Embark on a mind-expanding voyage as we join forces with the illustrious Sid Mohasseb—entrepreneurial genius, philosopher, acclaimed author, and revered university professor. Our conversation peels back the layers of artificial intelligence, revealing its intimate weave into the fabric of our everyday lives, from the tunes we stream to the shows we binge. Sid's unique perspective on the synergy between human adaptability and the digital evolution illuminates strategies for small businesses to employ AI, debunking the myth of technology as a mere backdrop to the human narrative.
This episode is a treasure trove for the tech-savvy and the creatively inclined, showcasing how AI has revolutionized small businesses and the tech sector by equalizing the playing field. With Sid's guidance, we uncover how AI-driven tools enhance video production, invigorate content creation, and streamline data analysis—empowering the underdogs of the business world to punch above their weight. The conversation takes a turn towards the philosophical, marrying AI with human ingenuity, crafting a partnership destined to amplify human potential and nurture the seeds of innovation.
As we wrap up our enlightening session with Sid Mohasseb, we confront the elephant in the room: the influence of AI on employment and society. Instead of succumbing to fear, we seize the opportunity to redefine AI as an extension of human capability, a companion that amplifies rather than usurps. Sid bestows upon us his insights on personal growth, urging us to sculpt and be sculpted in the dynamic dance of self-improvement. For the entrepreneurial spirit and the perpetual learner, this episode is a clarion call to action, challenging you to grow with the relentless pace of technology that molds our shared future.
This episode was recorded through a StreamYard call on November 22, 2023. Read the blog article and show notes here: https://webdrie.net/ai-or-people-who-shapes-our-future-more-thoughts-from-entrepreneur-philosopher-sid-mohasseb
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We are exposed to AI every day the way that we listen to music, and Spotify has a lot of AI built into it. Netflix when we watch a movie there's lots and lots of stuff that's impacting us that we haven't really realized, because it's so embedded in our daily lives.Joeri:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories podcast. My name is Joeri Billast and I'm your podcast host, and today I'm so excited to be joined by Sid Mohasseb. Hi, Sid, how are you? Hello, Joeri, how are you? I'm good. There is a big time difference between us. So from its early evening, I had already quite a busy day today. Actually, I gave away some 3D augmented reality AR tokens for my podcast guests that had been on the show up until now, so that was an exciting launch today, I was. So, Sid probably people are now listening and say "ho is Sid? Guys? Sid, he does a lot of stuff and people call him a lot of stuff. So a lot of things. I would say a lot of titles, maybe is the better word. So Sid is an entrepreneur, philosopher, what most people call him, but he's also a founder. He's an investor, he's an innovator, he's a university professor, an author, and a problem finder Not a problem solver, but a problem finder, and featured in Times Fox, and Forbes. So, Sid, now of course, I'm intrigued. Yeah, maybe you can tell us a bit more about yourself and the things that you are working on or doing right now.Sid:
So, Joeri, as you mentioned, I do a lot of things, so that tells you about my mind and how I like to be involved in most of the things. That's how I function better, and I am now teaching at USC University of Southern California, both in the engineering school and in the business school. I teach strategy on one side and data analytics and use of AI, and all that on the engineering side. I do a lot of writing, as you mentioned. I have lots of articles, as you can see. Some of them are behind me, from Time Magazine to Newsweek and Hill and Independence and foreign policy, covering a lot of talks, a lot of things about AI, about economy, about entrepreneurship, and then the last piece of my life is essentially working with very early stage entrepreneurs, both as an investor and as a board member, and some companies. So usually my days are filled with lots of calls and I go from one type of a company to another company and their energy gets me excited and energized as well. As you mentioned, I have a couple of books to. Both of them are best sellers. One is more about entrepreneurship, called you Are Not them, which is about the building your entrepreneurship philosophy, and the other one is called the Caterpillar's Edge, which is how the world is changing. And actually somebody called me a couple of weeks ago and said I read your book a while back and I went to it again two weeks ago and I noticed that the last chapter of the book explains where we are now. And that book was written in 2017 about the AI. I call it a two-minute warning and what's coming and hey, the pushbacks we're going to see and why they're important or not important and so forth. So that's the other book about. It's about how we're going to. We're addicted to the sameness of operating in the same in some ways and that's evolving and the role of the data and how we should how we should adopt or embrace technology and, as the book title is indicative, it's about evolving always. That is going from a caterpillar butterfly.Joeri:
Interesting that you have written those books. I also have written myself some books and I also have been in business analytics before, so we have some points in common. But you are mentioning like use you foresee a bit of stuff that are happening now when it comes to AI, a lot of things are happening these days, even the last few days. Considering your perspective on the future of AI, if I may say it like that, what do you foresee as the next big milestone in AI development and how it might have an impact on or a shaping industries?Sid:
That's a good question. We could talk a lot about type of technologies and applications and things like that. Like the factory, 4.0 is an area that's been under. People have been working on it, particularly in Europe, but very little progress and so forth. But I think if I wanted to say what is the next big thing that is necessary for us to make a giant leap, it's more on us, the pupil side, that leap needs to happen as opposed to on the technology side. We've got quantum computing going, we've got all this stuff, we've got a lot of technology and capabilities, but I think we are beginning as human beings push against it because of our fears, because of our addictions to the sameness and because this is a massive change that we're facing ahead of us, and we could talk about the massive change and how I see it, but basically there is a, there's a transition that we have to mentally make and I think, if I wanted to say what should be the biggest change that is going to be pushing us leap forward is on the human side, not on the technology side.Joeri:
Okay, it's interesting all these AI developments and the big companies, the big names, they are really diving into AI and all these new technologies, but also you have those small businesses that are looking at, okay, all these AI evolutions, what do we need to do as being a small entrepreneur, can you, from your observations, give some advice, like what key strategies small companies or even small tech companies could do to fight against or battle against those big tech companies?Sid:
So I think we have to separate those and maybe two buckets. One is if there are small companies that are building technologies that are AI driven or there are small companies using AI tools to advance some other mission that they have. If you take the latter, which is companies that that are, let's say, they're in the trucking business, they have, they sell donuts. Whatever they do, they're not in the technology business, they're in other businesses, but they can use AI. There is significant opportunities for them because certain things that was very time consuming, very complicated, required a lot of efforts, is not a lot simpler. As an example, I don't know, making a video for a PR or a thing. You could now push the button, provide some text. Then you have a some sort of an avatar saying what you're doing. Okay, so this would have taken studios and the people and it is and it has in tens of thousands of dollars before now. You could do it literally in the minute, in two minutes, three minutes. You can use the chat, gpt stuff in terms of creating blogs and knowledgeable. You could use them in scripting. You can use them in getting I don't even interviews. I've seen people when they want to hire somebody and they may not necessarily be an expert in that field, to get themselves educated very quickly so that they could ask reasonable questions in an interview process. So there's tremendous amount of little things that the AI capabilities have provided us that could help them progress, or even some of these what they call citizen analytics or citizen analysts are, as opposed to data scientists or citizen scientists, whatever you want to call it. There's lots of capabilities because AI we all go back to robots and it is, but AI is a collection of machine learning capabilities that you learn from something and you apply something, that you make decisions, or you have the machines make some decisions in some cases. So all of those machine learning stuff are also there's there tools that that kind of enable you to do a lot of a lot of machine learning very easily. You don't need to be a super duper thing or you don't need to have lots of capabilities in processing and so forth. So from a small business perspective, they have been tooled up to be able to compete significantly better. Now a lot of big companies that have been using they've been using this stuff anyway. So this is a tilting towards small tech, if you would, or small business. The other side is, as I mentioned, the two sides. One is if they're using it for one purpose. The other is companies that are small tech, as you may put them. How do they develop new, new tools, new opportunities and new frontiers? A with the advent of cloud computing and the pricing that have come down significantly, I remember in the 2000s, when internet was just boomed up and everybody was expensive, you had to have servers and it is and that you had to at least raise $5,000,000,000 before you could even start doing this. That's not the case now. With the advent of the AI's and this open source information and capabilities and pythons of the world and all that, building tools is significantly a lot less complicated. The advantage of this small tech would be their ability to move fast, and the tools are there for them to move fast. The key, though, is to get. The advantage is to figure out you can people say it in different ways to figure out the real value proposition. To figure out what is missing in the market, to figure out what people are looking for. I call it the exchange, the exchange between what a customer wants versus what a company can give them, so that there is that exchange happens. There is, I'm gonna give you money for something. That something is not just features and functionalities, it's a collection of things. For example, you may buy an Apple iPhone. I may buy a Samsung. They functionally do the same thing, but I like one over the other because of the brand, because of the community, because of whatever you can get a. Your wife or your girlfriend could get a handbag that's $10 and it can fit all the stuff that she has. Or she could buy a Louis Vuitton at $3,000, they functionally do the same thing, but that exchange is different from customer to customer. The challenge of the tech guy, the small tech, is to figure out what that exchange is quickly and they can create that and not be not fall into the trap of building technology for the sake of technology. Yeah, the big companies they're bureaucratic systems and it takes time for them now to build. Do it. It's a big shift that they have to turn around and they'll figure out. They have more data that you ever have. They have more connections, they have more time, they have more access to figure out what the customers want and then they have already a relationship. The advantage here is not just that I have a big, better tech, because they've got lots of people that can hire anybody and pay them a lot of money to figure out the tech angle. If you're a smart tech person and you're building a company that's using AI of some certain another, I think you should go beyond the lip service of the technology is do is that and focus on what that exchanges, because that should be, that should be the place to focus, because that would be your competitive impact.Joeri:
Yeah, that makes total sense. Using AI for agility, to move faster, to battle against, because you have more power now with the AI engine, of course, helping you. On the other side, of course, there's a lot of data and so on also, but on the other side we have yeah, there is still. I think human creativity is also still important. And how can we balance all that with AI taking over many work functions? What new avenues for human creativity and purpose? We are a philosopher, new and vision emerging.Sid:
Here you put your finger in something that's near and dear to my heart. What we're missing is, you see, in a lot of places from writers to actors to car companies, to all over the place there's this push against the AI because we have a fear. We have a fear that it would take away our jobs Almost. I think 60, some percent of Americans when they did a survey, they are afraid of AI and 17% say I don't know enough but I'm afraid. So that's like almost 80%. Now, the thing to see is this difference between who we are and who we can be Meaning if we believe in humanity and if we believe in the creativity and the innovation ability of human beings, the same way that we evolved physically. When we discovered knife and then our teeth didn't need to have the sharper teeth, we didn't need to have certain things. When we discovered fire, we didn't need to eat a cow with our teeth in a raw form. When we did a lot of things over tens of thousands of years as human beings, we evolved first physically. I think a lot of things that we are pushing back is our comfort with the sameness of the past. That's we're saying. If I don't do this, what do? I do, and part of it is a fear or lack of confidence in humanity or ourselves that we are capable of doing a lot more. So what? So when the machines or the cars, the autonomous cars, are driving all over the place and you and I are driving and we're sitting in the backseat, what do we do? Just post stuff on Facebook? Is that our future? And is it the fact that, hey, we have governments pay $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 for us and we sit home and do nothing? The key is that if I have a calculator, I remember when I was going to school. That was when calculators were first invented. If you would, they wouldn't allow us to use a calculator because it was like, oh, this is horrible, this is terrible, but guess what? Now people are using much more complicated, much more capable computers and we have smarter people. We didn't become dumb for using a calculator. This AI thing is an extension for us to think faster, to access more. You and I can't read tens of thousands of books, we can't aggregate it, we can't consume it, and yet alone we can't do it in a matter of sub seconds. If I have access to all of that information, theoretically I should be able to do better, to create more, to innovate more. We have to shift our perspective from being worker bees and thinking that is what is, in life, the objective to triggering our ability to innovate and create more, with a broader sense, with more data, more information. Do I think this is going to happen in the next couple of years? No, but for us in an evolutionary path, I think our evolution, the next frontier is a mind shift and it's a focus on creativity and innovation as opposed to just physical evolution.Joeri:
It's interesting how AI people they don't see it yet, as you say, most of in the US and probably also in the rest of the world they say maybe AI is something which can threaten my job, or you should see it as something that can help. You like to give the example with a calculator, then internet came. Now at schools sometimes they say don't use AI. But no, they should use AI and the students and just help them and just deliver a better, I would say, solution or a better paper or whatever, thanks to AI. So my question to you is people that are now listening, if they want to use AI for their personal development or self-development or self-improvement, can you give some advice around that, how they can use AI tools for that?Sid:
Again, ai is a convoluted world, that is, it has become a generic word. That's convoluted based on who is listening, what their perspective is. So I'll give you an example. I was talking to a friend of mine. She is an engineer, so she's no dobbling, she's educated, she has a master's, she's an educated person and she was saying, oh, this AI thing is horrible, I can't trust it. It's horrible. I said why? And she said if you go to, if you go and try to see if the symptoms of a disease that you have, what are they and what you should take, it doesn't work. I said how are you doing that? I go to chat DPD and then I go to Google and Google it. Well, that's not AI. Yes, it has AI capabilities in it, but you can't ask a system that hasn't been trained on medical stuff and doesn't have cognitive capabilities and so forth, to do certain things that it shouldn't do. Part of it is our lack of understanding, depending on where we sit and how we look at it. The other part is money. So when the writers say, don't use this to write, don't use AI to write a new script, a new movie, a new book, a new whatever is twofold One, they think, hey, the system can duplicate what I have done and then create something else and actually write it much better than I have. So then I'm useless. If the usefulness of a writer or a thinker is limited to just typing stuff, then we have a bigger problem to deal with. But what they're really saying is where would I make money? That's the real. That's the real concern. How do I make a living, how do I make a living in different areas? And how do I make a living if I'm an actor, if I'm a worker at a factory, if I'm, if I'm? Now, the problem has been that in the recent particularly with the chat, gpt and the open AI recent activities, the impact is on knowledge workers, not on factory workers. Everybody thought AI is robotics and the factory workers are going to be out of a job and robots are going to be assembling things, and so this has shifted to knowledge workers. So this is not wait a minute, it's happening to us. To us. As long as it was happening to factory workers, it would increase productivity, it was okay. But now that it's happening to the rest of the people, it has become something that people are afraid of. One is to understand AI, that it's just a series of tools, like any other tool that you have. We're not necessarily you and I don't have the ability, the capacity, we're not there to solve our medical problems by chat GPT. That's, we're not there. Yes, someday in the future a doctor or somebody could input all the different symptoms that you and I have and probably the system can give you a better answer because it's got access to all the books and if you give them the right symptoms, it should. But would that eliminate a doctor? No, a doctor may become somebody, something different. They can think and begin to solve other diseases. That that's out there. So, first of all, in terms of how we can use it is compartmentalize it in proper ways. That is, hey, let's look at what AI is in the context of what AI is impacting you and I as in our daily life. Now, does a Siri or an Alexa? Do they have capabilities of AI? They do. Does a chat GPT? When I want to learn something, I can do something? Yeah, but we've got to be careful. Chat GPT hallucinates Meaning you can ask it something and it gives you the wrong answer in such a confident way that you think it's correct. But it's not correct. It's a fact. So we have to be careful about consuming stuff, so we're still, as individuals, learning how to deal with this and so forth and so on. We are exposed to AI every day. The way that we will listen to music and Spotify, it has a lot of AI built into it. Netflix, and when we watch a movie, there's lots and lots of stuff that's impacting us that we haven't really we don't really realize because it's so embedded in our daily life that we don't. The key thing is the biggest impact that I feel people feel is their jobs. So the question is okay, if you weren't doing this mechanical thing that some machine could do, it doesn't need your capabilities, your innovation, your ability. If you weren't doing this, what would you do? Because economically, this can be done cheaper, faster, better. But there's think of it this way the last McKinsey report about the implications of AI and automation was by 2030, I believe, which is about seven years from now. Six, seven years from now, you will have a $15 trillion impact on economy and productivity every year. $15 trillion I want to put that in context for you. That's the ten times the size of the GDP of Canada or Russia. That is just. That's 30 times bigger the size of GDP of Israel. It is equivalent almost equivalent to the size of 1.4 billion people working at China every year. The GDP of China is about $17 trillion, so $15 trillion is almost equal to 1.4 billion people working for an entire year. And this is a recurring number and this is by 2030, and it's going to get bigger and bigger, so the economic wave cannot be stopped. The question is you and I, each one of us where do we sit and how do we evolve? By learning how to use the AI, by incorporating it, by understanding it, by embracing it so that we can evolve with it as opposed to pushing back against it. Now, maybe people at my age at 60, some, and so forth will have a tougher time, but I think the new generation should be able to embrace this with a much more rigor, and this is what I'm saying. This is not a couple of years thing. This transition is going to take a few decades at a minimum for us to enter this new era that we believe in, and I think that our human capabilities are far more than sitting down and doing accounting work and adding this to this, and the machine can do that in seconds. Why should we do it? It's far more than sitting behind the car and sitting in traffic for hours. It's far more than sitting behind the conveyor belt and assembling things. We are much more capable and we just have to realize it, and I think that, again, going back to what we were talking about, is the biggest impediment to progress in terms of AI and our society.Joeri:
Well, see, I like the way that you are teaching a professor, the way that you can elaborate on all of those things, and I think this is really interesting for all listeners and you give a lot of inspiration. I think people are thinking you make their heads spin. They want to know more about everything that you are doing. If they want to connect with you, they want to follow you see it, they want to read about stuff that you are doing, maybe your books. Where would you like to send them?Sid:
So the best place is my last name, dot com, so it's mohazepcom, as you can see it on the screen mohasseb. com. My email is sid@mohasseb. com. So it's pretty simple. If you Google me, you can find me. See the articles On Medium. I have every article that I publish. Everywhere shows up on Medium, so you have hundreds of articles. You can find me on the Harvard Business Review site because I've got cases there. You can find me on Amazon, the Books area. You can find me and I would absolutely love to be found. You can talk. You could watch a couple of talks that I've done. I would encourage you folks if that's why they call me the philosopher, because I like to provoke people I think it's not motivating. Only you can motivate yourself. Nobody can motivate you. Motivating means to give you a reason to move, to do things. I can't do that. Only you can do that. I can only provoke you to think and get your system aligned. That you say hey, I see that Motivation works for a day or two or three days, but to provoke you to see life in a different way is what I like to claim to be trying. So I think if your folks, if your listeners, like to be provoked. I like to invite them to watch my most recent TED Talk. I have a couple called Are you the Art, the Artist or the Entrepreneur Correct? Which is about change, which is about entrepreneurship, which is about the need for us to evolve and our ability, inherent ability, all of us to do the exchange that I was talking about with each other, with situations. Because entrepreneurship, yuri, I define it a little bit different than most people. It's not about money, it's about and this is the definition, the original definition of the 1700s or so by some Frenchman, which was evolved a little bit later by an Irishman to be an entrepreneur with something this could be a product, this could be an idea, this could be his or her time and wants to exchange that with something of higher value, of something of higher value and higher value. You decide what's higher value as an individual, knowing that there's some risk, knowing that it may not be there. So, with that definition, I say Mother Teresa is an entrepreneur. She spent her time, her efforts, her genius in order to deal with poverty. Or Martin Luther King is an entrepreneur yes, we have Elon Musk was an entrepreneur too. He is using his genius and he's exchanging it with money, there's a different purpose and that exchange changes over time. So for Warren Buffett, who I believe I saw something today has donated about over $700 million to four charities just today, before Thanksgiving, so this exchange is probably then somebody else who doesn't do those kind of things. So we're all able to do that exchange. We all make a decision every day to make an exchange with our families, with our time, with our work, with everything that we do. So we are inherently an entrepreneur. We have the ability in every bit of our being, it's in our genes, it's everywhere. But the choices that we make drives us in what we exchange for what, and the belief that we are both the art and the artist. We are working on ourselves and we're never done, we're never perfect. So you are the Michelangelo that's creating you and once in a while you say this piece can be done a little better. And it's okay, it's perfectly fine. And I think we're back to what you were talking about earlier. Ai is just another paintbrush, another color, another thing in making our next better version.Joeri:
Right, I love that message. It is really motivating for people listening. Now, as always, there will be show notes. There will be a blog article, with the help of AI, of course, which is available on the website. All the links that you mentioned will be on there, so if people want to find out about your books, your TED Talks and so on. Thanks again, Sid, for being a guest on my show.Sid:
A pleasure to be with you and with your audience. I wish them well and please remember to evolve always. Yeah.Joeri:
Hey guys, Sid has brought some beautiful messages. Also inspiring it's in the action. Actually, everyone is an entrepreneur, but it depends what you are doing with the actions, with the ideas you have. You need to put them in action, and if you're now listening to this episode and you think, oh, this is inspiring, I need to send this to people around me, because I know other people that can really use the advice that Sid has given and the inspiration that he has shared. Please share that episode. If you're not yet subscribed to the Web3 CMO Stories Podcast, this is a really good moment to do this and, of course, I would like to see you back next time. Take care, Thank you.