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Contrarian Futures


Theo Priestly

Theo Priestley is a Futurist based in Scotland and he's mentored Silicon Valley startups, has written hundreds of articles on AI, IoT, Web3, Metaverse, Fintech and he's the author of "The Future Starts Now". He has a habit of making some big bets on the future, but also he's not afraid to put out his thoughts on the future as they develop. Priestley is a contrarian at heart though, and his futurist lens comes from the conflict between technological advancements, policy development and human nature. It's not always clear which of these will win out as the future unfolds, and Priestley is not afraid to play off this uncertainty.

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[Music] this week on the futurists Theo Priestley what kind of world does that
leave us for people if that level of automation is is running rampant in the
world and I think this is the thing that keeps me up at night at the [Music]
moment hey welcome back to the futurist I'm Rob TK and I'm with my co-host Brett
King dialing in from Chicago how you doing Brett yeah I'm well I got a bit of a cold today I don't know maybe it's cuz
the cold you know the windy city it's a bit it was a cold out last night when I was walking home maybe that's why but
the most miserable weather in the world pretty much yeah I used to live
there and it's like summer is a month long it's a nice well have you ever tried living in London yeah but London's got London so
there's more more there to benefit from than just the weather yeah you know speaking of which Speaking of which you
know one of jobs on this show is to bring people who are thinking about the future in fresh and interesting
ways and that's why we reached out to Theo Priestly to join us Theo welcome to the show um BR R Brett Robert thank you
for having me and if we're talking about the weather then we all know if you can tell from my accent I'm from Scotland
and we have the best weather in the entire world it's like four seasons in one day that's true what city are you in
Edinburgh I'm in Edinburgh yeah yeah yeah right on great that's a great town good to have you on the show thanks for
joining us I've been checking out your medium posts which I found very interesting one of the things I like
about you is that you're willing to do a thing that a lot of people are cautious about you're willing to put ideas out there that aren't fully baked you're
willing to think about it in an interesting way that's real fun for our audience to listen to and hear about uh tell us a little bit about what you do
as a futurist your approach to thinking about the future yeah I mean I I kind of fell into
the the whole futurist thing um I mean I've been writing and um well if we go
all the way back I've been collecting comics and science fiction since I was a child you know I have bookshelves filled
with science fiction um and in fact if you remember the old analog um pulp science fiction magazines from the 50s
and 60s I have 600 copies all the way dating back from the 50s all the way up to
2010s um and and and I just found myself immersed in science fiction and always
thinking about what's coming next kind of thing and it wasn't until I was deathly bored doing project business
transformation kind of projects that I just found myself you know writing about what was actually happening on the
ground versus what was what the analysts were talking about and that just led me to exploring you know what I like to
think about in a sense and like you say I I you know in my writing it's very conversational I wear my heart on the
sleeve and I don't really care if I write something and it's complet and utter hogwash um at the time and and and
completely unformed because I want to spark the conversation with other people to think about the whatif and oh he's
wrong because or he's right because and and it's the conversational piece and
and that kind of spark that I really want other people to to take hold of and run with
so I I've got no idea how many startup ideas could be sitting in my old blogs but if someone looked at it and thought
that's a great idea I'm going to run with it and see where it goes good on them all the best to you and I hope you
raised money and I hope you're a success but at the time I just didn't have a clue what the hell I was talking about
um yeah but that's how that's how ideas get started you were just mentioning before we started recording that you were looking back at some of your old
blogs from a few years ago and you saw combinations of ideas that at the time
they seemed like science fiction but today they're becoming increasingly realistic it's increasingly probable and
candidly that's what future ISM I you know I actually I I I say um um often
you know obviously I'm a Sci-Fi fan as well um uh but I I will often describe
the role of a futurist as short-term science fiction right there is science to it um but you know and because it's
not um you know yet alive and implemented it's it's it can be considered fictional so um you know the
Sci-Fi guys just tend to be longer term you know if you you look at a lot of the Sci-Fi that there's written today that's
the the big space sare stuff you know it's it's maybe 10,000 years in the future or an undetermined you know
period Millennia in the future because it's hard you know as William Gibson said it's harder to write stuff this
near term future today because um things are changing so rapidly and so bizarre
the present that we're in sounds like a science fiction story to begin with you know with all kinds of just look at any
newspaper the uh the one difference I think you know we bring a lot of Science Fiction onto the show it comes up in
just about every other episode episode we are either talking to a science fiction writer or someone who is profoundly influenced by sci-fi like you
are it comes up a lot because I think that that's our habit right as people we like to tell stories um you know what
what futurists do or what forecasters do is they do scenario planning and what is scenario planning if it's not
storytelling right we posit a scenario and then we start to tell a narrative about it the difference is sci-fi writers do it in a more interesting and
accessible and and exciting way it's more relatable and no surprise they're better storytellers so maybe futurists
are just boring science fiction writers that's one way of putting it yeah I mean we write research reports
and unfortunately it's not peered with interesting characters is it yeah we have to ground it in like analytics and
data and make it seem more plausible that way I was just noticing uh um one of the authors that comes up quite often
in the show is Robert heinlin and in 1949 he wrote a book uh that I thought
was incredibly relevant and I want to bring it up it's called The Man Who Sold the moon and if you hav it's a short
story it's actually it's a short book it's actually quite a fun book because it's about privatized space and he wrote
it in 1949 when we really didn't have a space program so that's pretty awesome awesome forecasting or awesome vision
and uh the character in it is a is a character named delos Harman who's this ambitious uh kind of hard charging
business executive and it's all about how you would go about the process of privatizing space now that story today
when you look back at you like well there's a blue Prince there's a there's a you he set forth a plan or you know a
vision and architecture for someone to go fill and today it's entrepreneurs like Richard Branson Elon Musk Jeff
Bezos who are attempting to fill those shoes uh and privatize space you've written quite a bit about this topic
what's your take about the privatized Space Race we're in an interesting time
because although the privatization side has has opened up lots of opportunities for smaller companies to to essentially
take a crack at it get funding there's a very small amount of people or or
certainly companies with the the required amount of funding to actually make a difference and actually become
successful and obviously one of those at the top of the mind is SpaceX and if you actually look at where SpaceX has
come privatization has almost led to a monopoly now where almost nobody can
actually touch SpaceX you have rocket lab and other people like that but really in reality who are people turning
to because SpaceX has not only the Rockets but the rocket Cadence or the launch Cadence but also
the success yeah and if you are doing you know a multi-million or you know
hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of research and development to do to launch something in space you're going
to turn to someone who has the success criteria to put it into orbit or send it
to another body you are not going to take the risk on something like you know a 3D printed rocket that didn't make the
second stage for example and so you know there is a there's a huge Gulf in terms
of privatization between companies who are one of these Monopoly right and and
we're in a monopoly like you say I mean and you've got the dreamers as well which is great to dream I mean obviously
science fiction fuels that and people want to mine asteroids and things like that but realistically how far away are
we from ever reaching an asteroid to bring something back you know you know even even the smallest amount no you
know we haven't well we did do a sample return we've done one sample return Mission from an asteroid but um you know
there there is uh not a business but you know I mean the O I mean space is more accessible now and that's the thing that
it will will change you know the the cost to orbit um you know uh right now I
think SpaceX is running it at what 11,001 12200 uh per kilogram to orbit um
Starship will get that down to around $100 kilogram to orbit the the space shuttle was 30,000 and the Apollo was
50,000 so you know space is a lot more accessible just because of that lowering
of the cost but um you know I mean as Elon will argue it happened because of like first principal thinking and
engineering and priv lot of the space industry that let's get real NASA was
loaded with Engineers but they never managed to achieve they were never able to drive that cost curve down the way
the way he seems to be able to and like you say Theo it's self reinfor forcing uh now I think nasau is entirely
dependent on SpaceX to get things into orbit or to get them to the space station what's going on with the space
station right now because it seems like this little island of cooperation between the United States Russia and
other nations where you know we're kind of all on the on the planet surface we're all caught in geopolitical
Conflict right now and everybody's opposing each other but but it seems like cooperation still continues in
space is that true um I did I not read that the the Russians want to pull back
and certainly the Chinese have their own space station anyway and they don't really want anything to do with it so
and of course the space station is now you know they're already talking about either throwing it back down or chucking
it into an higher orbit to do something else and and so that's reaching a you know the end of its useful lifespan yeah
and it's kind of like an antique at this point right it's absolutely it's what is it 35 years old 40 years old like parts
are breaking and wearing out and so just a couple of Russian cosmonauts just uh
just moved the radiator out onto the wing today or something they just they just did a space walk a few hours ago
yeah but I mean you've got you know talking about privatization again you got Sierra space who's obviously doing some work with um with closely with NASA
to start building modules for the next generation of space station and you've got other people who want to put you
know blue origin or whatever want to put up commercialized space stations which I you know I find quite an odd idea who's
wanted to send email or a fax from uh from the space station or sending
sending your exec up in space to do space meetings and then bring them back down it's kind of like a
weird a weird use case let's put it that way but um you know our next step is
obviously sending up another uh a replacement space station and of course that's going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars or billions of
dollars at the stage you know but like Brett said the accessibility sorry the next next Space
Station's going to be at the LR point it around the um in lunar orbit isn't it um
yeah they're talking about Gateway isn't it right gate but the thing is is that you know to me and this is this is the
thing that obviously it's it's all down to cost money Etc to me to actually B
the the current space station entirely rather than push that out into further orbit and act as a kind of Midway point
if it needs to be um or even push out towards Mars or
something like that and actually have it as some kind of you know a science station that could be parked in in
another orbit just seems to be a a real waste of opportunity I think um but
obviously I'm not in charge what would be a better use what would be a better thing to do because if they don't do something it's going to come crashing
back down to well they're they're talking of actually giving it a gentle push uh rather than it coming crashing
down so they they actually want to actively decommission it and deorbit it um I think there's probably more value
in trying to just push it into another orbit where or even CIS yeah it takes so
much effort to get it into low worth orbit you know what's 100 tons or I
don't know the the weight of it now but um but you know what why would you you know if it hasn't completely failed why
wouldn't you you know continue to make use of it if you know you could commercialize it you can have SpaceX
take over the ad administration of it and running it you know SpaceX is now getting involved in a mission
potentially to um service the Hubble which they'd sort of written off um so
Jared isaacman who who was um you know the the first private uh um flight that
they did the the you know what they call what do they call it the Endeavor um I
can't remember now but he he's looking at doing something with the Hubble so you know SpaceX is a logical part
talk about the other firms that are in the space besides SpaceX let's talk about some of the other firms virgin
orbit notably just went belly up right that they're auctioning that off next month uh that was uh that was they say
that was a private space company I could never find a business model and Theo to your point they were trying to find a way to fit into the market space uh of
offering privatized launch Services of some kind you know for for companies that didn't maybe want to deal with
SpaceX or blue origin or any of the other leading companies uh but they never managed to find like a
product Market fit and as a result uh they went bankrupt a month ago and now they're look likely to get sold off on
The Chopping Block next month uh what's what's happening in the UK you you've written about the UK companies but
you've been quite critical about the UK's approach to privatize space yeah I mean the UK um the UK is famous for I
think trying to stand toe to- Toe with um the US market and certainly the European market but it's never had the
funding behind it I mean if you look at some of the um announcements made by the UK Space Agency for for example it's
like oh two million we've raised you know there's a 2 million pound Grant and it's like oh that's great and then but
spread across 60 companies over the next three years and it's like what I'm giving you $20,000 I could get a loan
for that then um you know that's that's the kind of effort I think that the UK
likes to to talk about and it's the same with AI as well they they always boast about some huge inordinate amount of
money but it's spread over a long period of time and it has to be spread over a certain number of companies and then it
becomes very diluted in that sense in terms of the real impact that money can do um and this is why you know companies
like um orex for exam for example or deorbit is another one although de
Orbit's got plac in the UK but I don't think it's fully UK I think it's Italian but orex for example was started in
Scotland um and they're another sort of launch launcher um and they've had to raise outside
they've raised Capital significant Capital outside um and they're are close
to doing something um in terms of their first launch and building their first rocket Etc um but I think even them they
are considering heave hoing the UK and and then going to to Europe taking their
operations solely in Europe so it's um you because breit is this partly because
of Britain's isolated at this point um I I again I think I don't it's part and
part I think brexit's had an enormous impact on just basically entrepreneurialship and the availability
of money um within the within the the country itself but I think there's a a
certain amount of stagnation in terms of ambition um you can raise precede money
up to a point and then you have to go elsewhere to become successful in scale
um and certainly in the space industry you need that scale you need that scale of money and the availability of talent
and what the UK has become is essentially a data service center for satellites um that's the only thing that
we've become good at which is trying to build the service model to take data
from satellites and then sell it on but what we're you know in some shape or
fashion and fashion a business model out of that and sell it to insurance companies or whatever what with found
and what I'm seeing now is that that's starting to implode because nobody wants to buy data that you can get from Google
Maps you're essentially trying to sell Google Maps and monetize the same kind
of data part of the issue is also is is that if you look at the addressable
market for uh space Transportation you know you have the smaller operators you
know relativity um Firefly you know um uh rocket lab so forth but a lot of these
are now pushing into larger um you know launch platforms because you know
there's not a huge small market for micro sets and things like that you know it tends to be you know um buyers of of
uh SpaceTime um you know in terms of getting getting Rockets into space tending to launch commercial
communication satellites you know and things like this that require just bigger bigger platforms and bigger
budgets although you know there is you know technology shrinking shrinking those down to some extent as well do
that there's a natural tendency towards Monopoly I the seems like a time this particular moment in history seems like
a time where Tech monopolies uh are finding that at Great scale they can dominate new niches without any effort
we're certainly seeing that in artificial intelligence large language models uh there's infrastructure and hosting costs for that are tremendous to
train those big models seems like something similar is arising in space based on what you're telling me that just the launch alone means that it's
the industry is going to consolidate around a handful of players is that what's happening yeah I think um I saw
space Capital talking around the fact that I think there's between 160 to 200
launch launch type services that are in various stages um whether Inception or
you know serious funding and they're expecting that to consolidate or certainly disappear and and be chopped
down to about 30 by the end of the decade MH um and that you know and again
we you know we have to sort of talk about the SpaceX Monopoly Here is that the fact that they're so aggressive and
bringing down the costs means that any small or younger company has to compete
with that cost um uh to to you know per kilogram to launch to orbit and not only
that is again success factor the fact that you can ride share on a larger vehicle now like
Starship um is more attractive because you can you know you can accommodate multiple projects um and like Brett's
saying the miniaturization of some satellites means that you know you can actually send up L you know either
larger payload what larger payloads of smaller projects again multiple satellites all at once rather than rely
on the people that I think virgin orbit we trying to do especially for the the horizontal launch which was always a bit
of an anomaly in terms of launch type capabilities you know sending a firing a
missile from the back of a launched in in in the days gone by but it was all suborbital yeah
yeah with the c i mean we we are we are literally now you know a day away from
you know we this will this episode will Air after the the first orbital flight
test uh of Starship which is um you know pretty huge there's a lot happening uh
next week actually as well um there's a Japanese company that is going to attempt the first private uh company to
land on the surface of the Moon um it's uh the Haku a space spacecraft from a
company called ipace so they're um they're looking to land on the moon uh on April 25th actually so there's um
there's still a lot happening in the space it's a really I mean there's more happening in the space industry today
than there was during the Apollo time really sure yeah there's more than two
players in the space and CH entering there's going to be competition again you know it's weird the the geopolitical
competition actually Spurs Innovation right it's space race is a form of War
right it's a form of geopolitical conflict just taken up a level I suppose
uh so that will add a little competitive zest to it but what we're starting to see is the private space companies they
become geopolitical actors as well you know SpaceX has played a significant role in the UK Ukraine conflict uh and
just this week There's Been news about Russians uh trying to hack into this basx um into their their cubat network
uh to interfere with the operations there because they're you know they're giving uh they're giving internet access
and and guidance to uh to Ukrainian forces so the Russians very much want to stop there and they both Russia and
China have let it be known that they have a way to destroy those Cube sets in other words uh you know they're they're
targets they're considered legitimate targets of warfare fortunately we haven't seen any of that yet uh though
the Chinese have demonstrated that they can destroy a satellite like they they've already demonst their capability well both Russia and China have the
problem with that is it creates space junk yeah you know and it's that's dangerous it could make uh nearo orbit
um untenable over time you know so but uh and that's space have you heard about
the have you heard about the um the Pez dispenser for Starship Robert no so you
know you know the Pez thing where you get your little they basically created a
satellite launcher for the Starship to launch this um the uh uh starlink Series
2 satellites out of the Starship so oh so we can just pop them out one by one you mean that's what you're saying with
the PE dispenser oh cool yeah yeah that's start well listen they're their vision is to quadruple the size of of
starlink that's a lot that's we're talking thousands of satellites that'll be launched and that and SpaceX is not
the only company uh blue origin wants to do the same thing right so they're seeking replic you can imagine tens of thousands
of cube sets and this is making some people crazy because it's not just space junk it also gets in the way of
observation you know the ability to see what's going on in space from ground installations uh and observation posts
um hey hey we're gonna probably need to take a break here and what we tend to do uh when we do the show feel is we do a
we like to get to know our audience we like our audience to get to know our guest a little bit better and to do that
we ask a series of short question questions so these are short answer questions uh more about you and how you got into futurism hey Brett take it away
ask the short questions we'll go to break all right this is the lightning
round what was the first science fiction you remember being exposed to oh
wow um I think it had to be it has to be Star Trek I remember it um running home
at uh when I was at Primary School um uh coming out of school about halfast 3 in
the afternoon running home having dinner and there was a black and white portable in the kitchen and Star Trek was on at
6:00 on BBC 2 I remember watching Star Trek on black
and white in my dad's office yeah on the black and white so yeah um get that what
um what technology do you think has most changed Humanity oh it has to be the internet I
mean there's no doubt about that I mean it literally was a Black Swan event that nobody could have really predicted and
of course it just took it by storm um has it changed it in good and bad ways yes it has um but the one that's had the
most profound effect definitely the internet and name a futurist or a Sci-Fi
author entrepreneur that has influenced you and why oh good question there um I okay so
one of one of my favorite authors is Frederick Paul um uh old sort of SC you
know 1950s 60s scci science fiction writer and um he wrote a book called
Gateway and it to today it's still one of my favorite books because it combines
kind of future gaze towards what humanity is like the discovery of an alien civilization and fast travel to
the stars in in a completely different way um and the fact it has a robotic
robotic psychotherapist called Sigman Freud um is is is especially interesting
because the story is told through some of his sessions it's like that depressed robot
on red red shift was it red red DF yeah yeah uh no yeah yeah you know what I'm I
was just think about is how funny it is we need to put context around these science fiction authors like Frederick
pul or earlier I mentioned Robert he Highline because for a new generation these are names from the ancient past
you know they're not about the future at all they're about the 1950s there was a time where you could read everything in
science fiction when we were kids you could be familiar with all the authors you know Andre Norton and so forth right Ray Bradbury some but unfortunately now
it's expanded and now every every sci-fi author writes a series of books you know it's not a single book they're writing a
multipart series so they're absorbing more and more of your attention all right let's go to break we're going to take a break we'll be right back after
this with more from Theo Priestly on the
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welcome back to the futurists I am your host brick King with my co-host Rob TK
and we have Theo Priestley the futurist on the spot for today in the hot spot um
Theo um you know when when when do do you identify yourself as a
futurist um or is that sort of something that other people gave you the moniker of I think it's more something that
other people kind of started to call me just because of my writing and what I started to speak about in general I mean
I'd always looked at emerging technology Trends and for a while I worked as a chief of Technology evangelist and for a
software company and it was my role to kind of project forward to clients and to the external Market you know what
these Trends looked like and where they were going to converge what it was going to mean for like their businesses Etc
and and I think like I said uh right at the start I think I kind of fell into the the futurist kind of um uh tagline
more than anything else it was I was wasn't something that I officially studied or gained a qualification in and
um and it's something that I don't think you need to have a qualification and
it's definitely a mindset um and I've spoken to numerous
children or you know teenage people um who um who have that kind of mindset and
and I'd love to see them coming into this profession more so than you know the old gray hairs that we have on on
you know here today I think one of the things our audience is interested in is methodology we like to think about we to
learn about how do you think about the future you talked about a couple methods one is that you read science fiction you think about alternative scenarios
another one is that you blog ideas that aren't fully baked so you're putting your ideas out there to the public to get some feedback what are your other
methodology how do you follow Trends how do you keep up with all the different things that are changing is do you have
some particular proces for that so I I so on the current side of things
obviously I use social media an awful lot to actually listen to what is going on um and then I project backwards in
terms of what has happened in the past that we could potentially relate to what's happening today to try and find a
correlation to project forward a few years and see where it could go you know what are the effects on people what are
the effects on uh Society at large what happened in the past that could be projected on top of business and would
this current Trend necessarily track the same way so it's almost like a a weird
you know tangle of combinations of things you know of of different types of methodologies that I'd rather cherry
pick from rather than follow one specifically it was like back in the day 25 years ago when I used to do lean in
Six Sigma in business transformation um just kill
and oh I used to do cobal as well that's even
worse um but um there are a lot of purists out there
and they're like no you must follow this you know green belt and then black belt and we must drill down to the N degree
to find the you know the patterns and things like that and lean you know you have various methodologies and lean can
ban Kaizen etc etc and and I was I was more akin to well I'll take that piece
from lean's you know Six Sigma I'll take that piece from lean and I'll mash them together and actually I'll get the
result that I want well was not the result I want it wasn't like TR to manufacture the result but get come to
the methodology that works for the particular scenario that it was working in and it's far more effective I find
especially in futurism to kind of use a combination of different methodologies and different methods and research
Styles how important is timeline we had a guest on recently who talked about Ray kwell and one of the points kerswell
always makes is that timeline matters that you need to time your predictions you can't just make forecasts because
you know someday we'll all take vacations on MAR we' had some futurists that don't right that's right some
people they don't want to stick to a timeline yeah and I think that's kind of bogus candidly it's like what kind of futurist are you if you can't put a date
on your prediction yeah um I'm I'm I'm of that
kind of sort of ilk where it's like if you can at least of hang your hat on something and even if you're wrong you
can always readjust your forecasting that's the thing whereas if you don't hang your hat on on a date then you can
say oh I I I I said this would happen then you know when when did you say it and when was it supposed to happen so
yeah and to Kurtz's credit and actually his predictions when
they come true they're you know you can say he predicted this would happen by this date and generally speaking he's
pretty accurate relatively speaking I would say he's Rel he's pretty accurate not as accurate as he claims no I was I
was going to say Theo you know the definition of a futurist what the real is there a real definition of a futurist that's my my
definition never been wrong [Laughter] today Robert's heard that about 60 times
I think I agree it keeps getting better though so keep good keep going with that so Theo when you look out at the
landscape today you look at the news you watch what's happening in socials you're thinking about the future what gets you
excited like what are the trends now where you say oh that's cool that's something I want to explore I want to learn more about
that I so one of the a couple of the trends one we've already covered in extensive detail which is space because
you can see that the the common good that that will happen in the future if we do it the right way um the other one
which which really still fascinates me is and and it might cause people to sort of Ru eyes and groan um is not only web
3 by the metaverse as well um so web 3 I I fundamentally believe that it's a
shift that will run alongside the old web until a point where you can either make a choice of which which web you
want to live in is a decentralized web or is it is it the one that we we we grew up or some of us grew up with and I
do believe some of the core tenants of decentralization data sovereignty Etc will actually extend into our lives and
one of those um again I I went back to check on Old blogs and one of those was like how do we use those kind of
blockchain and decentralized Technologies to ensure data sovereignty when we look at the artificial
intelligence Trend and you know stop the data scraping and how do I protect my my
identity for example we're seeing people's identity now being cloned voices likenesses
Etc so there's some exciting Technologies there and in the metaverse is something I think once we get past
the oh it looks like Roblox oh it looks like fortnite stage and actually understand that it is
multifaceted realities that work together at the same time then there are
some really exciting uh things that could happen with with that technology as well and then of course you have the
convergence you know all a lot of these times people go you know people think of them as very siloed
Trends um and they're not at some point they will all converge
they accelerate each other right so so all the Technologies you just mentioned rely on one common piece of core
infrastructure which is microprocessors and you know the big advances now in semiconductors are
happening in in graphical processing units gpus not CPUs GP that's where is
shifted to now GP shifted exactly so more so the advances in GPU are uh
driving parallel processing right that's what you use a GPU for you can't use it for a single-threaded process the way
you use a CPU parallel processing advances things like artificial intelligence particularly large language
models and deep learning uh realtime 3D Graphics which is really relevant to things like the metaverse and games and
then of course crypto mining right so these three Fields benefit from parallel processing and the cost and the
performance of those gpus is dropping right so your your price performance index is uh is improving constantly
meaning basically a dollar of M you know a dollar of computing gets cheaper or more powerful each year uh each every 18
months or so that means that uh you know as things get cheaper we're going to use more of it so it's easy to make a
forecast here that you say okay the things that gpus power which is
3D crypto or blockchain broadly and artificial intelligence particularly
deep learning those three things we're going to use a lot more of them because the cost of it's going to go down one of the big impediments to crypto in general
and any kind of blockchain consensus-based web three activity is that was C the cost of computing was
expensive you remember a few years ago people were complaining that we were you know melting the Earth or burning up the
environment because of all the crypto mining that was going on Bitcoin mining but that's gradually going away as an
issue uh you know today arguably that complaint has shifted over to large language models which are equally
environmentally destructive if you want to use that lens uh but that issue is going to go away over time uh as the
cost of compute goes down and processing power gets greater it'll consume less resources and of course the algorithms
get more efficient as well so those three things are going to reinforce each other and that's where it gets really exciting to see those three Trends
converge even um you know when we talk about Apple's launch of their smart
glasses platform um you can see you know smart glasses are a natural device for
marrying with a personal AI you know where you you know it's responsive to
your communication uh your behaviors and so forth you know I I I definitely see
those two uh Technologies converging yeah that's the spatial
Computing that I think we were promised maybe about five or six years ago um and
especially from the personal assistant point of view what Google Amazon sir Apple all promised us from from their
personal assistance which we're pretty much stunted until these large language models have come along um to your point
Robert about chips um there's some really interesting things happening right now um so there's obviously
neuromorphic which is essentially you know mapping the the algorithmic know
how the calculations and the algorithms work according to how the brain works but now we're seeing something called
organoid intelligence which is essentially pring human stem cells onto chips to make them more efficient at
processing now who's to say in the next you know you know and then you've got BCI brain computer interfacing as well
on top of that now who's to say that the whole idea of you know in terms of
rakers while Singularity isn't going to happen um or or is going to
happen potentially faster because of some of these outlier um uh
breakthroughs you know organoids uh for example on on chips could lead to more
um integrated or or organic means to plug ourselves into or have a chip um
implanted in our brain um which leads to us becoming part of the singularity that Reay was you know was talking about and
that was going to happen in 2050s or 2060s so we are the Borg yeah he made he
made the forecast and he didn't necessarily say how it was going to come about he just what's going to happen and the how is up for grabs but what both of
you just mentioned both Brett and Theo mentioned is this role of the human being in this process so we tend to
think of this stuff is isolated from us it's out on the cloud it's out on a computer it's you know it's distant from us we use it we're the beneficiary of it
but it's not about us right but the reality you know when you think about uh AI in the context of augmented
reality what it really means is the human beings are the sensors for the network we're the ones walking around with the gear and we're collecting the
data we do it today you know this Apple watch is collecting data for Apple's intelligence right now and when I have
goggles on my head that are gathering data about the world around me basically I'm being the eyes and ears for the
robot right for the AI it'll collect data based on my behavior my motion as I go through go through uh time and space
but there's there's another Trend apart from law the overarching trend is that
computers have got easier to use and have been made more accessible as the technolog improved but ultimately the
version of that right is that Computing is just built into the world around you
but the responsiveness to you as an operator individually requires it to per
be personalized it requires adaptation to your behavior your Styles I think
that's why chat GPT is the most most successful consumer app launched in the last 10 years and it's grown so fast
because like for once people can deal with an AI directly we've been working with AI we've been using AI in Search
and maps in Translation and so forth you know even the way movies are recommended
to you on Netflix there artificial intelligence and all that but consumers don't really see that we don't have any experience of that but for the first
time ever chat GPT made it possible you know inside open AI there was a little bit of a debate there right because the
artificial intelligence researchers which form the core of that organization they didn't want to release it to the
consumer public they wanted to keep it a large language model as something that the researchers could use or that industry could use uh but Sam Alton
pushed for it and overnight this organization went from being you know a kind of a a research facility to running
the most popular consumer app right now on the planet the hottest consumer app on the planet people are really responding to it's it's your point but a
computers are going to get easier to use because they're going we're going to be able to talk to them we won't need to program them or speak to them in a
specialized language language or memorize commands and so forth Go full futurist on us s what do what do you
think the world's going to be like with these these Technologies in the world you know how
do you how do you think about our daily lives in this future world you know if I
if I was going to go f full futurist and say 2050 or 2060 for example then I
think you know we are going to have the kind of I would like to see actually I would like to see it lose our dependence
on on the mobile phone and the mobile phone is rep by these personalized assistants in a sense so you know the
old Star Trek communicators where you just tap it and you're like hey do something for me blah blah blah and and
it spawns numbers of Agents little you know little automated agents that run away in the background and perform the
tasks and then come back and tell me what it's done um I I see that as being
far more again intuitive a world to live in than us being tied to a particular screen or device um and it feels very
much like her that movie with with wacking Phoenix for example um but what
what kind of world does that leave us for people if that level of automation
um is is running rampant in the world and I think this is the thing that keeps me up at night at the moment um and and
I might go full full futurist but also contrarian here in in the in the sense that are we letting this technology run
far ahead of us without actually understanding exactly what the impact is so I mean Goldman Sachs has said 300
million jobs potentially are at risk most of them are white collar granted um but 300 million equates to one in 10 now
that's quite a high proportion when you think about the global WorkForce One in 10 are going to lose their jobs so to me
that structural unemployment that we've not seen right a level before but hang on do you
really think that's plausible because there's two responses to that the first
thing is a healthy envir health healthy economic environment is about destroying jobs that's the essence of productivity
growth it's what we've been doing for 300 years since the Industrial Revolution the second thing is we've
been hearing this prediction for years every time there's been an innovation in the Computing industry it's going to
destroy jobs it's going to destroy jobs turns out people are pretty adaptable and human beings are pretty good we've
never had a tech we've never had a tech that can simultaneously destroy many
jobs across many Industries at the same time that's the difference right yeah I
I is it gonna do it though because listen we you know I've talked to attorneys about cat GPT and they're like
yeah it might be something I can use as an assistant it's not going to replace an attorney you're not going to hire chat gbt to argue not chat gbt but what
comes in five years or 10 years you know I think that's that's not destroying jobs all at once as you just said right
so that you just undermine your argument and and I think no there I way to think about it yeah potentially but there's an
all at once in in ter you know when we say all at once once I think when you look at the Industrial Revolution and
things like that that all at once turned into what 20 30 40 50 years and yeah and and slowly people
filled the gaps that were left behind with different types of jobs what AI does is actually disrupt that timeline
and and concatenates it or however you want to truncates it into you know a space of single digit years rather than
20 30 years kind of thing and society and governmental policy and fiscal
policy and and everything else it's not geared up to um to accept one to accept
it and two to move to counter it so if you have 300 million the thing is as
well is that 300 million is is a starting point because as these things get more intelligent and you you
essentially remove rungs of the career ladder in various Industries what you find is the ones that are left are
essentially going to be there purely to train the algorithm to get better so
you're left your your your knowledge and your experience will slowly be sucked into them into the machine as it were to
train it to get better um until to until the point is that it will you know let's
put this week Theo I hear you and I'm often the person on this show who is expressing
the most pessimistic Viewpoint this time amazingly I'm on the opposite side of the table and I'm like look look humans
can adapt people can learn these skills right now there is no AI That's going to replace anybody just to talk about
what's happening today you're right in the future there might be some super fantastic AI that does replace jobs but that is not the case there isn't a
single profession from any you know code writing and so forth what the AI generate today requires a human with
expertise to come in and double check now your point about knocking out rungs on the on the ladder the career ladder
that's a valid point right as a as a system starts to absorb more information and maybe one or two expert people keep
their jobs but fewer new people are hired into those professions but those new people are going to move into other
fields they're going to move into other kinds of jobs and I think the potential for AI to create new jobs is going to
exceed and actually not just create new jobs but confer superpowers on people because you'll have all that
intelligence at your disposal as a tool to use it's a new kind of job we'll have to have a new kind of skill set but
humans are pretty adaptable and we're very good at coming up with new needs 15 years ago nobody knew they needed a
Social Network 20 years ago nobody knew they needed a smartphone we're incredibly good at generating new needs
that we never knew human beings required so here I am being The Optimist for once Brett I love
it sitting in your chair for what I know I know I know but um did you I don't know if you've heard chath the what's
his family name yeahia he he's speaking about the challenge to VCS right now is
that you know you used to employ 20 to $30 million on a um you know a startup
um to to get the them get their labor force up to scratch so they could you
know get their minimum viable product and he's like with AI I need three or four people right so we we are already
starting to see investment cycles that are changing because of that um I personally think I have a slightly
different approach this I think climate is going to produce all the jobs we need I don't think it's AI is going to
produce new jobs I think the new jobs will be in climate mitigation but that's my my view I wrote I wrote a rather
tongue and cheek piece which was um when we have structural unemployment the uh
the the savior of a day will be the people who want to take us to Mars in which case you'll have indentured servitude to build new
colonies but then hopefully we'll get um you know new Martian economics you know
which well that's it yeah yeah and let's Maran economics are different than what we have today that's great the spindly
weaklings climb up or crawl off of the spaceship that they've been on for three years and they've been irradiated and
and they're going to be like gasping for air in a place that doesn't have any any just Technical Solutions you know like I
would go to Mars in a heartbeat you know I know Theo's probably with me as well I I would do two years on Mars that's a
oneye trip how would you come back oh boy this is a whole different episode that we're about
toar man it's been a great pleasure talking to you I really get a kick out of likewise thanks for doing it well we
certainly went full futurists which I love you know I love when we get sci-fi on the
podcast all right well Theo where can people find you on the web if they want to read about your stuff um yeah I've
got a medium blog at Theo it's called I've got a substack called theology I've kind of written some
pieces on on the on artificial intelligence um and I mainly annoy everybody on um Twitter and Linkedin
fabulous that's great br though man theology I love that that's that's cool you said that was a challenge yeah
that's fantastic Theo priest it's been great to have you on the futurist this week thanks for joining us and a big
round of thanks to the folks that provoke media that make this show possible including our engineer Kevin
hon who does a great job of making a sound intelligence and cutting out the stuff where we screw up and next up and
have a technical glitch and our producer Elizabeth thank you all very much for your help and support and thanks to our
audience for listening the people who've been listening to the show have been great the feedback has been positive the audience is growing we love that keep
sending your suggestions number one baby number one the number one futurist podcast in the world thank you all very
much and next week we will be back with yet another futurists on the futurist show and so I guess frett it's time for
us to do our classically fumbled outro here where I will see you in the
inut well that's it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope
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