Mutual Mobile and you're out of that. How does it feel right now versus 60 days ago?
Well, the funny thing is it's coming up in four weeks today, so four weeks ago we still owned the whole company and it feels like that last month has been a whole new world. For 14 years since we founded the company, every day I would wake up and my first thought would be to check email and see what happened overnight. We have a lot of operations overseas and so that would be my first thought, and it still is today.
We've sold to a great buyer called Grid Dynamics, a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ with about 5,000 people and we're really happy about that.
There's a year we're not with it where we're helping with the integration and everything, but it is nice to start to conclude that chapter and really attach our company to a partner that we think is gonna take it to whole new places. They have offices all around the world, they have skill sets that we don't have, and we have skill sets that they don't have. So it's kind of fun to see what's next.
I view it almost as a singularity. Before you sell a company, you don't really know what life's gonna be like after, and I can already tell you it's been a great decision, not just for myself, but for my co-founders, our other shareholders, employees, and team. So good fit so far?
Absolutely. Congratulations on that.
In terms of how your workload has shifted, and in terms of your day-to-day thinking, you just mentioned that you would wake up and it would be emails and you know, put out fires. The CEO, has your life become more peaceful?
I would say temporarily it has become actually slightly more chaotic, due to some of the integration aspects. Right. I mean, if you think about the moment you sell a company, generally speaking, the CEO doesn't just go to Tahiti and he's done with it.
He's trying to ensure that the team is cohesive and ready to hit the ground running. I have been very involved with this, and we hosted the Grid Dynamics team in Austin. So, in addition to prior duties, there have been many internal meetings. Therefore, temporarily, although there is a sigh of relief with the transaction being done, there is still more work. This is something that isn't always discussed right after a sale.
What are some things about the selling and integration process that people are unaware of?
The roller coaster of emotions is one of the most significant things. When you go through a transaction, some days you feel like your company is worth a trillion dollars and that you should never sell it. Other days, you feel like it's worth nothing.
This oscillation is quite taxing. To sell a company, you must talk to all of the buyers. You don't want to sell to the first person who offers to buy your house. You want to put it on the market and look under every stone. After talking to enough buyers, you will figure out what people are willing to pay. However, there are other considerations besides price, such as how long the buyer wants you to stick around after the deal, how the team will be treated, and what this means for your future.
The price is probably still the most important factor in the decision-making process, but other variables are close behind. You will ultimately come to one of two decisions: sell now or revisit it later. In our case, we realized that everything was going well and found the right partner, so we decided to sell. I think there are two times to sell a company: when things are going really well or when things are going really badly.
It's the opposite. You kind of have to just take it, right? And so we were fortunate that things were going really, really well. That's awesome. Yeah.
I remember hearing a story about this UK entrepreneur who created a company, a training company, specifically to scale it and sell it. This was about 10 years ago.
Specifically, he had a price in mind for two years, which was, I believe, 8 million pounds. And he shared a story of how he eventually settled on six because the 8 million pound buyout deal was on the table, but he didn't want to work for that company for a while, and that was very important to him.
For you, was there something that was really important to you outside of the earn-out period or the price?
I think that's a great question, and I think that's what's fascinating. Like the person you mentioned in the UK, he was realizing and uncovering that there's more besides just the Delta 2 million pounds. There are some other considerations that you start to care about more. And for us, it was the same. It was, let's find the right partner, let's find the right fit. We've built something that goes beyond just the $250 million of revenue that we've generated over the company's inception. We have these relationships and these friends and these supporters of the company, and we want to make sure we're doing that in a way where they're going to have value into the future and get to grow.
And that became super important. You know, we were really fortunate that the buyer and the price kind of lined up and happened to be the same one. Yeah, because there are situations where it doesn't necessarily go that way, and you have to make a hard decision.
The other thing I'll say is any personal convictions that the CEO has and cares about along the way really start to test the culture because, when you're selling to another company, they inevitably have a different culture than you, and it's not going to be an overlap, even if both cultures are great. So there are compromises that are going to have to be made. And on the team side, you end up seeing other sides of people, like executives that you have worked with for years, employees that you have worked with for years.
Even though you try to confine it to only the people who need to know, the transaction can be incredibly distracting to the team. You have to bring other people into the diligence process, and during that, you start to see new sides of people. I wouldn't say necessarily bad or good sides, but it's kind of this Nash equilibrium, this game theory playing out where people go, "Oh wow, this is actually happening. So I'm going to put my chips on the table and show what I really care about." And it's a fascinating way to get to know people better.
I'm really grateful that this was my second transaction with Mutual Mobile, so I had seen those personalities before, and everybody behaved admirably and respectfully. But it is fascinating for people who haven't been exposed to a transaction and a process, especially newer employees who say, "If you want me to go along with this, I want to make sure of A, X, Y, and B." And so you have to start entering that into the calculus or part ways with those employees.
That's a lot to manage for a CEO, existing customers, potentially new business, existing team, all in the middle of a transaction. Then there's a huge stakeholder involved outside. Just like in many aspects of entrepreneurship, I'm guessing you had friends or informal mentors who had gone through a similar process. Was there any point this time or in the previous transaction that some advice or something that somebody who had sold a company before shared with you that really stuck for you as good advice?
What a great question.
I think again, the fact that this wasn't the first rodeo, I was able to rely on the advice I got earlier on. And one of the pieces of advice is, "Hey, the moment that you sign a term sheet or an LOI is when the leverage switches."
So during the sales process, when you're going out to market and saying, "Hey, there could be a fit here. Are you interested in purchasing the company?" everybody's kind of courting you.
They're wooing you. They're giving you potential offers. Once you sign that LOI though, there's a mandatory exclusivity period, and diligence begins.
And you know, you want to make sure it's with the right buyer because that's like a call option, and you can't be in the market. So I think being cognizant of that and making sure you're ready to enter diligence is critical. All the points are spelled out upfront. It's easy to want to go through the process at a faster velocity.
Yeah, with the LOI, jumping into diligence, however, the way to avoid any dissonance is making sure it's spelled out in the LOI. That was advice given to me the first time around that I kept this time. The other critical piece of advice is telling as few people as possible during the sales process, not because of an information leakage problem but because of the distraction problem it causes. If your team or those close to you are too aware, it becomes a forcing function and may lead to a sub-optimum decision.
I hear that. Really good points, especially the one about spelling everything out.
Every entrepreneur learns early on to have everything written down regardless of verbal assumptions. It's crucial because it applies to every aspect of life, whether selling a business, starting with your first client, or selling a house to your brother.
The real estate analogy is great.This time we did it without an investment bank, although we had used one in the past.
And I will say it's a lot more work. Just like selling your house without a realtor is a lot more work. Mm-hmm. , that being said, I'm glad we did it this way. It kind of forced us to go. and kind of analyze all of the different details. And there were probably other things that maybe if we had been working with a bank, we would've glossed over.
Mm-hmm. . So I'm glad we did it this way. And for anyone else considering the sales route, it's certainly an option, but it is a lot more work.
The other example is that I'm filing for my wife's immigration papers, and I have that option. Should I do it myself and learn everything, or do I go for a lawyer? The first time I did it through a lawyer because I don't want to risk anything going wrong.
Now, I'd like to shift gears and talk about the future and what you're thinking about. There's a lot of pressure on the CEO in times of chaos and a lot of information and stakeholders. If you don't mind sharing, what personal qualities or leadership did you see yourself tested and grow during this time?
I think the biggest thing is to be explicit about the goal of selling the company. When I came back as CEO of Mutual Mobile, that was the intention. We knew we were going to do a process again and sell. Where you get into trouble is if you're distracted and unsure if you want to sell or not because companies that are growing are solicited by bankers, potential strategic investors, and financial investors.
If you take those calls and meetings lackadaisically, you can sleepwalk into a big distraction. In our case, we were intentional about it. One of the counterintuitive things is that during a declining macro, which we have now, it's a great time to sell because companies are having to do layoffs, and they need to show better earnings growth. A good way to do that is through acquiring other companies, so paradoxically, it can be a perfect time to go to the market.
That's interesting. I had never thought of it that way. So thank you for sharing.
It's also a great time to start a company.
In 2009, when we started the company, it was during a time of huge subprime fallout and unfortunately, there were lots of layoffs around that time. However, this meant that we were able to attract the best and brightest, who were mobile and interested in emerging technology, while office space was relatively inexpensive.
Suddenly, companies were forced to invest in new technologies, so they came to us. It seems like we're in the midst of another one of these cycles. If you're considering starting a business now, I think this is the best time to do so.
Is it true that your first app, way back in 2010, was Hang Time and that it was pulled from the app store?
Actually, I have some insider knowledge to share. I never disclose this, but before Hang Time, we had another app called Finger Tangle. It was like Twister for your fingers, and it was our very first app. We were college students at the time and didn't want to spend the money to buy an iPhone from Apple, so we made the game in the iOS simulator. We weren't sure if the touch capacitance would work or not, so our friend Medora let us borrow his iPhone when it came out, and we bought it for 99 cents. We were thrilled when it worked!
Hang Time came right after Finger Tangle, and it was indeed the app that was pulled from the app store because it endangered the lives of skydivers. It was a very controversial app.
It's interesting to consider the potential dangers of technology and how it can put people in risky situations, such as with the Hang Time app and with current trends on social media like TikTok, where some users may copy dangerous stunts and get injured.
I agree that there are concerns with TikTok, not only from an information security standpoint but also with regards to its potential use for propaganda.
I wouldn't be surprised if TikTok gets pulled from the US by mid-summer, which could present a great opportunity for an entrepreneur to create a TikTok alternative or help influencers transition to other platforms like Meta, Snapchat, and others. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Yes, so it's an interesting time because, as you said, the ability to program people is a broad way to look at it. It's true because, at the end of the day, on a micro level, you're on a screen and watching videos.
I noticed this early on in TikTok. If I watched a video by a creator and didn't even like it, I just watched it and moved on. The fourth video would be there in this world of hand-curated stuff that they want us to believe we like. You mentioned TikTok potentially being pulled from the US.
Where do you think the biggest opportunities exist? I know you're into AI and venture capital, but from a consumer standpoint, what are your thoughts?
Well, let's look at the biggest thesis of the last 20 years, which is that the world is becoming a more addicting place. We're figuring out how to do shortcuts to get the dopamine hits, and that's a dangerous thing, especially when you reduce those cycles. If we were here a year ago and you asked me that question, we would probably be talking about crypto.
Let's pause and reflect on that for a second.
In one year, how much has changed in the crypto realm? It's unfortunate that we had a crash, especially for people affected by FTX, Luna, Voyage, Celsius, and others. Nevertheless, for the industry as a whole, this is a healthy thing to have happened.
It's like a forest where intentional fires get rid of the shrubbery and fire risk, and the forest grows back stronger. We had the same thing in the dot-com boom and bust, where companies that were overfunded and overhyped but didn't produce cash flow ended up blowing up. This will leave the true innovators and those that have to create something of value. I think crypto will come back stronger than ever.
Now let's talk about AI, which is in the hype stage. It's where crypto was several years ago, at the very beginning. You're going to see every company add ".ai" to the end of it, just like everybody added ".com" to it, no matter if they didn't have anything to do with the internet in 1999. It's happening again, and it will play out in much the same fashion. There will be a ton of interest and capital. Some of the companies will become the next Google or the next Microsoft. The others will become the next Enron or the next FTX, which is unfortunate, but that's just how it works.
And so, I mean, given that we know how this is gonna play out like a thought experiment that I've been asking myself, this Imagine Moby, you could go back with all the knowledge that you have today, and you go back to call it 1994, but all of the company's names are different.
So there isn't a Netscape, there isn't a Microsoft, there isn't a Google all called different things. And then the actors are all different. There's not a Bill Gates, there's not a Mark Zuckerberg.
Later on, they're all by different people. If your goal was to kind of produce a financial return and have a big space and a big impact in the space, what would you focus on during that time?
What would be your strategy?
Let's say you can't invest in that fund, no index funds.
What would you do?
The year is 1996?
Sure. Ninety-six, ninety-four, whatever you call it. You can go back any time in that era. Yeah. If you want to start a little later, you can.
Yeah. So first off, I would, and this is obviously just a thought experiment, but it would align myself in the fastest-growing industries, even though I know they would, yeah, pretend with 1996, even though I would imagine they would crash.
You don't know if you're investing in Microsoft or Google.
I would network like crazy and find, I would focus on search.I would focus on search.
I love that answer. Would you create it yourself or would you go and try to invest in it?
If I had the means, I would invest in multiple companies and try to attach myself as much as possible.
That's exactly, I mean, I've started asking, I just came up with this thought experiment recently. I have been asking it a little bit more and more. That is a beautiful answer because I know that I couldn't create Google AdWords or search, and the challenge of picking the company would be difficult.
So you almost have to realize that the danger would be errors of omission rather than errors of co-commission, right? If you invested in a dozen companies that turned out not to be Google, as long as you've got Google in there, you're gonna have that 100,000 x return or yes, that 10 million x return, actually, depending on how early you were.
And so I think that's playing out again, right? We know for a fact there are going to be these hit companies within AI. Unequivocally, there's going to be a company that challenges Google's existential existence. It might be OpenAI, Microsoft, or someone else. We don't know who it is, but they will exist.
They're going to probably traverse every single domain out there, from healthcare to financial services, to defense, battlefield of the future issues. And so the danger of our own issue is so much more damning the air, the danger of commission, even if we're wrong a few times.
And so where my head goes and where I'm interested in is, how can we avoid the mistakes of the past?How can we avoid the blowups of crypto and.com?
Maybe we can't do that in the industry as a whole, but at least from my perspective, I can do my part and the people that I work with. We can avoid that. I think the best way is to focus on these themes. Come up with these theses that we say, look, we're just going to invest in companies in that space.
As long as the team is good and the prospects are logical, reasonable, we're going to deploy capital there and see what happens. So currently, in the early days of forming an AI venture fund, we're calling it Age of AI Capital.
The whole idea is that we're going to do just that and try to explore more of the unsexy areas where AI is going to have a big impact.
There's going to be a lot of fun stuff that AI is going to do, and we're going to try to participate a little bit in that and learn about it. We want to contribute to the bigger stuff, which is going to be the area that nobody has really thought about yet. What can AI do within construction technology? What can it do within customer service? What can it do within legacy logistics systems, where all of a sudden, it could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year for specific businesses and generate new revenue?
Chatbots and AI generators are fun, and there are going to be so many cool things that come out of that, but there's going to be a neglected area, and it's going to be those industries that I mentioned.
When you think about AI and the next 50 years, everything is just going to get faster and faster. Right now, most people interact with AI through chatbots or the new avatars with AI building structures. What are some things that we'll be heavily interacting with in terms of AI in the next 50 years?
Have you seen Blade Runner? In that movie, there are AI girlfriends or partners. Where do you see human beings interacting with AI in a way that we might not be thinking about right now?
That's a great question, and it's something I've been pondering. Right now, we view AI as separate systems that we use when we need them, like generative AI, stable fusion, or chatbots. But in the future, I think the lines will blur, and we won't even think about using AI. Instead, it will always be on, always listening, and trying to enhance our lives automatically.
We can imagine, for example, that if you've had a long day, your AI might suggest a massage and schedule it for you, and a car will show up to take you there.
AI will be like a personal assistant for everyone, another part of your brain that looks out for your behalf. There won't be a divergent evolution, but a convergent evolution between us and AI systems. It's hard to describe, but I think it will be a magical thing when it happens.
Yes, and I think you used the word 'integrate.' It encapsulates this idea perfectly.
I remember when Alexa devices first came out, and it was all about how voice is a new frontier of marketing. I thought, 'Oh, let me try something.' So I bought a few Alexas and played around with them.
At first, I had no idea what to do with them. But now they're integrated into our daily routines. I'll wake up and, while on my phone or doing something else, say, 'Alexa, what's...' It's not super intelligent yet, but it's becoming more helpful in small, meaningful ways that we can't even see.
Eventually, we'll take it for granted. For instance, why can't it automatically order an Uber for me on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5:00 AM, since that's when I leave for the gym?
I like that you said take it for granted. That should be the goal right now. Nlp, natural language processing utilities.
I don't take it for granted. If Alexa understands what I say the first time, or Siri actually gives me information of what I asked, I'm like, whoa, yeah, I got lucky here. Right? And it's, I, I feel like something really is going my way versus when I put, you know, a frozen pizza or something in the microwave.
I don't feel lucky when I cook it. I'm like, okay, that's what it's supposed to do. I'm taking the microwave for granted. I'm not taking the NLP stuff for granted yet. It needs to get to that point. It's still for most people, pretty far away. Mm-hmm. , there's been some instances of hooking up, um, chatgpt3 with things like Whisper that Open Eye also did, so you can have a conversation there that's getting closer and closer.
So I suspect over the next year we'll see a huge refresh from Amazon and from apple. And from Google on some of their voice-based products where it won't be frustrating and you will start to take it for granted. And at that point, okay, that's something's really happening here. Yeah. But, just a little bit of not getting it right can be incredibly frustrating.
Yeah. What you mentioned about voice, and I just thought of a random use case, hypothetically, if AI can understand one person. And AI could be a therapist?
It would be, my mom is a psychotherapist and, and I've talked to her about this and she says, yeah, I think it could help a lot of people. In fact, one of the areas where I think these chatbots and generative AI can help a lot is with loneliness, right in this country already.
If you use any of the chat products out there, forget ChatGPT3. If you go back five years and use some of the earlier ones out there, or you go back 10 years and use something like Smarter Child with AOL, it's already kind of better than 99% of the conversations that most people would have in a day, which made me sad, but it's true.
And so eventually, it'll probably be better than a hundred percent of them. Loneliness is a huge problem in this country. Yes, there are going to be a lot of bad things that happen because of AI and potentially job loss. But the latter, I think can all be mitigated. Loneliness, though, is one of them where it can help a ton with individuals, and I think it could reduce depression and anxiety.
Giving somebody else confidence to talk to is critical. Yes, I highly suggest psychotherapies. That's a crucial one.
Of course, you said something I really liked that stuck with me about 20 minutes ago. You mentioned addiction when it comes to dopamine and social media, and the social network comes to mind.
And you know what? These platforms are curating content for us. We can now easily get an Uber or order food delivery. Yesterday, for example, I was with a friend who called an Uber and got dropped off at my house, all with a few taps on their phone.
I thought it was cool that everything is very on demand. And eventually, we may even have the ability to talk to a person, but we won't be able to tell if they're real or not. And because we'll probably be paying for the service, we can customize their aggression, their affection, how assertive they are, and more.
I wonder, a hundred years down the line, how spoiled humans might become because we won't have to do anything. We won't have to conform to a lot of things because we'll just be using systems that are designed for us individually.
It's a really dangerous thing.
If you think about it, I don't know if this is a silver lining, but it's something that is a forcing function. If you look at ways that this has been achieved historically, it's been with drugs, and the reason that people don't do that is because it leads to negative consequences down the line.
But what you're kind of getting at, which is fascinating, is with AI and other emergent technologies that are all hitting this confluence together, you could get all of the good dopamine settings for people. You could hit everything, and there's no real negative immediate physiological problems with it.
And so people are going to get to choose whether they want to be in the real world or in a world more akin to the Matrix, where they get to choose what they have and what they see. If you think about Apple's AR glasses that are eventually going to hit the market (although they have been pushed back), you can filter out what you want in your world. If you want it to be a sunny day when it's cloudy, that'll be a possibility.
If you want to filter out some urban decline in your city and graffiti, you could get that away and just see your own perfect version of the world with rose-colored glasses. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing because it can stop progress as one of the risks. So I suspect this will be a hotly debated area and probably an extremely regulated area soon too.
Putting aside the discussion of AI, let's talk about its impact on individuals.
You know Ryan Holiday from Austin. He writes a lot about stoicism and one of their key philosophies is to make yourself do hard things because it's extremely valuable. During that time, just like today, people who choose to do hard things, whatever that may be for them, will experience psychological benefits and become stronger.
But the question is, if in 200 years we have the ability to enter a matrix or live out here, which option is better for the individual?
That's a good question. I'm not sure.
Shout out to Ryan Holiday's bookstore. I spent many afternoons there just browsing and looking through all those books. What a cool, curated area. Because yeah, I'm with you, right? There's that saying, "easy decisions, hard life; hard decisions, easy life." And this new technology will give people the choice. Do they only want to have an easy life? And for many people, that might be okay, right?
If we think about it, it might allow them to pursue other things. Because if you jump to Star Trek: The Next Generation, there's no currency anymore. People are going out, exploring the cosmos, and they're learning whatever they want. It seems to work. I don't know if that can work in real society.
However, if AI starts to take jobs at an extremely accelerating pace, society may not be ready for this. And I'm the biggest capitalist in the world. That being said, we may need a universal basic income. That could be possible, right? And so what happens in the world when everybody has all the material things they want, they can have? This would be a good problem to have, but what if everybody has all the medicine they need, all the food they need, all the shelter they need, all the education they need, even the travel?
Then how do we, as individuals, fulfill our time? Are there deeper intellectual pursuits or deeper social interactions? What's left for humanity when there's nothing hard to push against? Do new conflicts emerge just so that we can feel some difficulty?
That's an interesting question. What would happen if we have everything we desire? It's likely that humans will continue to create new things and remain busy. Perhaps we'll spend most of our time at the gym.
Probably, that would be a great outcome, right?
Yeah, one hundred percent.
Yeah. Hopefully not like the Star Trek thing where we're just flying in and warring with other stars.With other alien nations, right?
But it is also interesting how, I think - no, I'm not going to project in the future, but human beings have always fought and killed each other. It's always been tribe against tribe, nation against nation, religion against religion.
And as we progress, I think the ability for human beings even when everything is great, every need is fulfilled - to fight for things is amazing. And it's going to be interesting to see the next 5 to 6 years.
There's that saying, "only the dead have seen the end of war," right? And I think no matter how good technology gets, there will still be conflict. The only hope is that the conflict fostered by new technology is more constrained.
Right. You have a situation where maybe the robots are fighting each other, or you can say, "Hey, these smart weapons, we need to make sure that they never interact with someone who isn't directly part of the conflict." So that's potentially one beneficial thing already.
If you look at the battlefield of the future with AI, it's, you know, how can you achieve the mission objectives with the least amount of collateral damage? That's still a ways off, but the hope is that if we can't stop the conflicts, we can at least reduce some of the hardships and mortality necessary as a result of them.
Yes. And it's interesting how I moved to the US in 2010, and I think about how in 50 years, let's say, there will be parts of the world which will benefit tremendously. Just like with any technology, whether it's ships, guns, paracetamol, or treatment for X, Y, Z, there will always be sections of the world that will be able to use it to advance while others won't. It's just fascinating to see how, if we read the history of the world for the next thousand years, the countries using AI will advance in society, while others may not have access to it.
Unfortunately, this has been the case for every single thing that has existed for human beings, with certain nations having advantages and others not.
Well, on that note, one of the biggest and most overlooked technological innovations that is going to change the world for the better is SpaceX's Starlink. This is a huge game-changing device, way bigger than just getting internet access to remote places.
For people who have ranches, this is going to provide access to the world economy for the first time, opening up opportunities for those who have never had it before. The last time we saw something like this was during the dot-com boom when fiber optic cables connected Asia to the rest of the world, bringing new economies and innovation to parts of the world that had not had it before.
We will see a similar impact on an even grander scale with Starlink. Moreover, it is relatively resistant to censorship, which means governments will not be able to stop it easily. People will have access to information, and we will hopefully see democracy flourish as a result.
And it's even bigger than AI, right? Once we get that figured out.
I really appreciate you bringing up that point, because when I think about an example that's more relevant to 2020 versus 2040, the TikTok boom comes to mind. There have been a lot of international influencers who went viral on TikTok and were able to make a living because their videos became popular in America and Canada.
In Europe, there's a guy named Khaby Lame. He's a young immigrant in France who moved there when he was 10 from another country. He makes these videos where he doesn't say anything, but he just pokes fun at small things and asks why people aren't doing them. Because of his TikTok following, he's now signed with Nike and become an ambassador for Hugo Boss, all thanks to technology that gives him access to the rest of the world. Your point just made me realize how much access technology gives to people that we don't even think about.
That is so awesome to hear. I mean, how many more Elon Musks are out there? If we can get them connected on the world's sphere, how many more Albert Einsteins are out there? This is the biggest leveling sense, probably since the printing press.
Wow, I like that! That's great to hear.
On that note, when you think about the people listening right now, or those who are saying, "All right, I'm interested in this," but don't know where to start using AI or how to start thinking about using AI to solve problems in the next one to two decades, and knowing that you are going to partner up, encourage, and foster a lot of these companies using AI, what would you say to people who are interested in learning how we can solve problems with AI, even if they are not super familiar with it?
Well, what you and I were talking about before we got started is the best possible use case of how you're taking things you're already doing, and throwing them into generative AI like ChatGPT3, and it's helping with your transcripts. It's helping you in those ways.
And I think before you try to build a company around it or come up with the next big idea, you should try to adopt it into your current workflow, and it can help you immediately. That curiosity and playfulness is what leads to great company ideas.
Anyone who isn't using ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion, Mid Journey, or any other similar tools can easily sign up and it's free. It can already help you a lot, and there are many things it can do to make people's lives better. It can be helpful in your day-to-day tasks, not just for labor arbitrage. There are some cool things you can do with it.
For instance, you can use it for scheduling or as a sounding board for something. One of the things my dad has been using it for, which I find fascinating, is to better understand physics problems. Our family is very interested in space and physics, and unfortunately, many articles out there do not allow you to ask questions in real-time, but ChatGPT does. You can give it hypothetical scenarios and ask for edge cases. For example, if you're going at 90% of the speed of light and you turn on your headlights, what's really happening there? And it does a pretty good job.
However, it can be wrong sometimes, and the scary thing about ChatGPT3 being wrong is that it will double down on being wrong. For instance, if you asked which is heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of lead, it would tell you a pound of lead is heavier, and even come up with math supporting its original answer. So, it doesn't have that kind of error-checking yet, but it will soon.
I believe you mentioned something very important about this. And see what it can do
It made me think of how my wife is currently looking for jobs, and she hates writing cover letters.I suggest telling her to input the job description into ChatGPT and use the generated cover letter as a starting point. She can then edit it as needed and go from there.
The fact of the matter is that somebody who is already using ChatGPT and familiar with it is a huge asset to any type of employer. It's mind-boggling to me that higher ed institutions have banned this technology from campus.
You've seen K-12 schools ban it due to concerns about plagiarism risks. Yes, there is a risk there, but kids who are going to plagiarize will already do it. This is the newest skill, and education should be helpful in getting people to embrace it within the confines of computer science.
My biggest gripe about computer science graduates is that they are taught to do their own code. When in reality, you want people who can take other people's code. Of course, you want them to sign rights and make sure it's open source, but you don't want people to login or the identity management process from scratch. You want them to take those things. It's going to be the same way with AI.
So that's, that's amazing that your wife's already using that and I think anybody who's using it is way ahead of everybody else.
You're absolutely right about. At one point calculators… We were frowned upon to use it and now we can, we walk around with the calculator all the time.
And then remember a few 10 years ago, Wolfram Alpha was a huge thing, right? It helped me a lot with my homework. And in the real world we have access to all this. So why bat it?
It's just mind-boggling. I suspect those voices about banning this will get louder and louder because AI will replace a lot of jobs, right from customer support reps to CEOs and founders.
Unfortunately, no job is immune from this. AI is going to be on your turf, and unless we learn how to use and embrace it, it's going to displace us without our consent.
People who can program and understand AI will use it to displace others. So, the trick is to get familiar with it now rather than argue against whether it should be allowed or not. Because regardless of what the government is doing, the cat is already out of the bag. AI is going to be here to stay.
Yes, it's too late to stop.
Yeah, just like the internet, so all of it's here.
John, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed this conversation and learning a bit more about your story and what we talked about regarding AI and the future of humanity. This has been great.
This was a blast, Moby.
Thanks a lot for having me on. I’m a big fan. And let's do this again soon.