Tim Ferriss: Kevin Kelly – AI, Virtual Reality, and The Inevitable

Tim Ferriss is not associated or affiliated with PodcastNotes in any way. All notes are independently created by PodcastNotes and do not imply any sponsorship or endorsement by, or affiliation with, Mr. Ferriss.

Kevin is Senior Maverick at Wired Magazine, which he co-founded in 1993. He also co-founded the All Species Foundation, a non-profit aimed at cataloging and identifying every living species on earth. In his spare time, he writes bestselling books, co-founded The Rosetta Project, which is building an archive of all documented human languages, and serves on the board of The Long Now Foundation. As part of the last, he’s investigating how to revive and restore endangered or extinct species, including the Wooly Mammoth.

Kevin’s most recent project is The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. The praise for the book is incredible, with Marc Andreessen saying it’s, “an automatic must-read.”

  • Quantified self: Meetings in over 300 cities, tons of sensors arriving to the mainstream
    • Still a ways to go, but likely shifting to opt-out instead of Opt-in
    • Are you wearing your Fitbit?
  • China
    • Kevin’s wife is Chinese, kids all Bilingual
    • Wrote “Out of Control” about the internet, before the internet happened – never took off, BUT
      • Crowdsource translated into Chinese and influenced major/famous people who talked about it
      • They have “this ridiculous idea that I’m predicting the future”
      • Alvin Toffler: Future Shock in the 70’s, was the world’s most famous Futurist way back when, Kevin is like the Alvin Toffler of China
        • Coined term “Prosumer” that you would be a user and a creator of something = now called user generated content
      • China Changing: On the cusp of a global brand that everyone will want, world class level, like Sony became for the Japanese
        • They are trying to innovate: they are coming to the west to learn (like the Japanese came to the West to learn quality)
        • They are doing all the right things, but cultural problems is embracing failure and questioning authority – hard collectively as a culture, but working on it
      • Singapore has tried to replicate Silicon Valley, well financed, but are very very small
      • China will differ in just the scale of people that translates into momentum and diversity – requisite complexity
      • Trying to making Silicon Valley would fail
        • Success will have network effects by category with only 1-2 big players, so don’t try do it for software, but try something new like robotics or biotech to grow and scale it
          • They already have this for manufacturing: Pearl river is not winning for cheapest, but because it is the best
        • Origins of Silicon Valley:
          • Read AnnaLee Saxenian, Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 comparing Boston with Silicon Valley
          • SV is so far from DC that they needed a new source of funding outside of Gov. (Boston was still hooked on it) = Venture Capital
          • Psychological division starting with 49ers and before, no adult supervision – This culture rewards risk/venture/etc.
          • John Markoff: What the Doormouse Said – Hippy origins of the Computer Industry
            • Hippies embraced computers while rejecting other technologies – they saw them as new ways to augment humans
            • Hippies did learn small business skills when selling their random wares
          • Freetown Christiania– Hippy Commune in Copenhagen
            • Semi-autonomous region/gov.
            • Worth visiting
          • Travel: Keeps my mind flexible – most exercise for my brain and to confront others and think about things differently
            • Every time I go to China, I decide I know less than the less time
            • Even the Chinese don’t know what is going on
          • Email management
            • Way harder/different if you are famous in any way – multiple accounts, assistants, etc.
            • Jeff Bezos: (likely 10 years old)
              • Anything you send to me, my assistants will read and are responsible with responding
              • But I also read it all
              • If I do want to respond I do also, so you might actually get 2 responses…
            • Kevin has a full time researcher, but doesn’t do email – Camille
              • Gather every long term forecast from anywhere to integrate them into one forecast of the future (10 years of longer) – “The Official Futures”
              • Across any potential topic
              • Official Forecasts are invariably wrong, but premise is that they are still useful if integrated together and info each-other
              • She also did the VR research for Wired Magazine article – need to footnote all details for the Fact Checkers
                • Note that books and Newspapers DON’T do that…
              • How do you choose projects to research?
                • Really good things that I can do, people enjoy and only I can/will do it – nobody is willing to even steal it from me
              • Favorite Books
                • Simplicity Books:
                  • (Tim) Marie Cundo- Japanese book about decluttering
                    • Take everything in your house, get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy
                  • All Too Much – in Cool Tools as the first tool
                    • If you have something valuable, show it – if you hide them then it’s waster
                    • So declutter so you have room for your treasure
                  • Not that big a fan of simplicity, our lives are just more complex to past generations and that will continue
                  • Life is the edge between order and chaos – this is healthy and source of health/wealth
                • Why are you not anxious about things?
                  • Zen Matra: Sit Sit, Walk Walk, don’t Wobble
                    • Whatever you are doing gets 100% of what you do, every conversation, conference, etc.
                    • I’m going to be present 100% of the time
                  • Read the Bible at least once in your life, a modern version
                    • Highly disturbing, influencing and your opinion will be wrong
                    • Same with Koran, Rumi, Zen Parables – Wisdom of the ancients
                  • Techno Literacy
                    • The Inevitable: About the next 20-30 years, the trends that are non-negotiable
                      • Chapter 1: SkillsMeta level skills
                        • Learn how to learn
                        • How technology operates: E.g. maintenance cost of tech, not just cost to buy
                          • Negative costs– whatever we have, there will be downsides to be aware of
                            • g. Automobiles kills 1 Million humans on earth – see driverless cars may kill some, but nowhere near 1 Million
                            • Ethical issues like the Trolley Problem will be real
                          • Not a language, but how to learn a language
                          • Buy things right before you need them, as they are immediately obsolete once you buy them
                        • Hire for attitude, train for skills – skills do matter, but other levels matter as much
                        • Do things on time, have people like you, be great – only really need 2/3 (Neal Gaiman)
                        • Do a lot of things, fail over and over again to find out what you are great at and find your passion
                          • Instead of discovering yourself, you have to create yourself by experimenting (Tim and Kelly are still doing that)
                        • Virtual Reality: There are no VR experts
                          • Right now there are no experts in VR, we have no idea how it will work – what content, equipment, consumer breakthrough, etc.
                          • So anyone has the chance NOW to become that future expert (same with AI)
                            • Voices of VR podcast
                            • 1 way to start, get some VR tech (google cardboard is almost free) and start making your own VR content – it is so complex and so much work to work things out – so much that has to be invented
                            • You’ll need to do this because you love it, not about economics
                          • Augmented Reality: Magic Leap
                          • Best AR/VR: The Void (Utah)
                            • Arcade version, full vest/suit and it is amazing
                            • Redirected Walking can mess with you to keep you in a circle instead of straight so you get a huge experience in a tiny room
                              • Can make you feel you drop 2 floors with only 6 inches
                            • Haptics are very interesting
                            • Like Cinema, it is able to trick/exploit our brain/bodies – Sensory Illusions
                            • Moving towards and Internet of Experiences – when you are there, you don’t remember seeing things, you remember them.
                              • First person shooters are TOO intense, maybe even give you PTSD…
                            • Using volumetric capture in motion down to the individual hair, they really feel there are there and your body feels they are there
                            • VR Sex: First into volumetric capture
                              • To be available, if you can afford it, in less than 5 years
                              • It will be a “sticky” problem
                            • What Most Excited About
                              • Personal: Asia, represents the future (I document culture this is dying off, sadly)
                              • Future: AI
                                • AI will be so disruptive
                                • The Industrial revolution was huge for Agriculture to make our lives so much easier/different
                                • AI will take all the things we electrified (and more) and “Cognify” them and things will keep getting smarter
                                  • Like horsepower, but you’ll get 250 Mind-Power
                                  • Google is already selling their AI, 60 cents/thousand instances
                                • Three Key Parts
                                  • Neural Nets
                                  • Farms of GPU units to process the data (from video game chips)
                                  • Big Data: Rocket Fuel for AI
                                • Fear of AI:
                                  • Possible, very unlikely
                                  • Trend to automation will create more jobs than it destroys (truck driving and other tasks will be taken away)
                                    • If you’re job is defined by productivity or efficiency – your job is going away
                                    • “Productivity Is For Robots”
                                    • Humans will be good at asking questions, being creative and experiences
                                      • Experiences are the only thing getting more expensive, all else is getting cheaper – not commodifyable (including innovation and science)
                                    • Sooner or later, there will be a large scale AI disaster, just like other things in history
                                  • Weaponizing AI is scary
                                    • We have assassinated people using drones, including US citizens with no trials
                                    • For now there are people making decisions, but increasingly there is pressure to do more of this and to automate the decision making with computers
                                  • First big AI wins:
                                    • Wins are not called AI anymore
                                    • What we hope to do is AI, what we can do is Machine Learning
                                    • First in with perfect translation in your ear/real time – Babelfish – 5 years or less
                                    • Assistant bots that listen to you and do it (like Amazon Echo)
                                    • Most AI will be invisible, like much is today
                                      • Your calculator is better than you in arithmetic – doesn’t freak anyone out
                                    • AI will think differently than US intelligence, which is why they are better at driving, remember every webpage ever (Google)
                                  • GMOs: Don’t be worry about those, we GMO is all sorts of ways in all crops. CRISPR is a lot better than doing it with breeding
                                  • Cyber Warfare
                                    • Zero Days:
                                      • Looks at Stuxnet virus to demonstrate Iranian uraniam processing
                                      • What are the rules when you can destroy actual things with a computer virus?
                                        • There are no rules and the US/everyone is working on them – nobody admits to it
                                      • Iran retaliated with a cyber army
                                    • Trying to Change?
                                      • Idea of consciously expressing gratitude as a habit – usually as an email (I don’t like phone)

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