Tim O'Reilly: "WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us" | Talks at Google
I. Assume. Since you're here, that. Most. Of you know, who, I am, but just for. A little bit of context setting I am gonna talk. A little bit about the. Background of my company, and why. That's relevant because, the book that I've written is. A combination. Of a memoir about my time in the technology, industry a. Business. Book and an economic, call to action on. The economics, how, was my thesis advisor. The. Book was it, was. Really. I. Don't. Really know that much about economics although, a couple of people who said well but your instincts are good but. How it, corrected, my instincts, in many many cases but, any errors, and the economics, portions are not Hal's responsibility. But, he definitely would, read a passage he, read multiple, times and he would say no you have to go read this paper oh you have to go read this paper oh you have to read go read this paper was a wonderful, education. And I, hope, to continue it as I go further down this path anyway, so I'm the founder and CEO of O'Reilly, Media, you. Know most of you probably maybe. First. Knew. Of us as, a publisher, of the iconic animal books this book now, I, think it's still in a sixth edition VI. And then the first edition was in 1985, it was one of the first books I ever published I, think it was in an edition of 100 copies it's. Gone on to sell probably a million copies since then it's still in print you, know however, many years later 32. Years later but. You know we continue, to and be a publisher, with you know here's the book that we did recently with Google on site reliability engineering. Another, book on. Hands. On machine learning with, scikit-learn and, tensorflow, you, know these are kind. Of the thing that a lot of people in the computer industry learned. Of us from it's now only about 20%, of our business, but. The thing I'm kind, of the proudest, of is the, role that I've had in spreading, big ideas, about. Where the industry is going and what it ought to do. So. Very early in the 90s my, company created the first commercial, website the. Site called the global network navigator was, sort of before Yahoo was the first web portal it was also the first. Advertising, supported site on the World Wide Web the internet, was still non-commercial. Needed a lot of activism, for. The. Commercial Internet and, also. For the open commercial, Internet in the very early days for, those of you who weren't around then the internet was a research network and I still remember a conversation I had with Steve wolf who, at the time was the NSF, overseer, National, Science Foundation, overseer of the. Internet and he said I, said, well here's what we're planning on doing we're gonna build, this website and it will have ads but the, thing that's different about the web is that people come to you so we're not gonna be sending out anything unless people ask for it so it's very different and, he. Said well you know the, Internet is about research, and education, and if you, guys are you know a research, and education I don't know who is so go for it it was a wonderful, moment anyway, later, I organized. The meeting where the term open-source software was it was widely adopted and promoted. It and particularly, told the story about it that was bigger than. The. Political, movement, about free software being against Microsoft by, bringing in the story of why the internet was also built on top of open-source software and that was probably my first experience. Of the. Power of ideas. To change people's, minds, you. Know I remember, when I first you, know I held this press conference at the end of this day that came to be called the open source summit and I had all these guys up on a stage and, people.
Who Nobody. Had ever heard of, most. Of them you know and. And the, story I told was so different you know which had been this story of free, software is this rebel, movement, that wants to bring down commercial, software, commercial, software was evil and I said hey you know if you guys have. You. Know are on the internet and you have a domain name ai you from the New York Times you from the Wall Street Journal, or whatever you. Know this, guy over here Paul vixie wrote the software and gave, it away so, that that domain name you, know can be recognized, oh if, you send email this guy Eric Alma wrote send mail the pro that routes, at that point about 70%, of all the email on the internet oh if you have a web sites probably Apache this guy brian behlendorf started. That so I kind of and it was interesting because I did about two weeks worth of interviews and in the beginning, what. The Internet is based on free software, it. Was this disbelief. And, it felt a little bit like you're trying to push. Yeah something really heavy and it doesn't move and then, it starts to move and within two weeks it was just the accepted, wisdom and, that. In. A, way is a backdrop, to the story of the book because I'm trying to change the accepted wisdom again, with, this book sorry, I did it again with web 2.0, which. Is really the story for, me what, came, back after the dot-com, bust what was the second, coming of the web and I, had come to the conclusion from, thinking about open source in a very different way than other people had that. That. There was something very different about, the companies that survived, and of, course this led me down the path that, we're really moving out of the world of. That. We knew in the PC era where software, was an artifact, to, where software was increasingly, a business, process those, were these vast cloud. Applications. That actually had people inside, of them and that, data was going to be the source of competitive advantage and that was the heart of what I talked about web 2.0 we. Also launched, something called the maker movement with, a magazine in 2004. Called make and maker. Fair I spent. A lot of time in the last, seven. Or eight years of talking about how government also needs to learn about platforms from, the technology, industry and most, recently I've been talking a lot in the same way about how to think differently about AI, and what I called the next economy so technology, and the future of work so. We also that, you know a big part of our business today of conferences, we just had last week the O'Reilly AI conference, this week in, New York this strata the business of data we. Doing a conference on Jupiter, we've, our original, very first conference started in 97, the O'Reilly open source software summit, we, run maker faire something. Called foo camp which Hal talked about which is an unconference, and. Then we, have a platform, of our own which we started in 2000. It's, called Safari was, originally an ebook platform, but it seemed increasingly a platform, is. 40,000. Plus ebooks, tens, of thousands of hours of video training live. Training, millions of customers and it's really a platform for knowledge exchange that's really the heart of our business we're about 20%, ebooks 30%, events and 50%.
This This, online learning platform. So. I spent, a lot of time thinking about platforms because, that really is the heart of my business and I think, that Google also obviously, is a platform, company but, I want to spend a lot of time I spent a lot of time in the book thinking, about digital. Platforms, and what they teach us about economies. So. I'm gonna come back to that so, the title of the book WTF. You. Know now. I actually used, this at the White House frontiers, conference, that I was really proud that I got the White House comms team to sign off on a talk called WTF. But. I and I did it by kind of saying well it stands for what's the future of course but, really the reason why I wanted to use the term WTF, is because. It's a term of astonishment. That. Can be the astonishment, of delight or the, astonishment, of dismay and. I, think that really encapsulates. The. You. Know state, of our dialogue about, technology. Today it's, this source, of enormous astonishment. And Wonder and it, is also a source of fear and I. Started. Worrying about this. Probably. Two or three years ago I started an, event called the next economy summit, because I was trying to get ahead of this issue how, do we think about technology in, the economy, how, do we get. Technologists. To think about it and to talk about it in a way that doesn't, make people afraid how. Do we get business, plans that. Are focused, on empowering, people and building. Wealth, for everyone, rather than simply well we're just going to disrupt you. Know we're gonna break things you, know we're gonna make ourselves, really. Really rich and we're not going to really worry about what happens to everybody else and that's how the rest of the world is starting to see Silicon, Valley and in. A lot of ways the book is an. Attempt to address that narrative head-on, and to change it and. To, change it by actually inspiring. Software. Developers, and entrepreneurs to, act differently, to talk differently, but also to persuade. Policymakers to, think and act differently so, I'm going to try to give you a few sampling. Of some of the ideas from the book maybe back to this WTF of amazement, or dismay. This, is the the world of technolon. You. Know that's a chart of life. Expectancy. You, know life expectancy. At Birth pretty much flat I mean there's a few really bad times, you. Can kind of see where it really dropped but, then suddenly this magical, thing happened, in the mid-1800s, when, it started to climb and then you see additional, countries sort of come on stream you know this is the modern world that we have every, reason to be so proud of you. Know that we and, you know there's a wonderful sight our world and data which, is really it's this incredible. Collection of. Graphs. And narratives about the way that technology is, making the world better I'm standing, in front of this sorry about that guys. So, I guess I'll be back over here. So. You, know but everyone is not you. Know equally happy we see all Bret's brexit, the rise of Trump and here's here's this WTF you. Know on the daily telegraph you, know. And. You, know the question is this is not the first time when we have had this, kind of upset, and worried about technology, this is a you, know an etching about the Luddite rebellion now one of the things I learned that many. Of you may not know is that Ned Ludd did not actually exist, he. Was not the leader of the Luddites he, was a mythical, figure that.
This Particular revolution. In 1811 1812, cited, he was somebody who apparently had smashed a loom 30 years before and. Went down his story and they kind of carried the banner of Ned Ludd, but, here's the point these guys were right to be afraid because the. Ensuing years were pretty bad you know and you think about the early years of the. Industrial. Revolution and. You. Know William Blake's description, of the dark satanic Mills. You, know this was not a good time but. You know those, Weaver's, could not imagine. The. Wealth of modern. Society, they, couldn't imagine, their descendants. Would you, know that this production, this mass production, of fabric, it, would produce you. Know a world in which their. Grandchildren. And great-grandchildren would. Have more clothing than the kings and queens of Europe did you, know at the turn of the 18th century, of, the 19th century rather you, know they couldn't imagine you. Know that their descent, would have you know fruit. In the middle of winter they couldn't imagine that, we would actually build skyscrapers. Half. A mile high that we dig a tunnel, you, know under the you. Know English channel to France that we'd go into space that we'd fly through the air all these things were amazing and they couldn't imagine that. Their. Descendants. Would find so. Much meaningful. Work bringing all these things to life and so, one of the questions I'm asking, in the face of today's, world. Of AI and. All. These new technologies that are being told again again are going to you know destroy, jobs, what is our failure, of imagination what, are we not able to imagine what world, are we not able to paint, for our grandchildren of the world to come and so. You, know one of the things that I I start. The book with is a little excursion into this idea of Fitness landscapes, now you know in evolutionary, biology this, idea that genes contribute, the survival, an organism, and you can think about this is kind of a landscape, of peaks, and valleys and, organisms. Evolve. Towards, the peaks which, are adapted to their environment, or they die out and so, there's this load of the concept of a local maximum, and, you, know a lot of what happens in society and companies. Get, comfortable, with this local maximum, and they. Don't know how to move on and often the only way to move off of it is actually to go backwards, you have to go down and that's why we have this cycle sometimes of, revolutions. Of you. Know companies, you, know fall apart anyway, but you, know Fitness, landscapes, are you, know dynamic, you know when, conditions are stable you can kind of just stay there but if things are changing. Not. Not so good and of course we have in. A radically, changing conditions you know climate change is a great example if you look the failure of many civilizations in, the past they were driven by climate change we may, face. A great deal of pressure on our fitness. Landscape, today. As a result of that and. Technology, also. Has a fitness landscape you, know you, know in my career I watched you know the fitness, landscape of the personal, computer you know the big data and AI world. That, you, know Google lives in the, smartphone, landscape. Dominated that, was just, a really broken. Open by Apple and now I was sort of a subject of fierce competition between Google and Apple and, you. Know what's really interesting and. When, you think about what.
Happened, Why was it hard for Microsoft, to get to the big data world well they had to much you know this is a perfect illustration of, the fitness landscape they had a business, model that really worked for them and, they. Fought you know there were people who were saying that we got to get with the Internet and they were kind of like no we have to preserve windows and that was their priority, and I think it's something we always have to, to. Think about that this, Don the dominant, companies, that, you know tend to be slow to adapt. So. You. Know the, the thing is that one. Of the problems is that those dominant, companies tend to extract, too much of the value from the ecosystem for themselves, Microsoft. Basically, put, other companies out of business they would come down to Silicon Valley meet with VCS and say you can't invest there because we're gonna do that. And and this is a real risk I think for Google as well you. Know it's really. I think a mistake to. Think about. Just. Value, for users you. Know because Google will, make a case what. We're doing this thing is better for our customers. But. You actually have to think about the whole ecosystem and, in particular you, have to think about the ecosystem of, developers, you, know the you know people you, know went to Linux and the World Wide Web because. There was no room left in the Microsoft, ecosystem so, they went somewhere they think they were gonna go make a lot of money over on the web they just went this is cool this is interesting and it's, free and open and, and, that sort of free and open was, what gave birth to the new Fitness landscape you know the small, mammals coming, out from the valleys, into this new fitness peak so, again it's always something, to worry about if you're as dominant, as Google is, is to think about you, know are we making, enough value, for these developers. Who are part of our ecosystem these, people who are creating, on top of our platform and, making it a rich stable, ecosystem, or are. We basically saying in a where you, know we have to do that for ourselves you know I had that experience many times with Microsoft, you know it's like oh that's a great idea, we have to do that sorry. So, in. Our our, political landscape we're, seeing this same thing, you. Know we've had this idea that, by making a small number of people very, very very wealthy it, would trickle down to the rest of society hasn't. Entirely worked that way and guess, what you. Know the, people are moving somewhere, else they're, saying we don't like that consensus. About how to run the world we're, gonna do it differently they may even be wrong and maybe it. No. In, my opinion not even in May but, you. Know. There's. A real, serious, risk that the conditions, that we, have you. Know that we Silicon, Valley have. Used to thrive are going to change radically because, of the political environment and so. You. Know one. Of the the key pieces of advice I, give in my book is is just to, remember that a successful, ecosystem, creates opportunity, for everyone and, and, this obviously was brought into the you know the political discourse by, thomas, piketty's book capital. In the 21st century where he really addressed, this question of inequality, and got everybody talking about it they've been other people you know Joe Stiglitz had written about the 99%. Versus, the 1% before. Piketty to come out but and that that almost caught but, you know you, know when pic Andy's book came out it was like everybody started, talking about it and so I decided. To take a, technological. Angle. On all this to kind of tell this story from the point of view of the tech industry because. A lot of people talking about it as economist. And I, was so in lot of ways the heart of the book is is a, series of stories about what the great technology platforms. Have to tell us about the future of business and the honor me and the, first is this point I've already made that platforms. Have to work for all their participants, not, just for the users or the platform owner, there's. Also the point that, platforms.
Today Are no longer just about the digital. Right. They're, meshed, in the, real world you know you think about uber. Or lyft, you, know this, is really, this system, you think about this huge. Algorithmic, system ensure, there are people at the endpoints, of all the touch points of Google you know people are uploading YouTube, videos, or they're clicking on links, or they're, submitting. Of creating webpages but, boy it becomes really, obvious. That. Human beings are as. This Shawn McMullen the science fiction author who our souls in the great machine you, know when you have these, cars. Dispatched. By algorithm, with drivers, you have this swarming marketplace where, people are, doing things in their in the real world you, know at the beck and call of algorithms, so so. You. Know we have to start thinking about, you. Know this interpenetration. Of the digital into all of our business processes into all of our world you. Know as as. We, effectively. Take the principles, that we've been practicing. In the purely, digital realm for, the. Last couple of decades and, start to see them show up everywhere, in the real world so it becomes even more important. And. The third key, point is. That, the fundamental. Function, of every technology is. That. It augments people, so they can do things that were previously impossible. You. Know we. Couldn't fly through the air and now we can and so. When, you think about you. Know what AI is going, to do there's, a strong. Narrative, that it's going to put people out of work and, instead. I think the narrative we, need to be seeking, out the narrative, of what will it let us do that we can't do today that, will be wonderful that will make us full. Of that WTF of delight and we. Have to tell that story powerfully. And we have to believe it and we have to build, products. And startups, that, deliver on that promise, so. You. Know and there is kind of this interesting thing that of course the WTF, of delight becomes banal, I still. Remember once. Landing. In Sydney Airport in Australia, and they, had this giant mural and I wish I could find the name of the photographer because, it's long gone now but it was thousands. Of people turned, out to, see the first airplane come to Australia, you know, and it was just this these faces, looking, up and wonder you know it's, been a voyage, of you know many months, you know for the many of you know people emigrate, and then it's like they're connected, to the world and, it's, like oh my god now you think about you, know the airlines oh my god you, know you, know so the WTF, of wonder actually later, became the WTF, of dismay we have to watch out for that but, the. You. Know that, that source, of wonder is so important but this idea of, augmentation. Let me kind of come back to uber. And lyft you. Know when you think about that, experience. There's, a couple things the first is this magical, experience, which goes away because you get used to it wow I can you, know I don't have to call a taxi, company and hope they show up I don't have to stand out on the street corner and wave, and know they're all full or there's nobody there I can, summon a car I get an estimate of when it's gonna be there and I walk out and it just comes magic. You know realizing. The capability. That was hidden, in our phones. To. Match, people in a real time matching marketplace, right, but also this. Is one of the things a lot of people don't understand, about uber, and lyft you know it's like taxi companies go well we have to have an app. Yeah. But we hate this idea of part-time. Drivers, who just you know show up and don't have licenses, and, guess what, all, the parts of that business model will work together, because.
It's Because, you have those part-time drivers, that you can have three-minute pickup times all. The time you don't run out of cabs right because they're harnessing, the marketplace, in. This new algorithmic, way and, the. Reason they can do that is because the drivers, are augmented. With this new cognitive, augmentation. Called Google. Maps there, are ways or, you know built now into into the app you know it's like people don't have to have the, knowledge of, the streets, and monuments, of London they. Can just turn on the app and it says turn right here. Right, and you, know the literally, the knowledge is a test where you are a human GPS you're like a mint at out of Frank Herbert's dune you know where you literally they give you two points in London and you have to recite the turn-by-turn to get from one to the other and you. Know now you don't have to do that so that that cognitive, augmentation. Also. Is going to make new, things possible, just like the steam shovel or the you, know steel girder or the steel beam in the physical, world, cognitive, augmentation, allows, people to do new things that, they couldn't do before so, I. Also. Talked a lot about the fact that these systems are algorithmic, systems at least today infused. With AI but these algorithmic, systems have a sort. Of a fitness function or an objective function and I want to talk about that in the context of the economy in a bit because, I think the, real real, significance, for society. The economy in the future of the human race in the algorithms, that we are building into. Our future I'm going to talk about that in a minute so there's some bunch, of my writing on the topic that's not in the book you can find out the site WTF, economy, calm as. Well as some content that's in the book anyway. Let. Me come back to this notion a platform, must create more value than it captures that's. Been kind. Of the heart of what we try to do it or Riley. You know we invited in our biggest competitors, into our platform when we launched it we continued, to think about how do we make money, for them as well as for us and. I think Google should and I've, loved what Cal has done with. The, Google economic, impact reports, because it's starting, to tell a story which should be told by every, business, in America every business in the world which is how, are we creating value, for other, people. For others, not just for ourselves all this financial reporting. That's just about wow look how well we're doing great. I go well how you know there are companies that are doing well by, making other people, do badly and we have to actually have a system-wide. Accounting, of what people are putting in and what they're taking out. In. The alternative. If you are a google-like, company. Where you are a systematic platform company is you become a regulated utility because, if people say wow, you are, not you. Know looking, after your ecosystem well, we'll look after it for you so I think that's, something you guys should be very worried about wait, I want to kind of come back I've talked about a lot of this already but this is something out, of the book this, notion of. What. I call a business model map a business. Model is the. Way that all the parts of a business work together to. Create customer, value and I. First, was introduced this concept by some consultants, called Dan and Meredith beam back in 2000, and they actually used, the example of Southwest, Airlines versus. Hub-and-spoke Airlines, and they kind of went through how all the parts of of. Southwest. Business. Actually make them very different, than the other airlines even though they're both all in the airline business you know so they don't forward. Baggage, they don't have a science seats this, actually, is. Different and, so Google and Facebook. Both, in the advertising, business but, you have very different parts of your business model so. For example. With. With Google, right. Somebody. Your customer, succeeds, when they come to Google get what they want and go away, right. So your success is aligned with people leaving Google coming and leaving Facebook. Success. Is aligned, with having, people come and stay and, that's, a huge difference in your business model and a huge lever if you, are competing with facebook for example because you have to say oh wow we have to find more. Reasons, to get, people to go away and. Not. To get people to come and stay with us because then you're plenty you're playing on on Facebook's. You. Know turf and as, Sun Tzu says attack, your enemy where he is strong and you're weak I mean where he is weak and you are strong so. Anyway back to this I tried, to draw a model. Of uber because it seemed to me to be, kind. Of a a kind. Of a template for what's starting to happen in the economy you know you have these companies that are platforms, they're not just sort of traditional, companies you, know they're replacing, ownership, with access, you.
Know And they've got this this marketplace. Managed. By an algorithm, you know with passengers, matching, up passengers, and drivers this is a bunch of things you know workers supplying their own cars independent, contractors, you, know that are really part of this. You. Know this story and you. Know this augmented, workers idea that we talked about magical, user, experience, so all of these things go together and one. Of the things we have to understand, this we think about technology, and the economy is what things go together in, our business model, what. Things, belong. And, what things fight against, it and so, for example at a rally one of the things that we realized. That made us able to transition, from being a publishing, company to. Being a conference. Company in an online learning company, it was that we realized we were we were really a company that was about connecting, people who knew something with people who wanted to learn it from them and so. We, were able to evolve, how. We did that because we really understood, that whereas a lot of our competitors, you. Know most, of them no longer really in the business very much they, just thought their job was to capture knowledge into books and put it on shelves, so. Anyway so, I. You. Know I spent some time really, trying to think. Through business, models and how they work and how they're changing in the age of the platform I've. Talked a little bit about this thick, marketplace, idea house. Student. Jonathan hall who's the chief economist, at uber turned me on to this book, Alvin Roth's who gets what and why, which. Is really about you. Know how do you make, a successful matching. Marketplace, which is at the heart of so many of the great platforms, today and, so. That kind of led me to this you know this path of thinking. About marketplaces, but then again I talked about this augmented in, a worker concept, but this is a really key part of it. And. That is really something I call the Ark of knowledge, you, know when we think about how do we communicate knowledge, we first you, know we we, spoke it to each other and then we wrote it down you know things like maps and and. You think about the first you, know iterations, of online, maps and they. Were kind of reproductions. Of printed. Maps just online which was kind of nice and then you got maps and directions and you go all the way up - automated, vehicles and you see that the knowledge disappears. Into a service, and that. Seems, to me to be a key, point. To remember when. You think about how we augmenting. Workers we're basically building these cognitive, augmentations. That. Will just disappear, in the services, where you don't necessarily need to know in. Advance things, you know this is already so true you know we were talking over lunch about how, oh yeah you know some. Technique how do you learn it you go to youtube and you watch the video and before long maybe we will be in the place like Trinity and the matrix where we can say I need to know how to fly a helicopter, you know remember she downloads, the knowledge you, know but, even, without that we're gonna have these Augmented devices, that capture. And share, human knowledge so, when I think about you. Know AI that's my starting point is that it's a tool for human, augmentation, it. Isn't, this radical, you know discontinuity. You know this machine from the future that's going to make humans obsolete, any. More than you, know machines. You know of the industrial, era were somehow. Gonna make humans, obsolete, yeah sure yeah we're not as strong probably. As most of our you. Know, even. If we work out a lot we're probably not as strong or as fit as someone, who worked every day on the farm or doing you, know print you know work I still remember going to Hawaii once, and you, know huffing and puffing up over some hill and it was like oh yeah the ancient. Hawaiians taking about 20 minutes to go up and over to the other you know waterfall, and took us two hours you know yeah. You know we're not you. Know as fit but we are more capable you, know if you've ever read Guns Germs of steel you know it opens through this wonderful, you, know passage, a Lee's question, this you, know guy in New, Guinea saying, you know you guys are so stupid, you. Know if I took you in the jungle you'd be dead in two weeks how come you have all the cargo yeah. And, you. Know and that is in fact the question of our civilization. You know it's like we are making you, know ourselves, smarter, stronger faster, better and, that. Should be how. We frame, and how we think about what we're doing with technologies. Not disrupt, is not destroy, it's not eliminate, it's empower it's lift up its make things possible. So, you. Know technology, is our superpower, you know and this is another one of the charts from you.
Know Our world and data of you. Know the number of people in, the world living in absolute poverty and you watch that incredibly. Steep decline that's wonderful, but, inequality. Is our kryptonite, and we. Happen you know this is the you know from the we are the 99%, story, we have to confront that we have to think about it as a particularly. As a society, but also as an industry. So. One. Of my interesting questions is, that. I try to explore in the book is what keeps us from creating, prosperity for, everyone and. Here's. The answer and, this is the, connected, taxi cab circa, 2005. You. Know it's like wow we had connected tax camp so what do we do we put a screen, in the back, where. People could look, up information where they can watch your hats, you. Know and we totally missed, you. Know even though actually Sunil Paul in 2000. Had written a series of patents about what would be possible if. You know you tried to connect you know cars with smartphones, and actually they weren't really even smartphones but with GPS, and phones it was just too early right. So, there was this sort of cognitive, filter. This, cognitive, blindness. You know your killer actually sort of framing blindness. Maybe the right way to say it where we framed the world in a particular way and we couldn't see what was possible, and I, think this is a critical, problem and I've watched it throughout my career you. Know when I in. 2000, I had to let this protest. Against, Jeff. Bezos his one-click, patent and we, went and we looked you know Jeff kind of worked, with me to try to you. Know turn. It around from, from PR point of view and one of the things we did was we we, started to be, funded a startup called bounty Quest which looked for prior art on you. Know one-click shopping and, we couldn't find it because. Basically it was sort of unthinkable, of the time people were afraid to put their credit cards online they had to shove the shopping cart metaphor, they kind of understood, the world it was very much like this connecting taxicab circa 2005. So. I. Reason. I tell you that story actually, under here's another one you know it's like I asked Tony Fadell why didn't, you know you. Guys do the connected, speaker and he says well can you imagine you. Know if if, people. Had thought, google is listening, to me you know somebody had to make that possible first, you. Know because there was just this you know because of Google's particular. You know position, in the market you, couldn't be the first mover, but, you still have to understand, that these cognitive shifts, do happen, where people believe that something else is possible but more than that I want to actually take that thinking, to.
The, Political, and the economic realm. And this is where I start to get out of my depths in the book and, but, but. This, is maybe it's just a thought experiment but maybe just maybe it's. Something. That's really worth thinking about and and, this is the beginning, of, actually. An argument that runs through, a central. Section of the book and it's. About sort. Of AI and algorithmic systems in their relationship, to human society and. I, asked the question you know what if strong AI bears. The same relationship. To today's narrow, AI as. Multicellular. Life does to it single-celled, forebears, now, right now we keep thinking that we're gonna create a strong, AI maybe. You know maybe it'll be 15. 20 years from now maybe 50, maybe it'll be a hundred but, it'll be like us you, know a single self-aware. Being and. You. Know I wonder, if instead, you. Know it's a collective being and, it turns out that that is what happened, in this prokaryotic. To eukaryotic. Cell transition. Because, it turns out that, this is thing that lynn, margulis in 1967. Actually was I think it was originally, in, again. A constant. And merit Kowski in, 2000. 1905. And, first proposed it but she picked it up at 67, and actually proved it over a you. Know a, lot. Of years of being ridiculed and pushed back up and it was this idea that. That. Multi. Cell organisms, actually incorporated. Bacteria, into them you, know so it turns out this. Later substantiated by genetic evidence the mitochondria. In. Our body are actually, bacteria, that came and, lived. Inside of us right. Same, thing with chloroplasts, in plants there they have totally, different genetic, material, than, the nucleus of the cell and so, in a similar way sort of thing what if we are, somehow. Like that with our computers and of. Course biological. Symbiosis, doesn't, start with that symbiogenesis that. Lynn margulis talked about there's also this increasing, knowledge of the microbiome, how we, are really a colony, organism, Edie Young and his wonderful book I contain multitudes says. All zoology, is really ecology, you, know you, know when we look at beetles and elephants sea urchins, and earthworms parents. And friends we see individuals, you. Know, driven. By a single brain and operating, with a single genome and this. Is a pleasant fiction you, know we're Legion you, know he says he'd, Walt Whitman I am large I contain multitudes so. Think, about this in humans too you know when we talk about. You. Know unsupervised. Learning as, the holy grail of AI I go yeah you know humans have some amount of unsupervised, learning we have a shit, ton of supervised. Learning you, know we learn a language from our parents, everything. We you know we know that makes us able to you know to do the kinds of things that we do here at Google we, were taught by somebody and then on top of that yes we're able to do unsupervised, learning but. We have a long way to go you. Know I think in in the supervised, learning of, this new organism, before we can kind of even expect, to see it start to do unsupervised, it's not like you start, necessarily. There but. You. Know so so thinking. About this as a metaphor, I started thinking about I've been really thinking about this for the last you. Know 10 15 years you know how increasingly. We're all all, of you humanity, is being woven into this new, global mind the super AI you know and we're seeing in things like fake. News kind of the equivalent of our neuroses, you know the equivalent of you. Know of bad. Ideas you, know they spread incredibly, quickly, now and opted, by you, know millions of people and then encoded, further, into, the systems, that we build you know so we're this really interesting phase.
Of Symbiosis and we have to come and understand. It and so. If. We think that our emergent, proto AIS are also compound. Being it's just like we are what. Would we do differently how, would we think about them and what do we know about them, today and. You. Know there's, a lot of fear of some kind of future, hostile, AI and, I go well if there is one we are already. Training, it we are already teaching it and what are we teaching it so. You, know when you think about this further you know we're seeing you know this compound, being you, know this we see the rise of specialized chips which actually you, know is actually a pretty interesting imitation. Of neuroscience, but here it is a great one you know here's one of the you, know the mitochondria inside. The. Google brain right. And. You. Know here's. This thing we've even defined. In our legal system starting. In 1888, we said that there's this thing called, a corporate person it's, really just this collective, organism, but you know that. Was the case called consolidated, silver mining versus. Pennsylvania, it's, like under the designation of, person there's no doubt that a private corporation is included in the Fourteenth Amendment such. Corporations. And merely associations. Of individuals, United, for special purpose right, so you, know special, purpose organism, you, know and guess what we now have these special purposes organisms, are increasingly, digital, increasingly. Quick, increasingly. Algorithmic. We're, making, these special purpose organisms. And. What are we asking them to do and I. Believe that one, of the things that. We have to come to grips with is that, in some ways these AIS, that are our children, are already. Ruling, human society, and, we. Have to ask ourselves what is the motivation, of this new species now this is obviously you, know kind of out there but think, about it you know how, does, Google, decide. What. It's. Gonna do well, we actually, we. Collectively, you know starting with Larry and Sergey and you. Know all the early, founders but people, like Al and all of you have actually put, thoughts into this you, know shared, Google, brain you've trained that you've taught it. You've taught it that.
It Should optimize, for relevance, and. This is this sort of master. Organizing. Objective, function of everything, that Google does whether it's in search, or advertising, it's like find the thing that people are looking for so, you've kind of built this special-purpose, organism. That. Has you, know these, these goals built into it baked into it and. Those goals actually, now exist, independently. Of any of the people who created it like again, they will, you know it will die just like a you, know you. Know a biological. Organism will die under certain conditions, but. It doesn't actually depend, on any. Individual, cells to, remain you know we've all been told that our bodies can completely. Recycle. The completely. Different cells. Every. Seven years I think it is and you. Know same thing all the people could cycle out and this organism, would continue, with, the same programming, with this continual, adapting. Program so think about that so Google. Relevance. Facebook. Engagement, and we, saw with Facebook and fake news how that can go wrong you. Know and it basically reminds. Me I guess of the, story of Mickey Mouse and the broomsticks in Fantasia you know I mean all of these systems we, tell them what to do when we set them going and. They. Do what we told them to do but we don't necessarily quite, understand, it and this is the story that comes out again again in Arabian, mythology, you know with genies and you, know you told, them, this. Is actually an illustration by Edmund Duloc from. The Thousand, and One Nights. He's. Sort of a rising of great power but, what's it gonna do it's. Gonna do what we told it but we maybe we didn't understand, and we didn't tell it quite right mark, thought that. By. Building. This social platform, that was focused on engagement, you, know he would build real community, and then he found instead, that we've created this monster which, he's now trying to bring back under, control you, know that's actually part of the experience, so. Many. Years ago a friend, of mine said, to me this is in the early days of Macintosh, programming, he said the art of debugging is figuring out what you really told your program to do than what you thought you told it to do and we, are right now engaged, in that process with, these these. New digital Jim that. We have created, we, are saying are, they doing what we meant, are, we do are they doing, you. Know what we told them to do but wasn't quite what we hashed and how, do we fix that that's what you do every day at Google you try to actually go, yes is it doing what we really meant it to do and now.
My Question is are we doing that same thing in our, broader society. You. Know because here's the, data that we see that. Is you. Know at the heart of this economic unease. That we're facing which. Is that this wonderful. Gift the WTF, of amazement is that, productivity. Has continued, to go up you, know if you look this is from. 1945. Up, through 2015. And it's pretty oh my god so it's, a graph that Ray Kurzweil, would be proud of it's just up and to, the right right and then you see this divergence, starting, around 1970s. Of. Real, family income somehow, that productivity, was not getting, through not being distributed to ordinary people now, it's a lot of reasons why that may have gone wrong is you know and people, like Hal study this and is. His his his, ilk this is what economists do. And. I'm not saying what I'm proposing, is the only cause but I think it is one of them and that, is this here's, another one of these a eyes these proto, a eyes you. Know that we tell it what to do and is, it really doing what we think and this is the equinox NY for data center you know which is so one of the hearts of the of our. Financial, trading, system, and. This. Is kind of the sky now of, the. Story, because. Ultimately. We. Told. These. That, our financial system, what its objective, function, should be, now. Milton Friedman, in 1970. Wrote, an article in. The New York Times called the social responsibility. Of business is to increase its profits the. Businesses, should not think about anything other than that and if. They did that they would pass along the profits to the shareholders, on the show those could make up their own mind this, is a perfectly, reasonable thesis. Just. Like some of the feces that you put into your code, but. When you build code and you watch it you actually, do, that debugging. Process you say did it do what I asked. It to do and we. Have to ask ourselves when. We said you. Know optimize, for, share price you. Know in particular you, know optimize, for profits and the profits this, proxy, is the share price of companies, optimized. For that not, for people oh yeah, if it makes sense you know outsource. The factories, if it makes sense gut, that community, you know because you. Know your, master Fitness, function the thing that we the wish that we expressed, the genie we built was. Make. My share price go up and. You. Know this is actually there, are a lot of people in the financial industry who are starting to take note of this I mean you know Larry.
Fink Who runs Blackrock, the largest asset manager in the world has been railing about stock buybacks. Warren. Buffett questioning them there's a number of books this one makers and takers is really good the golden. Passport, about. How. Harvard, Business School kind of wrecked the economy but, so this idea that the financial, markets you know which are really cement to support, the human economy have become this extractive. Platform. That. Basically says no no no gives, the money to us you, know and, we have to actually reverse that and that's, what I want to come back to, this story about, the. Little. Screen in the back of the taxi cab and, the failure of imagination. Because. It's very hard for us to imagine a, completely. Different world. You. Know so when we talk about tax reform most, like will push this rate up and that rate down you. Know that's, not how it happens the great revolutions. Are ones where you really, imagine the world anew and we're, good at that in technology, we think about that all the time and, we need to do it also in. The. World of politics, and the economy and we, have done that before, you know when the, founders, of this. Country, you. Know got, together and. We're, gonna try to build a new, country with a new set, of ideas, you. Know oh my god you know is that famous story about King George Weah when, George Washington stepped, down you. Know yeah. Yeah basically. Originally. You know when when he won the war you, know all the Europeans expected. That George Washington would become the king of America, and. And. George. The Third's reporter said yeah, and he went back to his farm and said that he, and King joy said if he has done that he is the greatest man of the world has ever seen it was this unthinkable thing. You, know so much more unthinkable. Than uber was to a taxi company or that. One click was through e-commerce site, it was amazing, you know we can do that you. Know so if we are entering, a world where AI can, do so much more of, the. Jobs that we do today you. Know we should not be content to say well we'll, just kind, of keep feeding, the current system you. Know I Corey. Dr. oh the science fiction writer had this great, statement. On social media recently where he said economists. Use, equations, to justify, the divine right of capital, the way that court astrologers, used the. Stars to justify, the Divine Right of Kings and, yeah, whether it's true or not it's true in the spiritual world yeah this, idea, that you know we basically justify. The system, as it is rather. Than imagining, the system as it could be and, I see this enormous, opportunity. To make a more prosperous world with, all of these technologies, we have you. Know so you know the. What makes me hopeful, is first. Of all that when we build these algorithmic, systems we can start to see ourselves better. By. Us encoded. And taken, to scale becomes, visible. You. Know when you. Know when we have been. Arresting. Blacks, at a much higher rate and not. Seeing, it it's just kind of in the woodwork. You, know we go well it's human bias you know sure but. Then all of a sudden when you're going wow we're baking it into the end of the algorithms, because we're using these training, data sets that are based on you, know decades of bias policing, we, can suddenly see, it we can fix it we can debug our society. You. Know so that's the first thing it's like this, whole engagement this, digitalization. Of our, world is going to help us understand. Our world and make it better and, the. Second, thing you know ai is going to help us to. Understand, more deeply what is human and it can create new kinds of beauty and, I love this this, statement, from the 37th, move of the second game it. Was fan, Hui talking. About he says it's, not a human move I've never seen a human play this move so, beautiful, you, know this idea that something, new that.
We Have not imagined, can be beautiful, that it can not be something to be afraid of it can be something wonderful that's, the world that I think we and the technology, industry should be committed to creating and. Finally. Just. Want to remember. That it isn't technology, that wants to eliminate jobs, my, friend Nick Hanauer said technology, is the solution to human problems we, won't run out of work until we run out of problems so. Like I think we all in our industry have to commit ourselves to solving. Human problems, make. It work make. The world a better place so. That's, the master design, pattern of technology, and really the message of the book you, know our, job, is to augment people, so they can do things that were previously impossible. Thanks. Boulton. Thanks so much for coming I'm really excited to read your book I was. Just curious you know as someone who's been in the publishing and content industry for the past 20 years why. When, you think. About it sort of like transmitting, these ideas about, the future why you chose to do, it in the form of a book when. There's like there's, lots of different tools out there today and and like so as, someone, who's thought a lot about this I'm just you know kind of curious like what like why do you choose to canonicalize it, in this is a really, good point actually you know probably the trigger was. That. I had. I've. Been running this event called the next economy summit, and. I, was trying to get on Michael, kraznys, you. Know show the local PBS show and I just was having a lot of trouble and then somebody who written a book that I really didn't respect sort of you, know appears on the show and I'm like damn you know it's like it's for. A certain kind, of intellectual. Discussion, it is still, you. Know the, little, entry, card you. Know like I couldn't get in this room without the Google entry card and you know writing the book gets, you discussed, by the policymakers, because, that's the thing you know all these people who should be deeply, involved in the digital because it's the center of our world yeah, you. Know I mean this is a book that I can send I can put in front of a policymaker have, them read. Have. The think tanks in DC talk. About I can give talks there because I wrote a book you, know and otherwise. I'm some. Weird, new media guy. And. Of course you've been a publisher, for 30 years yeah which is ironic, and actually, I didn't publish it myself I actually went to one of the traditional business publishing, you. Know companies because again it's sort of it's it's just this credentialing. Function. Set. Of hypotheses. But. One of them is they who are the actors have changed obviously we talk like bring big things like uber today this part is very small things do. You have any conclusions you draw with us whether innovation, is possible, as they can get quote more multicellular. At the, small stage garage day and drill startup stage or would you be thinking that as data gets a gravity of its own that we're going to see a return to bigness for its own sake and that counts potential for like startups. In this world well, I, do. Think first, of all the. Power of ideas is, profound, you. Know, even. You. Know if, a start-up, doesn't. Survive. It. Can actually place, a new idea, into the world and that, idea can be taken up and. You. Know that's there's, you, know why create more value than you capture is, sort, of part of my motto you know I just believe yes, you, know in the end we're all gonna, fail you. Know and I've, often quoted this wonderful poem of Rilke what we fight with is small, and when we win it makes us small what, we want is to be defeated decisively by, successively, greater beings he's talking about wrestling with the Angels and I think. That. So. Yes that may be a risk of a bigness but, I think actually if. You. You. Know follow the job of. Doing. Something, that needs doing you know. Like you, know one, of my one of the companies, I talked about the end of the book where I kind of try and give some hopefully, is a company zipline right so, here's a company that's, using drones and, on-demand and, they're not like we're gonna be the uber of dry cleaning they're. They're like you. Know we're. Gonna be the, uber of blood delivery, in in, a country where, people. You. Know we're the leading cause of death.
In Women is is postpartum, hemorrhage, you, know it's no developed, hospital infrastructure, there's. You. Know bad. Roads but. You can get a drone anywhere, in the country in, 20. Minutes you know and bang here it's like that's, astonishing, you, know it's like wow we, can solve a problem, that's. A real problem with this magical, technology and guess, what they're kind of not they're in there you, know in. That normal, competitive, landscape because. They've actually found. This green field of opportunity which is solving a real problem and. I. Think you, know if, it. And you. Know sure the me to space pretty crowded if you want to go yeah I can I make another social, network kind, of hard you know problem, but there's another piece to it to which I've been I had a debate, with Reed Hoffman recently, because he's got a book coming out on blitzscaling. And I, was like look Reed if you, know it's like you've got to raise lots of money because you have to grow faster than your competitors, and you know so on and so forth it's, still a winner-takes-all. Somebody's. Going to win and somebody's, going to lose and one, of the things I want to hear more is. Like. How, are these platforms. Enabling, an ecosystem, it, kind of goes back to this sort of platform thinking, you know and you look at. You. Know, how. Google has been an enabler how YouTube is an enabler you know there's people getting. Work from this and I, think one. Of the things that III think in a world of winner-takes-all, platforms. The platform's, themselves have to think more about how are we going to enable a network, of small business. You.