19/99 – Jak będzie wyglądać przyszłość biznesu? Przywództwa? Jonathan Brill – Futurist of the Year

Poznajcie Jonathana Brilla.

To uznany futurolog i strateg, który swoją edukację zdobył na Pratt Institute w Nowym Jorku, specjalizując się w projektowaniu przemysłowym. Współpracował z MIT Media Lab jako konsultant ds. badań, a także brał udział w programach szkoleniowych dla menedżerów na Stanford University.

Zdaniem amerykańskiej redakcji Forbes’a Brill jest „najlepszym futurologiem świata”, a Harvard Business Review określa go jako „wiodącego architekta transformacji”. Z kolei Inc. uznał go za „legendę Doliny Krzemowej”, podkreślając jego rolę w rozwoju ponad 350 innowacyjnych produktów, które przyniosły ponad 27 miliardów dolarów dochodu dla firm takich jak Samsung, Microsoft, Verizon, czy PepsiCo.

A dzisiaj – jest w Polsce i mam przyjemność przedstawić Wam go jako kolejną Twarz #AI. Rozmawiamy o przywództwie, o nadchodzących zmianach, o biznesie, o technologii i przyszłości, która może wydawać się odległa, ale tak naprawdę jest tuż za rogiem…

Posłuchajcie sami!

PS. Przygotowałem również niespodziankę dla Was. Pierwsze trzy osoby, które wystawią ocenę podcastu 99 Twarzy AI na Apple Podcasts lub Spotify i podeślą mi screen tejże oceny na adres karol@99twarzyAI.pl otrzymają książkę Jonathana wraz z jego specjalną dedykacją…



Zdjęcia: Justyna Borowska  

Linki do odcinka:

Transkrypcja rozmowy

Disclaimer. Droga Czytelniczko, Drogi Czytelniku – mała uwaga dotycząca transkrypcji rozmowy. Jak się pewnie domyślasz – transkrypcja została przygotowana z wykorzystaniem magii LLM. Proszę o wyrozumiałość, gdyby pojawiły się w niej niewielkie błędy, literówki, etc. Żeby mieć pewność co do wszystkich wypowiedzi – polecam posłuchać, zamiast czytać. Ukłony.

Karol: Jonathan, it’s so great to have you.

Jonathan: I can’t believe I’m here in Poland with you today. This is really exciting. I love your podcast.

Karol: Oh, thank you very much. You’re the first English speaking guest at 99 Faces of AI. What brought you here to Poland, Jonathan?

Jonathan: So I’m speaking at the Futurist of the Year conference in a couple of days at the Nicholas Copernicus University at SGMK.

Karol: Yeah. And what’s your story? For those listeners who don’t know you, what’s your story? Why you do what you do? And what was your road to that?

Jonathan: So what I do is I help people. Generally, large organizations figure out how to make decisions under uncertainty when the data isn’t there to do it. And what I realized after 20 years of running strategic innovation and strategic invention capabilities for companies as a consultant and then as the global futurist at HP, at Hewlett-Packard, was that there wasn’t a document, a place you could go to learn how to turn disruption, how to turn the future, how to turn the unknown to your advantage. And so I wrote a book about that called Rogue Waves. In the last couple of years, I have been doing some really exciting stuff.

So I speak a lot, I consult a lot. But the thing I most love is this project that we have called Conference on Wheels. And so instead of going to a conference and hearing the big people talk, what we do is we bring executives around the world to places like Shenzhen, to places like Hong Kong. Last week we were in Kiev to change places on the planet, to really understand what’s going on, what’s going on on the ground, to change the perspective. The best way to change the future is to have an idea on the ground of what happens next.

Karol: The idea of what happens next or what to do next.

Jonathan: The first thing is the range of what is possible, because it is so much broader than our individual experience. When you think about The pandemic. Eight of the ten largest companies in the United States failed to identify a pandemic as a strategic threat.

Eight out of ten. Apple thought it might jank up its manufacturing because avian bird flu had done that a couple of years before. And the health insurance company thought we should probably just put that on the list in case. My point is We knew a pandemic was going to happen.

We know that these novel diseases are increasing in frequency for a range of reasons. And yet we weren’t prepared for a highly knowable future. That’s wild to me. And you don’t need to be prepared for every future. You don’t need to be prepared for a meteor striking the earth.

You don’t need to be prepared for A solar flare, right? But so often these things, they will impact your organization in relatively consistent ways. They’ll put consistent types of stressors on your finances, your operations, your environment, your strategy. When you prepare for those stressors, when you focus your innovation on taking those moments of change and turning them into opportunity, taking those moments of stress for your customers, and turning them into opportunity. You can have radically outsized growth.

A couple of days ago, I was in Kiev talking to the general manager of the largest producer of beet seed because they grow a lot of beets in Ukraine. And they said when the war came, their two larger competitors took a wait-and-see attitude. But they had the opportunity. They had the courage, the capability to lean in.

When everyone else was pulling out and taking a hit, they saw 14-plus percent growth in a year in a land war, in Europe, in agriculture that got decimated. Think about that. Are you going to win? Are you going to lose when the future changes?

Karol: So how about AI? Because we know that it’s a rogue wave, right?

Jonathan: So when we talk about rogue waves, what happens when multiple individually manageable waves in the deep ocean collide?

They can create a 120-foot-tall wall of water Just like an instant. They’re the kind of thing you can’t be prepared for. But they are the kind of thing you can prepare for. Because you can know when and where they’re more likely.

And you can know often how they’ll impact you. AI isn’t the rogue wave. It is… a large wave that is colliding with demographic change, geopolitical change, climate change, economic change, all at the same time. And so when we take those things and we realize that we can decide what year it happens, it won’t be 20 years from now, it won’t be next week, but in the next, say, two to seven years, the world will become a radically different place. And we don’t need to know exactly what that place is to understand the range of what happens when entire economic networks, communication networks shift. Because we saw the communications revolution. We saw the rail revolution. We saw the enlightenment and the knowledge revolution when printing shifted what we knew, changed how we learn as a species. AI is maybe bigger than all of those things because it’s shifting the way we work, right? What we’ve done in the communications revolution is changing the way that we create products.

Karol: Faster than ever.

Jonathan: Faster than ever. And it’s changing dramatically the nature of knowledge.

Karol: So how do you think how the AI will impact the businesses that we’re running right now? I’m not talking about the huge corporations. I mean the businesses that the middle class run.

Jonathan: I think in many cases… They are advantaged. If you are a large organization today, you’re sitting on top of enterprise software infrastructure like Oracle or SAP S4 HANA or something like that. If you’re a smaller organization, you might not have fully invested yet and certainly not fully invested to the level to which you can’t change.

Karol: So you might be more agile than the large organizations, right?

Jonathan: If you have the cultural agility… Absolutely. The issue, when you think about an organization, it’s made up of three basic components. It’s architecture. How do you command? How do you control?

How do you communicate? Who’s the boss? It’s routines, all the processes. So who does human resources? Who does legal? Who does supply chain? Who does marketing?

And then culture. How do we make decisions about what to do next? How do we align on what to do next?

If we believe that, like I said, maybe seven years from now, 2030, the world will be radically different, it takes about two years to change an architecture. So you want to buy a company to get the executives on board, get all that stuff figured out. A big company.

A mid-size, 200,000-person company. Yeah. Still, you’ve got to figure out who’s on the bus, who’s off the bus.

Everybody’s got to get calm, settled, comfortable. Technology has to change over. All that stuff just takes time. The second thing we’re going to have to transform… is the routines, right? How do you do human resources in a world where writing a job description is done by AI? How do you do legal in a world where a chatbot can support your junior salespeople in writing a contract instead of having standard contracts or having a lawyer looking over everything?

Karol: A friend of mine was running a company that was doing some prints on metal and plastic, the prints with the views of the sky with some stars. And he reduced the number of employees from 20 plus to three people just by using simple automation. And he’s doing right now 3x revenue than before..

Jonathan: I believe it. And so in that case, what we’re talking about, there are several major buckets of tasks we need to… I can go nine miles deep, by the way, on this if you want to. I don’t know how deep you want to go.

Let’s go. Really? Because it’s going to get geeky. Okay. So…

Let’s cut that a little bit. There are seven major categories of tasks that we think about in labor economics. There’s unpredictable physical work.

There’s predictable physical work. There’s data entry. There’s data analysis. There is stakeholder management, applied expertise, and then managing people. In a business where you have entire roles that are defined by one of those task categories, automation is going to be relatively simple. But the reality is for most of us, two-thirds or so of the tasks in our jobs aren’t in our job descriptions. So if you want to automate out that job, you’ve got to automate out all the tasks. It’s going to be some time before somehow the Terminator does that for us. And so when we take a look at this, what we’re looking at are these things where, yes, maybe in a place where you’ve already got high levels of robotic automation, like a laser cutting company, a three-axis CNC printing cutting company, something like that, we can see a significant decrease in labor.

But in a services company where people are dealing with multiple tasks, It’s going to be a slightly different issue. When you think about truck drivers, people are really concerned about lorries, especially in urban areas, which confuses me because that truck driver has to have a relationship with the store that it’s dropping stuff off to. They’ve got to get stuff on and off the trucks.

They’ve got to look around, see if whatever got dropped off last time, if there’s a lack. of stuff there right like a good truck driver is actually doing a lot of things that have nothing to do with turning the steering wheel it’s communication it’s communication and it’s dealing with edge cases right you’re often having a person there not for when things work but for when things don’t and I think the question is in a world of AI in a world of automation do you think we’ll have less edge cases definitely not So the jobs may change. The tasks may change. But the need for work won’t. And in a place like Central Europe, where there are demographic inversion issues, we’re going to need labor automation just to do the work that needs to be done. Because there will be less hands. To increase our productivity.

Absolutely. I mean, you take a look at the… The growth in Germany right now, it’s not good. And it’s a result of demographics as much as anything else. We’re going to need to automate to continue the rate of growth we’ve had during our lifetimes at a pretty radical pace.

Karol: You’ve mentioned the leadership. Is it possible to automate leadership?

Jonathan: Let’s break that down into a couple of components. So when I think about leadership… like we talked about before, it breaks down into three basic categories. Command, control, communication. So is AI going to be… And emotional intelligence? I’d say that’s a part of communication.

Okay. So when you think about command, who’s in charge and making decisions, for 28 out of the 32 metrics by which we judge doctors and telemedicine, Google DeepMind did a study and discovered that AI is actually better at 28 of them. Someone else did a recent study with an earlier version of ChatGPT, and they discovered that it has better bedside manner than doctors did. That might say something about your doctors. And what we’ve seen is that when you give ChatGPT personal information about people, It’s actually more persuasive than people are. It makes customized arguments to the type of person it’s talking to.

It really listens. That’s pretty wild in terms of emotional intelligence. So when we think about command, in many cases, 28 of the 32 metrics by which we judge doctors… It has the potential to make better decisions. Not always.

You’re going to want a human in the loop for quite some time. When you think about communication, well, it might be better at managing the human side of managing people than people in a lot of cases. That’s really interesting. It might be better than most leaders at helping people find meaning in their work.

Interesting. So not task-oriented, but value-oriented? Value-oriented. When you take a look at a lot of the work in organizational psychology, what they’re finding is that when people have a sense of purpose in their work, even a small sense of purpose, they’re significantly more productive. And so this is a critical part of leadership and emotional intelligence and making sure that as a leader you get the feedback loops where people are comfortable with talking to you about the hard things. So we talked about command.

We talked about communication. The last piece is control. In tops-down organizational structures, like we’ve had since the 1850s, where we have a board and a CEO and a C-suite and those are all functional leaders and then functions below those and that’s how we command and control, yeah, people will be fine.

But in a world where you have communication across business functions, you’re sharing data across business functions in real time, A lot of the necessity for that type of control structure, which was based on like we’re going to communicate across countries by telegraph, it goes away. Long time. But we’ve been doing it for a long time. We think this is the natural way of things. It wasn’t the natural way of things 151 years ago. It was just the natural way of things 150 years ago. This is what we’ve experienced in our lifetimes.

It’s not the best or only way that’s been invented. So I think that small to medium-sized organizations are going to have a better time making these shifts for a couple of reasons. One, They tend to have a limited number of shareholders. They tend to be founder or family-led. And so if you have a visionary founder or a visionary family, and for your audience, I hope you are, you can make these shifts. You can create this growth. You can change your world. You can improve lives for your employees and create the kind of productivity you were talking about with your laser cutter operator friend.

Karol: Because the tools are available.

Jonathan: The tools are there. The technology will be well integrated in three years, but it’s there today. The challenge is that our businesses and our cultures are not. Those are things that as a leader, you can change everything.

Karol: Now, will AI solutions be visible to the clients? Will clients of the companies see the technology that is replacing the people who are automating the processes and so on? Will there be any difference between a fully automated company and the company that was hiring, I don’t know, hundreds of people two years ago and right now is employing 10 or 15 people doing the same work?

Jonathan: So what we’re talking about is different layers of the organization.

So at the back end process layer, we’re going to see a massive amount of automation in the next five years. In terms of the customer experience… Well, if you figure your average salesperson has better bedside manner than doctors, salespeople may be there for quite some time. But should your salesperson actually be doing the details of the document? Should your salesperson be doing all of the in-between emailing?

Or do you want them out hunting? The relationship opening part is still going to be human. But those processes that are in the middle of customer experience, I don’t know. I think about Airbnb, which is they do home rentals. And how much automation they’ve put into that process to make it easy for me as a buyer to walk into a house in Poland, a house in Kiev, where I don’t speak the language and have things just work. Could your local salesperson, could your local homeowner provide that for me?

Absolutely not. I walk in, the Wi-Fi works at the press of a button. I know how to get into the house. I can often just take my phone and use it to lock and unlock the doors. I mean, it’s amazing what this technology does. The fact that I don’t have a human in that loop of the just tactical process stuff makes my life better. Do I like communicating with the homeowner and them welcoming me to the house and having something nice that they’ve made and all that stuff? Absolutely. That’s the point of differentiation when you can automate everything else.

Karol: So will the relationship with real people will be reserved for expensive products and expensive services? Will real relationship with the people, with the salespeople, with the service people will be kind of the premium service?

Jonathan: I would think about it a little bit differently. When you think, you know, so many people are listening to this on an iPhone or an Android phone. And you can buy those things for, you know, 200 to 1,000 US dollars. When you think about the research and development that goes into that, that is an insanely expensive product. But they’re making millions, hundreds of millions of them. The thing that will be hard for AI to do are the products where you make one or two or six. Not variations, but new things. Those are the things that will require human labor, human connection.

Karol: I’m not sure, Jonathan. How about artists, painters, for example?

Jonathan: So I was trained as an artist. I look at mid-journey and I look at the sudden commoditization of non-original art. So if you want art within a genre, you want something that looks like Dali, but it’s a teddy bear and it’s photorealistic, yeah, it’ll do that. If you want art in a new genre that has never existed… It’s going to have a really hard time doing that. It might inspire an artist to do that, but it’s going to have a really hard time doing that.

But what you’re getting at, I think, is really interesting. So I started off I wanted to be a photojournalist when I grew up, and then I wanted to be an art director. And I watched the magazine world just implode between 88 or so and 95, 96 or so. As several things happened, desktop publishing became cheaper, printing went digital, and the channel distribution changed. And what happened was that the cost of doing all of this stuff, the labor in doing all of this stuff, got commoditized. And so the people who were quote-unquote real artists continued to actually do relatively well. The people who were doing paste-up work, the people who were doing the manual technical labor were they had to change roles. So many of them became PowerPoint artists and started calling themselves graphic designers or art directors. But they were doing work that wasn’t as original as was required to lay out something like Life magazine or where there’s a level of mindset in curation in the project. My point is that so many of those jobs… in the entire value chain of getting a magazine from idea to market got commoditized, people found new roles, new jobs that in many cases required another level of conceptual skill to do at a premium level.

I think the same thing is going to happen here. I mean, I look as an author. I write books. what that means. I haven’t published it because the quality is not there yet, but I have a chatbot of my book that I ask questions of. And it gives me really interesting answers.

Karol: We did the same with the podcast of mine. Yeah. So we created the assistants that you can talk about the podcast episodes and ask questions about what’s been said.

Jonathan: It’s fascinating. And two years ago, it was nonsense.

It took about nine months or 12 months, and I asked a question, just a random question about… How do you do an FP&A analysis? So if you’re looking at buying a firm, this is a thing you do. It’s kind of an accounting thing.

Karol: Of a banana farm in Guatemala. Please continue. A friend of mine is running a big accounting office, so he might be interested in this.

Jonathan: Of a banana farm in Guatemala.

And how would I assess, based on that, how would I assess the risks that we haven’t accounted for based on my book? And the weird thing is it gave me a better answer than I would certainly come up with in 30 seconds. And it would certainly give me a better answer than the junior people who work with me would come up with in a day.

It did a really good job. Now, you need to know enough to check the assumptions. It’s answers. So you actually have to have a higher level of skill to actually work with the tool than you did before. Because when you don’t have that, you have to go through all of the assumptions yourself.

Karol: So shall we concentrate on learning how to be creative? Because if the tools are available, if the technology is available, if that’s a commitment, then what’s the most important ability? Ability to be creative? Ability to act, to use the tools?

Jonathan: The way I think about it is these tools are doing two things in organizations. The first is that they’re automating executive judgment. So the reason you hire a doctor is they have better executive judgment than you on your health. Well, when a chatbot’s better at 28 of the 32 things, and maybe in five years better at 32 of the 32 things…

You probably still want to have a doctor come and take a second look, but that skill set gets commoditized. The second thing it’s doing is it’s Broadening context awareness. So in a world where you might have all your Zoom meetings and you can have a chatbot look at all of the Zoom meetings in your business and look at all of your text files in your business and you can query it and start to understand things, all of a sudden everybody in your organization can have the kind of context awareness that your senior leadership has today. So it’s doing these two things, executive judgment and context awareness.

These are the levers of power that we have as senior leaders. We’re going to have to give those up if we want the advantages of this technology. We’re also going to have to teach people lower in our firms to have high levels of executive judgment. Because they’re going to have the same quality of decision support or better than we have as senior leaders today. They’re going to have the same amount of context awareness or better than we have as senior leaders today. So we’re going to have to teach them how to become dramatically better decision makers when they don’t have the right or all of the information.

Because if they have the right or all of the information, they’re probably going to make a better bet. So what we need to build is what I’ve come to call executive intuition. They need to build the emotional space, the emotional capability to step back from the stress of the moment and ask, where are those pools of value no one else is swimming in?

Where are the levers of power no one else is pulling? Because that is the difference between outsized success in business, outsized innovation in business and following the market. We need to teach all of our people the ability to do those things in a world where many of the tasks that we do. Many of the moats that we have in our businesses get commoditized or get washed away by the rogue waves of change.

Karol: A friend of mine is running an ad agency, and he fired 70% of the graphics he employed. 70%. He’s working for big companies. He’s employing a lot of people. 70% are not needed.

Jonathan: Does that mean that the amount of graphics production will go up by two-thirds as a result of these people being on the market?

This is the interesting question. I would have made the same bet with the death of the magazine, with the death of print publishing, that… Graphic designers wouldn’t be so needed, and yet we have more graphic designers than ever. So what are the competencies that are really important? What is the value the graphic designer really provides, that an art department really provides? Because it’s not moving rectangles around on a computer screen. That can get automated.

Karol: What would you say, I feel deep in my gut, that there will be some kind of comeback to old-fashioned blogs, personal blogs? How do you feel about that? Because as far as I remember, the blogs were kind of the intimate medium. And there were kind of great relationship between the authors and the readers in old old fashioned blogs. Look at Seth Godin, for example, what he did.

Jonathan: Seth is singular, is the first thing. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. So, you know, as an author, I’m kind of forced into the world of social media and putting out stuff every day. And what I’ve realized is if I go and I hire some Social media AI person, they’ll do social media AI stuff that will be as noisy as everybody else’s.

It won’t drive loyalty. That’s what I’m talking about. What I can do that’s different, there are two things I can do that are different. One is I can have a much more diary approach. In America, there’s a writer reporter named Hunter S. Thompson who started an idea called gonzo journalism. So instead of reporting on the event as it occurred, he would report on his experience of the event as it occurred. And Hunter would do a lot of drugs and get into all of these shenanigans.

Who knows how much of it was true, but it was hilarious and it was wonderful. And he would talk about being on the unique experience. I think that is useful. So I was in Kiev yesterday or last week working on this project to economically reconnect Kiev, and I made a video about my experience of the people in Kiev, which is a thing that is on the ground. It’s a tangible experience that AI cannot have, that AI cannot share, that people don’t want AI to share. I think those things will be very, very useful, very, very interesting. But I think there’s a second thing happening with the nature of content, which is if I can have a conversation with a book or a conversation with a podcaster, right? And it’s a video conversation and it’s real and it’s intimate and I can actually talk with you or your audience can talk with me in a deep way, right? I like that.

It’s a new kind of medium. And for me, I kind of love it because my time is limited on this planet. It’s the one thing that’s really limited. And so there are a limited number of customers I can service, a limited amount of change I can create on the planet.

Karol: The most limited asset we have. Yeah.

Jonathan: And so right now, my options are I can sell you a book or I can provide a really, really expensive service. And in between, there isn’t a middle ground, which is what 80% of people need from me. That gets interesting.

Karol: How about the chatbot that would be based on all your publications and all your work or your speeches?

Jonathan: Like I said, we’ve got one in testing. I think it’s fascinating. I do work with a guy named Don Bosco, and he’s got a company called BeReal.ai. And they make avatars where they can send out a video of you talking about some product or whatever to a customer. And it’s completely digitally created.

It’s the most amazing thing. And I think about what happens as that starts to happen in real time, probably like at the back half of this year when companies like Replicant start to scale. It’s going to change the nature of this medium. It’s going to change the nature of the written medium when you can have a conversation with virtual me about your actual problem. That’s mind-blowing.

Karol: So the personality is more important than ever, right?

Jonathan: Personality is more important than ever, but also in the next couple of years, I think, more automatable than ever. I have some thoughts on the European perspective on data rights as an American technologist. But I also think about myself as an inventor, an author, a creator of intellectual property. And the rate oftentimes feels like theft.

Yeah. and the lack of ability to protect it. I wonder what happens when we have to rethink copyright based on voice, based on personality. How the heck does the legal aspect of that work? You shouldn’t be able to steal my personality, but man, it’s going to happen.

Karol: So what’s your vision for the next 2, 5, and 10 years, Jonathan?

Jonathan: Could you give me a little context about for what and to whom?

Karol: For us, for the people, you know, we’re recording 99 phases of AI. And I’m totally aware that AI will impact all the aspects possible. We are not talking about the companies, we are not talking about, you know, big businesses. How do you think AI will impact our daily lives in two, five, and 10 years?

Jonathan: I want to have an honest answer. I think the way to think about it.

Karol: Look how, for example, social media changed the way we consume media. Look how personal branding become more and more important than ever in the time of social media as well. So how do you think the AI solutions that we see right now, so generating synthetic media, audio, video, automating, will change our lives? I know it’s general questions, but I’m asking about your feeling, about your gut.

Jonathan: So when I think about AI, I think about obviously a lot about Elon Musk, but I think a lot more about his baby mama, Grimes, the mother of three of his kids. They just broke up, and she’s a pop star. She’s very busy doing DJ sets and stuff around the world. So she doesn’t really have time to raise her kids. She’s got to bring the money in now that Elon’s gone. And so she’s invented a new plush toy, a new plushie. And it’s got a chat bot in it.

Karol: Do you remember Tamagotchi?

Jonathan: Yes.

This is Tamagotchi on steroids. And it will teach your kid science. It will tell its stories. It will be its best friend so that she can run off and do her music. And it will teach your kid how to think like Elon Musk. You might or might not want that.

But we’ll all end up having it. And I think the question that we haven’t considered yet becomes what happens when you take this toy away from your kid, take out the batteries, turn off the subscription? Well, you aren’t taking a toy away. You’re killing a member of the family. I mean, the one that talks.

A pet that talks. This is a new relationship with machines. So what does that look like? What does that feel like two, five, ten years from now to not have machines we enjoy? I enjoy my BMW very much.

It’s one of my favorite objects. But this is a totally different quality. of interaction with anything non-human than we’ve ever had when you think about social media you know I think about the Kardashians obviously so right now you know Kylie Jenner gets on things and she puts on her lipstick or whatever the heck they do to keep your attention and In a year, when your kid goes into the bathroom to put on makeup, she’s going to pull out her phone.

Kylie’s going to be there having a conversation with her about her makeup and how to put it on and how to do it a little bit differently and give her a little boost for the day, tell her she’s great or beautiful or whatever it is that Kylie wants to do to drive sales, to drive her brand. You’re not going to have a lot of control over that as a parent. This idea of virtual evangelists is… Pretty stunning. And we’ll all have them.

Karol: It doesn’t sound very optimistic.

Jonathan: Who knows?

Who knows how it ends up? I mean, the question is, what kind of life do we want to live? You can live a life on Facebook where you see nothing but terrible stuff.

And you can live a life on Facebook where you see nothing but puppies. I choose the latter. I think we get to choose much more the life and the interactions that we have.

I suspect we’ll be spending more time with our devices than less, more personal time with devices than people. And that will be very sad to me because I love people, I love bars, I love meetings, I love humans. But I think that’s the path we’re going down. And in that path, we’ll have… Increasingly individual experiences of life and less communal experiences of life. Ten years from now, I think that’s going to have some real implications for politics. What does it mean to have an increasingly individual society? Well, I live in a country with Donald Trump. I can’t imagine what’s 10 times that.

What does it mean to have the ability for lonely people to have constant companionship that’s supportive and kind and generative? I think that’s some really powerful stuff. So there are two sides of this coin. We’re moving into a dramatically different future.

Karol: So the black and the white side.

Jonathan: I think it’s a lot of gray. I think, you know, Neil Stevenson wrote a book in the early 1990s called The Diamond Age, which is to me like this book that’s just kind of perpetually like called the future. Like it’s just one thing after another, after another, after another, after another.

Mm-hmm. And it talks about, I think, four different scenarios of how this world plays out of AI and how people grow up in the age of AI and what societies look like in the age of AI. It’s really prescient. And what’s interesting to me is that you can have a group that decides to live in the olden ways but with new technologies. Or you can have a group that decides to live in the new ways with new technologies or You can have a group that decides to have a flatter class structure, and you can have a group that decides to have a more extreme class structure.

I mean, these are all futures that we can have on our planet in different cities and different countries. Whatever works for you, right? Well, I think that’s the interesting question is, is it whatever works for you? Or do you end up with a situation where it gets harder and harder to move? Our lifetimes, we’ve seen increasing globalization, we’ve seen increasing peace on the planet. I hope that’s what continues.

Karol: Hard thing, looking at what’s going on in Europe right now with Ukraine you’ve been to.

Jonathan: It is. And it’s also, for me, I hadn’t understood the importance of American air defenses in Kiev. What we’re seeing is global commitments to a way of life.

And I hadn’t understood that these defense technologies, like the Patriot missile systems, are really critical. to enabling a way of life, a way of being on this planet that I very much support. That’s the thing that could happen. That’s the thing that should happen, is that we come together and realize that in a world of climate change, a world of changing demographics, a world of resource constraints, that we can’t make it alone. The outcome of competition is far too dangerous.

For us to go that route i mean we saw what happened in world war one and world war two like world war three could be real bad if we decide to figure out how china and india play on the global playing field in the same way we did the last time um and for that reason i don’t think it’s going to happen that way like everyone’s pretty clear that that’s a bad idea And everyone’s pretty clear that the fall of the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t actually benefit anyone. We want changes in China, but it has to be within the Chinese context. You can’t have warlords with nuclear weapons. That’s a horrible outcome.

Karol: I’ve already recorded one episode of 99 Faces of AI with a guy who is focusing on China for a long, long, long time. And it’s kind of a different world. It’s kind of a different culture. It’s a totally different country.

Jonathan: I very much enjoy China and enjoy Chinese people. I’m heading over to Hong Kong and Shenzhen in a couple of weeks to bring leaders, uh, to China to see what’s going on in a post-COVID world. It’s going to be very, very different than what you see on television.

I can tell you that from all of our initial research. Whenever you go to Shenzhen, which is in the manufacturing center of China. When I go to a place like Bangkok, it’s a new city. It’s an evolved city. You go and there’s no subway system. You go a second time, there’s a beginning of one.

You go a third time. Five years later, there’s a train system. Ten years later, there’s buildings around where the train stops are.

In China, every year you go and it’s a different city for like I think 20 years, every four years, it’s doubled its population in Shenzhen. Think about that.

Karol: As far as I remember, they use China, mostly in Shenzhen, and they’re using the quantity of the concrete, the same quantity of the concrete in two years, like in the U.S., in 20 years.

Jonathan: Like across China it was every two or three years like versus 100 in the U.S. It’s mad. The scale, you know, in America we have this thing called the Grand Canyon, which is this giant canyon in the middle of Arizona. And you see occasionally postcards of it. And then you go there. And you’re like, I don’t even know why they bothered to send the postcard. You can’t explain this without going there. You can’t explain China without going there.

Karol: Exactly.

Jonathan: It’s unique. The culture, the place, the people.

Karol: The scale. The story, the scale.

Jonathan: This is the most dramatic change in human history. In 40 years, the development of China…

Karol: Have you seen the use, or maybe have you used the Chinese LLM model?

Jonathan: I haven’t. There are, like, last I saw, like, nine or a dozen Chinese LLMs. I mean, we make a big mistake when we think that they are copiers instead of leaders.

You know, by 2030 or so, they’ll be producing as much intellectual property as high-quality triadic-level patents. uh, is the United States. When I wrote my book, I made some projections, um, because it’s been on a straight line. It’s not, it’s not like there’s, there’s variability. It’s been a straight line since like 2000. Um, COVID janked that up a little bit, but certainly by 2030, we’re talking about a peer competitor to the U S in terms of innovation. Um, We make a big mistake when we think that they’re following, they’re leading, they just haven’t caught up yet. Exactly.

Karol: For those listeners who would like to do something for the future, do you have any kind of homework in your mind that our listeners could do? I didn’t mean even to read your book, which I highly recommend. But do you have anything in mind?

Jonathan: The most exciting thing you could do is we run a number of programs around the world. It’s called conferenceonwheels.com, where we bring leaders like you to where change is happening. We did one in Kiev the other day.

We’re doing… one in Shenzhen in Hong Kong in May, one in Silicon Valley in August. So if you want the luxury edition, that is the way to get ahead of the future. If you want to figure out what you can do in this moment today in your organization, there’s a model in the book about the five ways we fail to see the future at the end of chapter two. And there are three of those five questions I found to be really, really important for leaders, because you don’t need to know more about the future to see more about the future than your competition. The first question is, are you fighting the last war? After COVID, after financial shocks, what we see is companies saying, we want to be ready for that. Well, the reality is we figured out how to survive that already. The question is, what do you need to be prepared for next?

What are those things that have happened in history, but haven’t happened in your history? The second question is, how do you use your binoculars? Or are you using your binoculars instead of a radar? So much of the time, especially in process-focused companies, we get hit on hitting our performance targets, hitting the quarter, hitting our KPIs, doing this, doing that, doing this, doing that. And we get super focused on that. We use our binoculars focused on that future. And all of a sudden, we aren’t paying attention to anything around us and… The future smacks us up on the head. The third thing is what I call the elephant problem. We get so excited about all of the legs that we can touch and the tusks of the elephant and the tassel on the tail, and we forget that there’s an elephant in the room.

You’re doing one of those three things in your organization today. I guarantee it. Call it out. Change what’s happening. That is the best way you can prepare for the future without knowing anything more.

Karol: Jonathan, that was a great pleasure to have you here. Please enjoy your stay in Poland, and I hope this is not your last stay in Poland.

Jonathan: I am so excited to be here. I really, really love this conversation. The people of Poland are so kind and generous. And I love being with you all. Thank you.

Karol: Thank you very much. And may the AI be with you.