Have you ever wondered how far off we are from the movies that portray Artificial Intelligence?
Well A.I. is in our daily lives far more than we realize. Today’s guest is no stranger to A.I., having been the former Chief Business Officer of Google X. Mo Gawdat is the author of the international bestselling book Solve for Happy. After a long career in tech, Mo is the perfect person to get a peek behind the curtain and talk about A.I. and our future with it.
Mo has written a new book Scary Smart: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save Our World that we’re going to be discussing in-depth. In this episode, we dive deep into Artificial Intelligence, the ways A.I. will affect our future, what we need to know about A.I. as it plays a bigger role in society, and so much more!
I’m excited to have Mo back on the show! During his first visit, we talked about Solving for Happiness. If you’re interested in the future of artificial intelligence, then you’re going to love this episode!
Mo Gawdat is the former Chief Business Officer of Google X, and author of the international bestselling book Solve for Happy. He’s also the host of the popular podcast, Slo Mo: A Podcast with Mo Gawdat, and founder of One Billion Happy. After a long career in tech, Mo made happiness his primary topic of research, diving deeply into literature and conversing on the topic with some of the wisest people in the world.
In 2014, after the tragic loss of his son Ali, Mo poured his findings into his book, Solve for Happy. His mission to help one billion people become happier, #OneBillionHappy, attempts to honor Ali by spreading the message that happiness can be learned and shared. In 2019, Mo co-founded T0day, an ambitious project that aims to reinvent consumerism for the benefit of consumers, retailers, and our planet. In 2020, Mo launched his successful podcast, Slo Mo: A Podcast with Mo Gawdat, in which he conducts interviews that explore the profound questions and obstacles we all face in the pursuit of purpose in our lives.
A.I. is a fascinating topic, so let’s jump right in!
When we hear the term Artificial Intelligence or A.I., I think the majority of people automatically assume it means “robots” — which is usually what the movies show us. Before Mo shares his expertise with us, let’s make sure we all have a clear definition of A.I. As an example, Tesla has revealed their humanoid Tesla Robot, which is planned to help people perform their mundane daily tasks like shopping.
“The Tesla Bot appears to be a person that can move and walk, [but] it’s the software behind a Tesla bot where the intelligence resides. [We] don’t call it software anymore, it’s intelligence.” – Mo Gawdat
What most people don’t realize is that the real thinking about A.I. started in 1956 at the Dartmouth Workshop. Almost 60 years ago, A.I. was being theorized about. But nothing happened until the turn of the century when we discovered something called deep learning — which is now seen as a form of intelligence. Deep learning is multiple sets of algorithms that seek to develop multiple levels of capability. It allows the A.I. program to be aware and capable of operations simultaneously in the digital and the physical world, giving it control over everything with a conscious mind.
Mo witnessed this first hand while still at Google when they published a white paper based on how they “taught” machines to watch YouTube.
“We didn’t tell them what to look for on YouTube. We just told them to watch it and tell us what [they] found and what happened. Eventually, one of them sort of raised its hand and said, ‘I found something that appears so frequently on that thing of yours, YouTube.’ We said, ‘show us.’ There was a cat.” – Mo Gawdat
Once they confirmed with A.I. that this was indeed a cat, in next to no time you could find every cat on YouTube. That was the beginning of A.I.’s deep learning specifically with Google and YouTube.
Think about all the computations A.I. has to go through to understand what a cat looks like. Are you looking at a cat from its profile or from the top? Is it a kitten? Is it black or striped? Yet these machines were capable of finding all of them.
Deep learning is the turning point for A.I. because, with enough algorithms, the machine will continuously try to find something. So how quickly will A.I. influence our daily lives?
With limited knowledge of where A.I. exists in society, most of us might think that artificial intelligence is only happening in a lab somewhere because we can’t see it. However, that’s far from the truth, and A.I. is growing at a staggering rate.
“Records predict that A.I., the machines, will be smarter than humans as soon as 2029. This is eight years from today, and yet it is not spoken about. Intelligence is our superpower and there is going to be a more intelligent being of our own making introduced to our world by 2029.” – Mo Gawdat
It might sound crazy, but we’re not aware that machines are already smarter than we are in every single task we’ve ever assigned to them. The world champion of jeopardy is the machine Watson. And the world champion for chess is IBM Deep Blue after beating the then number one Chess Grandmaster, Russian Garry Kasparov. Even now, the most complex strategy game called Go, thought to be the last frontier for A.I., has been successfully overcome with AlphaGo. You can watch the incredible story of how this was achieved on YouTube’s documentary AlphaGo – The Movie.
Part of A.I’s rapid success is the ability to continuously use the lessons learned from losses based on the rules and then has the ability to play against itself and become smarter than a world champion in a matter of weeks.
So is this all doom and gloom or are there positives to look forward to from here?
A.I. like IBM’s Deep Blue is what’s called Narrow Artificial Intelligence because it masters one specific task. General Intelligence or AGI is the next phase of artificial intelligence and is what we can already see with the testing of self-driving cars.
“They’re already the smartest drivers on the planet [with less] likelihood to have accidents — much less than humans. They don’t text while they drive, they don’t put makeup on. They’re not tired. They can see hundreds of yards away.” – Mo Gawdat
It isn’t just that a self-driving car can see its full 360-degree surroundings, but it is also able to tap into other cameras on the road simultaneously. They can even recognize people crossing a street around blind corners. It’s not just about what A.I. has access to happening in real-time, it’s also able to connect instantly to everything on the internet and make decisions with far more information faster than we ever could.
“The beauty of that machine is it has unlimited memory, it can remember the whole of human history — [the machines’] knowledge is the knowledge of the internet. It has unlimited processing power issues.” – Mo Gawdat
If two people are battling to solve a problem, and it’s too complex, we fail. We can work at it simultaneously, but we can’t combine our knowledge to work together. Machines can connect and work together while having knowledge and awareness of the entire world instantaneously.
Mo believes that AGI is around the corner thanks to the law of accelerating returns. That means as more machines start to talk to each other, by 2045 the machines will be a billion times smarter than humans.
“The idea here is, yes, A.I. doesn’t appear to be breaking through yet because so far we may have developed 5% of what’s possible, but if it develops from 5% to 10% in 18 months, and then again from 10% to 20% in another 18 months, and then from 20% to 40% in 18 months, and then from 40% to 80% this shows that we are five to six doublings away.” – Mo Gawdat
This explains why we now have a phone in our hands today that is infinitely more powerful than the computer that put a man on the moon just 60 years ago.
So where does that leave us as humans?
Right now people from every walk of life are struggling with their own mental health battle. Will robots or artificial intelligence have an impact on our mental health going forward?
Since Mo has dedicated his life to understanding how happiness mixes with his background in A.I. — he is the perfect person to explore this in greater detail. Mo believes the answer sits somewhere between the two current extremes of spirituality hacking and dopamine rushes.
“It’s exactly in the middle — you don’t need too much dopamine [from] pleasure and fun and parties, and you don’t need all of that extreme fluffy spiritual hacking. [To] solve for happiness is very simple: events minus expectations.” – Mo Gawdat
Every moment in our life where we felt unhappy was a moment we had an expectation for a positive outcome. We compare our expectations of what life gave us to what we wanted life to give us — if life fell short of what we wanted, we became unhappy.
“Unhappiness happens by interpreting events and creating expectations that are unrealistic from life and comparing them and falling short. Now, can A.I. help us by actually digging deep into what triggers unhappiness? That’s what I’m trying to build, and I can promise you it’s unbelievable. If the machine can know what triggers my happiness and unhappiness, like a fitness band, it can start to tell me, ‘I just noticed that when you swipe on Instagram for six minutes you’re happy, [but] on minute seven you’re not.’ That kind of intelligence is tiny, but you can develop that so quickly into a global pandemic of happiness because basically, you can start to observe all of those trends, so yes of course it can help!” – Mo Gawdat
Wow! Imagine a future where instead of trying to articulate to a family member, a friend, or even a psychiatrist what makes you happy. A.I. will simply report what negatively affects you and what instills great joy — all while we go through our day unconsciously navigating the world and our relationships.
Mo gives us a great tip to use before we have this type of A.I. helping us. Currently, A.I. is being used on social media platforms to “suggest” videos or pictures or posts based on what we search for, like, comment on and share.
“Most interestingly, [you are] voting by your actions. I no longer ever [automatically] take [A.I.] recommendations ever again. I search for what I want, and I watch what I want. Then I switch off — I don’t want to support the idea of machines influencing my life.” – Mo Gawdat
It’s interesting to note that just as A.I. in the future may be programmed to help us feel better; we are already influencing A.I. online just by our behaviors and what we choose to do online. That’s a very simple idea to understand, even if it isn’t an easy thing to switch to immediately.
Wow, everyone — this interview was jam-packed with information and insights that I just couldn’t fit everything into this article. I highly recommend heading over here to listen to the whole interview to hear Mo’s wisdom. Also, Mo’s new book is Scary Smart: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save Our World goes into far greater detail on what we discussed today.
If you haven’t listened to the first interview I had with Mo about his work on his 10-year-in-the-making happiness formula, you should definitely check that out, too. You can find Mo either on his website or on social media. He’s most active on Instagram and LinkedIn. Definitely check him out and connect.
I want to acknowledge Mo for constantly seeking the truth and committing himself to solve some of life’s most challenging problems from happiness to artificial intelligence. I appreciate his desire to help humanity by making complex topics simpler.
I like to end off each episode by asking my guest what their definition of greatness is — Mo’s was:
“Greatness is not what I achieve — Greatness is how I achieve it. It’s how I play every single day.” – Mo Gawdat
Thank you so much for listening! I hope you enjoyed today’s episode and that it inspired you on your journey towards greatness. If it did, please make sure to spread the message of greatness and make an impact on someone’s life today. It would be great if you could also tag me, @lewishowes, and Mo, @mo_gawdat, on Instagram with a screenshot of this episode and your greatest takeaways from it.
If no one’s told you lately, I want to remind you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you matter. Now it’s time to go out there and do something great.
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