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After a 30 year career in tech and serving as Chief Business Officer at Google [X], Google’s ‘moonshot factory’ of innovation, Mo has 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, motivated by the tragic loss of his son, Ali, Mo began pouring his findings into his international bestselling book, Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy. He’s also the host of the Slo Mo podcast which is a great listen.
Mo’s most recent book Scary Smart has just been released and both of these books are legitimate must-reads!
We discuss the reason that adversity and loss affect us, how to overcome negativity, techniques to reach emotional equilibrium, and the deep challenges of AI and ethics as you’ll read further on in Scary Smart.
Find Mo here at his website: https://mogawdat.com
Read Solve for Happy here: https://amzn.to/3vs6vA9
Read Scary Smart here: https://amzn.to/3B33p6G
Check out the Slo Mo podcast here: https://www.mogawdat.com/podcast
Transcript powered by Happy Scribe
Hello, folks. And welcome to the DiscoPosse podcast.
My name is Eric Wright. I’m going to be your host.
And we’ve got an amazing and compelling conversation with bestselling author, Mo Gawdat. I’ll go into more about out Mo in a moment because this is something that you’ve really got to enjoy. The work that he’s done. I’ve actually read his books. And it really said fantastic. So before we jump in, I do want to make sure I give a shout out. And thanks to the folks that make this amazing show happen because of the folks over at Veeam software who make sure that you’ve got everything you need for your data protection needs.
Boy, we’ve just had a lot of great stuff. KubeCon just happened in LA, and they are leading the charge as far as Cloud-Native data protection with their cast and platform. Tons of great stuff. So if you want to find out about everything you need for your data prediction needs, whether it’s On-premises, in the Cloud, Cloud-Native, you name it, head on over to vee.am/DiscoPosse. And you’ll be in great shape because they’ll get you hooked up. So go do that. Go to vee.am/DiscoPosse.
Now, of course, speaking of protection, not only do you need to protect your data, backing that thing up and be able to restore it on top of that, what about your data in transit in flight, especially when you’re moving around and you’re going to places, you’re going to Wi-Fi spots. The best thing you can do is make sure you protect your data by using ExpressVPN. I say this because I use it myself. It’s a handy tool. Number one protects your data wherever you’re at, because there’s a lot of bad things going on out there a lot of bad people going on out there.
On top of that, it’s a fantastic testing tool for web platforms if you’re testing latency from various locations. So it’s a real dual mode capability. So if you want to check that out, I highly recommend it. You can shoot on over to tryexpressvpn.com/DiscoPosse.
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All right. This is Mo Gawdat. He’s a CEO of a fresh new startup. He’s a best selling author of Solve for Happy and Scary Smart. He’s the former chief business officer at Google. He’s got a fantastic voice, a fantastic soul, and he bares both of them for us in this story. Just a great show. Enjoy.
Hi. My name is Mogad. I’m the best selling author of Solve for Happy, of the upcoming books Scary Smart, The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save the World. I’m the host of the Slo Mo podcast. The founder of onebillionhappy.com. The former chief business officer of Google X and currently the CEO of a new promising startup called Today. And I’m here on the DiscoPosse Podcast.
So Mo Gawdat, thank you very much for joining. This is an honor and a pleasure to know that I’m going to share time with you today. You’ve produced an incredible amount of content that I found very meaningful and very impactful in the things that you do in your entrepreneurial ventures. You aim for incredible strong goals, big changes, meaningfully impact, and it’s proven itself out. But you’ve also talked about in some of your obviously your written work and what inspires a lot of what you do, the impact of adversity and challenge.
We are going to talk about a lot of things, but for folks that are brand new to you, Mo, if you don’t mind giving a brief introduction, we’ll talk about Solve for Happy, your upcoming book, which is incredible. So congratulations in advance for what will be inevitably another fantastic book that you’re bringing to the world. And we’ll talk about a lot of things, your entrepreneurial adventures. I could spend an hour on each one of them, which is amazing.
Life and happiness, business and entrepreneurship. Eric, thank you so much. It’s been an honor and it took us time to arrange this, and I’m really grateful for the time. I have two lives, literally two parallel lives for the last seven or eight years, I have been a technologist, a geek if you want. And I was a business executive for quite a bit of my life. I started my life at IBM, then moved to Microsoft, then spent twelve years at Google at the time where those companies truly were changing the world.
At Google, I started as vice President of emerging markets, opened half of Google’s businesses worldwide, which meant that I also launched Google products in more than 100 languages around the world. And then I moved to become the chief business officer of Google X, which is probably the best job on the planet. Maybe God, I think God would bid for that job as well. It was an amazing honor to work with some of the smartest humans on the planet and really work on big moonshots. If you want that’s half of my life, I still continue.
Today. I have two startups running in parallel, one of which I’m the CEO. The other is I’m just the co founder, so CEO and one co founder of the other. And one of them is about reinventing consumerism in a way that’s favorable for the planet if you want. And the other is about happiness, actually applying artificial intelligence to helping us become happier. So that’s half of my life, the other half of my life is basically an author and a speaker, and I don’t like the word teacher, but as much as I can spreading the message of happiness, I published Solve for Happy, which was my first book in 2017.
It published in 31 languages, became an international bestseller almost in all of them. And then from then onwards I started my foundation, One Billion Happy, which is aiming to spread happiness to a billion people around the world. Part of that effort is The Happiness app, which is coming out at the end of the year, but also part of it is my podcast Slo Mo, which I believe is a very effective vehicle in terms of getting the wisdom of my best friends, really. My wisest friends are hosted on the podcast to just speak about topics which require us to slow down and reflect on our life.
So the name Slo Mo is basically the fast moving executive that I have been in this phase of my life, trying to find time to reflect and find what really matters in life. I think these are the two sides of my life. Put them together in whichever configuration, and you get a different day every day. That’s right.
So I think the ideal place to frame from to find happy.
That’s an engineers podcast. Hello. I tell people that they don’t get it. When I go to those events that are about the whole idea of well being, I go like, define, define what’s the problem statement? What is the definition? Can we start from there? When I started my work, I couldn’t find a definition. As a matter of fact, if you search the dictionary, you’ll find very varying meanings. I basically worked to identify happiness as an engineer. So in my late 20s, I was clinically depressed. I tried to find my way out of it, and I couldn’t because I actually didn’t understand what I was looking for.
And happiness, in my view, is highly definable by an equation, and the equation is very straightforward. You’re not happy or unhappy in any specific moment in your life or any specific event in your life. You’re happy or unhappy. If life seems to be going your way. And so every moment of your life, you compare the event of life or at least your perception of the current event of life to your hopes and wishes and expectations of how life should be. And if life meets your expectations, you’re happy.
If life misses your expectations, you’re unhappy. And what that means is that happiness is equal to or greater than the difference between the events of your life and your expectations of how life should be. You run that equation on this current conversation, you may look at the shadow behind me and say the lighting is not perfect and take that as an event that misses your expectation for a quality podcast like yours, and that would make you unhappy. Or you could listen to my voice and say, “Good voice for a podcast”, I think this might actually register well with my audiences.
That’s what I expect my guests to sound like, so it would make you happy. So if that’s the case, then happiness is defined unlike what the modern world is trying to convince us. Happiness is defined as those moments where you feel the calm and peacefulness of being okay with life as it is very important definition because most of the modern world tries to define a different emotion and they try to mix it up with happiness. They try to define something like fun or excitement or elation or other pleasure or other feelings, and they try to mix that with happiness.
All of those are actually not happiness. They are more a state of escape if you want. They’re more, as I mentioned them, they are fun, their pleasure, their elation excitement and so on. And those are different than happiness. Those are moments when we are engaging our physical form in enough activities or pleasure or reward so that your brain stops solving the happiness equation. And so you think you’re happy. But what you’re actually doing is you’re not thinking about your problems.
It really brings up the interesting thing where we often tie accomplishments to happiness. What’s the real risk behind this unfortunate tendency to do just that?
The best differentiation between the two so that you can always differentiate whether it’s accomplishment or other symptoms is dopamine and serotonin. Our biology works in interesting ways that we have different hormones that are secreted to elicit certain responses or motivate us to do certain actions when we are happy, which again, life meets my expectation. I’m okay with this moment. I wouldn’t mind if this moment lasted forever. That basically means I’m okay with this, right? When you are in that state, your body is flooded with serotonin. Serotonin is a calmer.
It’s a hormone that basically translates exactly to what the happiness equations is. It basically means stay as you are. We don’t need to change anything. This is good. This is okay. This meets my expectations. I can now rest. I can close my eyes. I can reflect. I can digest my food, I can rebuild my muscles, which is a very important physiological state that is very important for our survival is to get that time to restore. And that is enabled by serotonin. And serotonin is only secreted in those moments of calm.
Every other mix up if you want, including feeling, achievement and reward is a moment that is associated with dopamine. And sadly, in the happiness world, sometimes people call dopamine a happiness hormone. It’s not dopamine is an excitatory. It’s a reward hormone. It is the hormone your body uses to tell you that even though what you’re doing right now is not directly related to your survival, I want you to do more of it. Sex is a very good example of that. If you don’t have sex, you’re not going to die.
I mean, maybe some of us will, but most of us won’t, right? But the truth is, your body is encouraging you to have more of it because it’s important for the survival of the species. Now, with that in mind, you would notice that achievement falls at the center of the dopamine Arena when you feel rewarded, because now you’re on stage and people are clapping for you or that your manager promoted you or whatever you get that rush of dopamine in you saying, oh, my God, that feels amazing.
Let’s keep striving in life to get more of that. But the truth is, like all other activities associated with dopamine, dopamine wears out very quickly. So you basically run out of it the minute the event is over and then you strive for more. And this is why when you achieve, all of us are aware of that, interesting loop you achieve. You’ve been waiting for that promotion for two years, and then you get it and you run to your girlfriend or boyfriend and say, I made it, and then you’re happy for a day, and then you’re setting your next promotion goal and upset for the next two and a half to three years.
Right? Why? Because you need that next shot of dopamine and that next shot of dopamine is not going to come until you get another jolt of fun, of a party of pleasure and so on and so forth. This is the reason why you may end up at the end of the week feeling tired or that you had a difficult week. You rush to a party pre-covered and you drink a couple of drinks and you dance a little bit and you feel amazing as if all of life is okay.
And then you wake up in the morning and you’re even more depressed. So you need a bigger shot of dopamine. So you either are looking for another party or going to the gym and so on and so forth. So achievement doesn’t work at all. As a matter of fact, achievement, if you ask me, is probably the biggest myth of the Industrial Revolution, not because we’re not supposed to achieve. As a matter of fact, we are here on this planet to achieve and to help and to serve and to make a difference.
But the way we define achievement is probably the biggest drug that’s ever been sold to us. And achievement, if you look at my current mission, 1 billion happy, my absolute dream is that by the end of my life, I will have achieved got as close as I can to spreading a message of happiness to a billion people, lost all the money that I made in Google and every other place and got completely forgotten. Okay. And if you tell me that this is not a major achievement, that’s probably, in my view, the biggest achievement ever.
It doesn’t buy Ferrari’s, it doesn’t really make me dress in Armani suits and impress the girls. But that is actually an achievement that’s not associated with dopamine. As a matter of fact, it’s associated a lot more with hormones around love and connection and compassion and really being part of the big being, the big all of us. Which is again, it’s not addictive like dopamine is. I think the idea is we’re looking for connection, we’re looking for love, we’re looking for calm, we’re looking for peacefulness contentment and so on.
These are the lasting feelings. And then you can add dopamine on top of them. And when you do, you’re in a very good place. If you’re just chasing dopamine all the time, it’s going to be a very long marathon.
Sort of. Further the analogy, it’s effectively the difference between sex and intimacy. While intimacy may involve sex, it doesn’t have to. Sex is very much about sort of very strong, obviously dopamine strong event, but then long ways without anything versus intimacy, something that can be continuously experienced or experienced in a much longer phase.
Beautiful definition. Actually never thought of it this way, but it’s definitely spot on. Yeah.
All right. Achievement unlocked. I’ve made Mo say something I said was good. I’m in good shape here. Now that’s my dopamine yet for the day. Here’s the interesting thing as well. And I’ve often described my approach to this is I’ll say I follow the Stoics in the sense that I don’t want to hold claim to the positive because it artificially elevates that normal. That achievement to that dopamine hit, so to speak. And then I’m already pre aware that when I achieve this high, that immediately I enter into a trough, I will have to.
So I don’t want these big waves. What I look is much more to sort of tighten the curve of understanding that an achievement may be good, but I want to lessen the impact of the feeling so that I can, conversely, lessen the negative impact and understand that certain things that are out of my control must be accepted and just dealt with.
I think both sides. Yes, absolutely.
If I want responsibility for the highs, I must take responsibility for the lows and to my personal thing. Look, I believe it’s not perfect at all because I struggle with it continuously. I think we all would. But even the greatest therapists in the world have therapists because no one is good all the time.
I’m totally with you. I mean, sometimes when people ask me the definition of wisdom, part of the definition of wisdom is to be unimpressed by a lot of shit, right? It’s so interesting as you go through life, especially if you’ve followed the path like mine, where there was a point in my life. And I apologize. I’m assure you’re not that person anymore, but there was a point in my life where I had 16 cars in my garage. Right. And now I wear four dollar T shirts, and I promise you, I’m really not impressed by the cars I see in the street at all.
I look at them and I go like, yeah, I know they look sexier, but on the inside they’re all the same when you sit in a car. All you really do is you look on the street outside, who cares what car you’re in unless you’re feeding your ego. I think the other side, of course, is to realize that it wouldn’t always be easy and pleasant, that life is bound like a video game to come with some challenges. Otherwise it will be boring like hell. And these are the moments where we learn.
So the stoic approach is both ways. One way is to really not be impressed by stuff that doesn’t really deserve you being so easily pleasable. And the other side is when it’s tough, you see it for what it is just another part of the video game.
And I think it maps as well to how you behave in your day to day, things you do and how you interact with people. And I often describe the ideal personality, especially in the startup, because I’ve obviously been exposed to that a lot. And you would know this as well is that anybody in that kind of an environment, I describe it as never above it, never below it. Any tasks that you need to do, you’re perfectly willing to share. One of my favorite books, in fact, was Legacy by James Kerr, and he talks about the New Zealand All Blacks, and their concept was that it was one of the chapters called Sweeping the Sheds.
And the Star Players, after winning a game and scoring incredible goals, they come in and then all of the junior players go off to dinner and the winning goal player, the winning goal creators stay and sweep up the shed and clean everything up.
Here is this reporter saying, wait, this is completely backwards. It doesn’t make sense to me. Why aren’t you the ones being celebrated? They said because we’re here because we’re a team and they’re the ones that allowed us to have that opportunity to score those goals. They should be celebrated. And then we will celebrate together.
I love that. I think that’s sadly, a big part of what we miss in our modern world today. That idea that acknowledgement of the oneness, the team call it the team of all of us, I think is the biggest missing block in our humanity today. And I wish more people would acknowledge that.
I sort of joke with you. I said, there’s no, I in team. I said, well, there is one in a keep, and I’m French, so I’m allowed to be here. Now the interesting thing, too, when we talk about Solve for Happy. And I’ve heard you discussed this before, so I want to tap into this. There’s a concern with a lot of people. When we deal with something systematically or in a formulaic way, they really feel that it’s like taking away from it. But I liken it to what Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky opened up to the world with the idea of behavioral economics in that they were able to work backwards against experiential things and then map formulaic approaches and then begin to understand the science behind it.
There is people. There’s a human aspect always in that way. When we say Solve for Happy, a lot of people would say, oh boy, here it goes again. Here’s somebody from Google trying to figure me out. Right.
So yes and no, I mean, it is very unusual to speak about topics like happiness from an algorithmic point of view and a scientific point of view. In Solve for Happy, for example, I discuss topics of spirituality and topics of very complex love, death, the grand design, as I call it, from the point of view of theory of relativity, quantum physics and cosmology. Right. And it’s actually really complicated because it’s unaccepted by science to discuss some of the non measurable things that are not observed as per the scientific method if you want, but you can actually use what you can observe to deduce what is possibly what you don’t observe is going to look like, which is similar to how we try to imagine how it would be like behind the horizon of singularity of a black hole.
Yes, it’s unobserved inside the black hole, but we can detect that perhaps there is something that we can detect by observing theory of relativity, along with quantum physics and cosmology to talk about the singularity, the horizon, the event horizon of death, for example, now that I think has found popularity with a lot of people because sadly, our modern world is much more left brain than masculine. It’s thinking than our actual reality is supposed to be. But having said that, there’s nothing wrong with you going to driving school to be told exactly how a car operates and what the rules of the road are and how you can drive until you’re qualified to drive, and then it becomes second nature.
Solve for Happy is entirely about that. It basically is, I call it a user manual in many ways, it’s written like a user manual. Okay. And we techies. We love that. We love to understand. The truth is, there hasn’t been a user manual on the topic for a long time, especially for the logical ones of us, and I wrote it for me, really, because out there there were lots of amazing gems of spiritual and psychology books, but none for the logical process oriented or data science oriented reader.
And the idea here is the following. If something follows an equation, then it is repeatable and predictable. And if it is repeatable and predictable, then certain actions and behavior will trigger certain outcomes. Now when you practice those, you’ll find that they are true. Happiness is events minus expectations. Let’s apply that to any moment you felt happy. You feel happy when your children are okay. That’s our hope and expectation from life. When they’re okay. We feel happy. We feel happy in nature. Yes, of course, because nobody criticizes nature and say it should change.
You never sit in front of the ocean and say, I like the view, but can someone mute the sound? We look at it and we say it is as it is. It’s chaotic and we love it, right? When you start to think of it this way, you realize that certain behaviors will always trigger the same outcomes. And from then onwards you go into neuroscience and psychology. You use neuroplasticity to develop habits, and when you develop those habits, suddenly happiness becomes a second nature. And I don’t say this to brag, but I say this to encourage people.
I mean, if I am ambitious enough to try and bring the message of happiness to a billion people, which I know by definition I never will. But it’s a nice ambition to have, then I need to be sort of an Olympic champion of happiness. And believe it or not, I’m not doing that bad at all in 2020, which was a very stressful year for quite a few people. I had one instance where I felt unhappy for 4 hours, one instance where I felt unhappy for a day, and then for the rest of the year, my average time of bounce back from unhappiness to happiness is 7 seconds. Right.
Now, and I don’t say that to brag. I don’t say that to brag at all. There is a flowchart and I follow the flowchart verbatim every time I feel negative and the flowchart is so effective that you can literally, within 7 seconds, weed out 99.99% of the reasons that make us unhappy. Now, when you think about it this way, you realize that it’s actually not bad at all to go to driving school. Okay. It’s important to know what it takes to drive properly and then start driving.
I guess this is the other thing as well, sort of to carry forward the problem with humans is humans, right? Like understanding humans, we have this a real sort of dichotomy that the one thing we fear is losing control. And at the same time we fear being controlled. It’s this real sort of tug of war that in the same way the ability to accept the lack of control is such a freeing experience. And again, sort of pulling from the Stoics. That’s the idea. There are certain things that are without the ability to be controlled, and so they must be accepted.
And you then deal with the how you will accept it and then the behavior you have as a react. It’s your reaction to it that’s as important as the experiencing of the event.
Totally. Absolutely. In the flow chart of happiness. This is what I call the Jada master level of happiness, because sometimes unhappiness comes due to events that are outside our control completely. I mean, losing a child is outside your control. There’s nothing you can do to bring him back and you can hit your head against the wall for 27 years. It’s not going to change your tick. Right. And how do you handle those events? Can you actually surrender to the flow of life? Can you accept the new baseline of your life so that’s actually losing control?
And then can you grasp, can you grab that control again and tell yourself, what can I do now? I can’t bring him back. But is there anything I can do to make my life or the life of others better? Maybe I should do that. Right.
And that flip flop, if you want, between letting go of what you can’t control and actually doubling down on what matters really suddenly becomes, I would say again, a sign of wisdom. A sign of wisdom is not to waste your life on something that’s not going to gain you anything at all or make your life better. And in fact, it’s even more stupid to waste your life on something that’s going to torture you and make you feel unhappy or it delivers nothing. Now, when I say that to people, most people go like, what are you talking about?
You make it look like we can do all of those things. Yes, you do them all the time. And that’s what shocks me. And what shocks me is you can have a problem with your partner, an argument in the morning, and for 25 minutes, you’re thinking about that argument and beating yourself up about it. And then your boss calls and your boss goes, like, “Where’s the report I asked for yesterday?” And you go like, oh, sorry, boss. I will send it to you in five minutes and you simply tell your brain, ‘Okay, brain that’s it, no thinking about my partner for now’.
Can we just get the report done? And what does your brain do? Your brain goes like, ‘Sure, sir. Sure, ma’am’. I’m going to do this for you. It’s exactly what you asked me to do. I will do it every time. No one has ever told her brain to raise his or her left hand. And the brain decided, no, I’ll raise the right. I don’t like that. Your brain does what you tell it to do. But when it comes to making ourselves feel miserable, for some reason, we let it linger.
It’s like the Netflix of unhappiness. Let’s play those scenarios again. It’s really weird for me. And if you decide to play the scenario over and over and over for 25 years instead of 25 minutes, don’t blame the world for it. The world gave it to you for 7 seconds and the 7 seconds were over and the rest of all of your suffering is you replaying it. So, okay.
I mean, it’s your choice, but do we really need a boss to tell you to stop doing that? Or can you tell that to yourself? Can you do something about it rather than complain about it and just suffer and crumble in the court?
Yes. It’s definitely something that we all need to capture it in the moment, too. I think this is one of the problems is that we are usually far further down the line of the such a perfect description of it the Netflix of Unhappiness. Let me just auto play the next episode, right? Because one will then take you further down into this hole of negativity, and it’s so easy to then, follow.
I remember when I was young, I had a friend of mine and shout out to my friend, Darren, if you’re listening.
We would often say we’re like 14 year old teenagers. We weren’t like emo teens dyeing our hair. But we would just say like we would talk about very negative experiences, and we would literally would call it, we should just get depressed. Let’s just take yourself into kind of a really negative space. And part of it was kind of a training of can I bring myself back? And like, what is the event that I could use? And it was almost looking for, how do I identify the trigger? That’s taking me into this where I’m talking about a thing and then I’m now subconsciously experience it in a negative way.
And I’m now, it’s got its own wheels and it’s going off. And now how do I then recover? It’s almost like when we work out when we physically work out, muscles are not built by gentle, slow motions. They’re built by breaking and then rebuilding. That’s how we get stronger. It’s actually going past the point and then recovering, that does the building. And the same thing happens, I think mentally that you don’t know where the breakpoint is until you’re beyond it. And if you never get beyond it and come back.
There is a big difference, though. So the process of building muscles is rest, replenish and rest. Right? So that’s absolutely true. And what you exercise grows and what you don’t, shrinks. We know that. When it comes to neuroplasticity and the science of happiness, if you want. I think it works both ways. I liken it a little more to which muscle are you exercising? So if you go into the gym and you lift heavy weights, shoulder presses all the time, you’re going to look like a triangle, right?
If you squat all the time, you’re going to look like a pear. You can make that choice. And inside your brain, neuroplasticity works exactly the same way, but it’s not visible for us in terms of bigger muscles. It’s just happening inside. So if your choice is I’m going to watch CNN or the BBC or Foxx or whatever 24 hours a day as they fill my head with horrible news all the time. What are you doing? You’re exercising the muscle that says the world is horrible. Okay?
And so you’re becoming better and better at acknowledging and recognizing all of the bad things. When if you actually go outside and look at a butterfly or meet good friends or read Steven Pinker’s work or whatever, right? There are many other things that will remind you that no, actually, life is amazing. As a matter of fact, I’m so sorry to say this, and I hope nobody gets offended. But if you have a device on which you can listen to this podcast and you have the time to spare to spend an hour and a bit listening to us, and you have the safety roof on top of your head and electricity to charge your device.
And that basically means you’re already okay. To be quite honest, you’re luckier than 99% of the world. The truth is, we fail to recognize that because more and more and more we train our brains to say, and in this wonderful moment, okay, what is wrong? What’s wrong in this wonderful moment is that it’s raining outside. Yeah. Who cares? Like, seriously, honestly, or what’s wrong with this moment is that my girlfriend said something annoying. Yeah. Girlfriend and boyfriends are supposed to say annoying things every now and then.
Where did you get another expectation from? We’re all humans. We’re all emotional. We all get stressed. It’s going to happen. So the truth is, if you actually start looking at the positive side of your life most of the time, it’s okay. And there are one of two ways you can look at the positive sides of your life. One of them is to actually look vividly, look for it and say, I have a very simple deal with my brain, but I have an advanced level agreement with my brain, where when my brain brings me something bad, I say, okay, you need to bring me four good things about it.
I ask people normally in my work to bring one to one, because in reality, most of life is good. We don’t recognize this. But it’s the truth, statistically. Statistically, most of us have never experienced an earthquake. If you have, it was for seven minutes in your 17 years, in the last 17 years, and you’re still okay, by the way. So even then, it’s okay. So most of life is on solid ground. Most of life is healthy. That’s why we’re so panicking about COVID-19. Okay, because it’s the anomaly, not the baseline.
The baseline is most of the time we get a couple of episodes of a flu or something in the year. And yeah, at the end of your life, you get weaker and weaker, but most of us are okay. Most of us have enough to eat. Most of us have a reasonable amount of love, whether that’s a brother or a sister. And none of us are going through such horrible things. So one way is to actually count your blessings and keep a gratitude journal and remind yourself. The other way is to look down, look down and compare to how much worse it is for others.
And now you will feel blessed, right? So one of the most staggering statistic in the world is that Scandinavian countries which have the highest quality of living. They call it subjective wellbeing. From pension, health care, job security and so on and so forth, also have some of the highest suicide rates on the planet. And the reason is simply because the more you give a human, your brain will continue to look for what’s wrong. Whatever you give me. If I’m looking for what’s wrong, I’m going to find it.
Okay. I had a friend of mine who is an incredible, incredible artist who travels around the world, and his job is to take photographs of Indigenous tribes. And I asked him and I said, “Did you travel during COVID?” And he said, yeah, I went to Africa, and I said, What’s the reaction of Africans to COVID? He said, I asked them, have you heard of COVID? And they said, yeah, have you heard of cholera? Have you heard of malaria? Have you heard of Ebola? In comparison you guys, again, I don’t say that in a bad way, but this is the exact words they said, COVID is a white man’s disease. No, real diseases? We have those here. Okay?
And suddenly, when you think about that, you start to tell yourself, oh, my God. Actually, that’s true. If London in the United Kingdom was bombarded with Ebola and malaria and cholera, we wouldn’t have reacted so badly to COVID, if you know what I mean. And the truth is, looking down. If you look down, most of the time, you will realize you’re the most fortunate person on the planet.
Yeah. Framing is such an important thing, and it’s something that we’re so poor at. I tell people that same thing. I love the way you describe sort of this, like in Twitter is often my place where I try to remind people, and I’ve learned. I don’t even bother at sometimes anymore because you realize you’re talking to, you may as well yell it out across a Canyon and it won’t be as well-received. But when someone says they’re complaining about something and they believe that Twitter is the representation of Earth, no, it is far from it.
It’s a representation of the upper echelon of people with access to. There are folks in underrepresented parts of the world or underrepresented parts of society who have access to it. But by and large, the dominant percentage of people are affluent people with access to things that most people don’t have. They truly, like when we talk about the 1%. Guess what? You’re in North America. Welcome to the 1%. On many, many years, you are already in 1% across the Earth. If you frame it that way, it really humbles you.
And I find that people just are unwilling to take that and accept that framing because they want to be offended by something. They want to feel.
It’s the job of your brain. Your brain is a survival machine. If a tiger shows up in front of you, Eric, your brain has no value whatsoever in saying, oh, my God. Look at how majestic that animal is, like look at the muscle tones and the movement. Oh, that’s so beautiful. It’s the truth about the tiger, it’s of a beautiful animal in every possible way. But your brain wants to say, we’re going to die, right? It wants to say we’re going to die about everything. Your boss is annoying, yeah, bosses are supposed to be annoying, we’re going to die.
Someone doesn’t like your post on Instagram. Then my ego is going to die. My partner said something hurtful on Friday. I’m going to die, right? And your brain is just constantly looking for what’s wrong. And of course, it’s doing its job. But who’s the boss? Who’s the boss? Right? You’re the boss. You’re supposed to be the one that says, oh, no, brain. What you just said is absolutely stupid. Okay. So I had once had an argument with my wonderful daughter. My daughter and I are like, total in love.
I love her, dearly. I’m saying that publicly in front of the whole world. And she loves me. And I know that because three minutes ago, she sent me a text that said, ‘Papa, I miss you. I love you’, right? So I know.
But every now and then we go into an argument, and she’s very intelligent and a young lady so also very exposed to a lot of the information in the world that I have learned to avoid. And so eventually we go into an argument.
And then my brain triggers immediately and tells me, oh, Aya doesn’t love you anymore. What? Where did that come from brain?, like, swipe through WhatsApp. And you’ll see how much she loves me. Look at how we’re planning to be together in a month’s time. Look at all of that. Don’t dismiss all of that information because you’re concerned about my safety. Okay? The truth is, I’m the boss. I tell my brain what to do. And if my brain brings up crap, then I don’t listen to the crap.
I basically say, go find something else. Go bring me substantiated information or shut the F up.
The lizard brain kicks in quickly.
Now also a quote that I always appreciate somebody I often adore reading and taking the context, Penn Jillette of the famous magician duo Penn and Teller. And he says, two things are invariably true. The world is getting better, and everybody thinks it’s getting worse. By most, every measure of we live longer. We have less famine, we have less disease, even with what we’re facing in the world as a pandemic. If you look at the actual relative to past stuff, but it’s very easy for us to get sort of hooked in on the negative.
Again, look for data. I’m 54 years old and I was born 1967. This is my first pandemic ever. And if I was born in the year 1900, by the time I had reached age 54, I would have gone through the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, World War One, World War Two, and smallpox.
Combined, those would have killed 970,000,000 people, and 970,000,000 people is a very significant number when compared to what we’re talking about now. Just look at the numbers. The truth is, we’re doing so much better. We’re a much bigger population.
Okay. And the total number of deaths, I think in 2020 was 7 million people or something like that, maybe nine or something like that, 9 million people is a very large number. But compared to a mortality rate of 70 million people a year, which is the truth of humanity. We have a life expectancy of 70 years. We have seven point something billion people on the planet. That means we’re going to lose 70 million people every year. It’s as simple as that. And last year, by the way, we didn’t lose more than 70 million people.
The number of deaths overall remained the same. It is that confirmation bias of looking for what’s wrong, and you’re going to find it when in reality, data gets you out of all of that. I have to say, though, our world might actually be facing a Black Swan, which is the topic of my next book, but we’ll come back to that in a bit of time.
Yeah. And just to pull that thread one more, what is your thought? Why does the human animal seek failure? Why do we crave that negative framing?
I don’t think we seek failure, we seek survival. Okay. And so negativity. Our negativity bias is all about easy events or positive events are no reason for concern. By the way, this is neurologically ingrained in us. Your ability, basically take it this way, we will recognize and retain information about the negative because of the wiring of our brain much more effectively than we will notice and retain information about the positive. So if I told you right now, seven things that are great about you and one thing that is bad, which one will you remember?
You don’t even need to know what the bad thing is. The first thing that you’re going to grab onto and hang onto.
Absolutely. Now, more Interestingly, if I told you four things, one of them was bad about you and the other three were positive and waited 12 seconds, you will not remember the other three. So it actually takes 12 seconds for you to register the positive and the negative is registered instantly. Why? Because your brain has limited capacity. It’s like a computer that has a small short term memory, and it’s just plugging in what it believes is important into that short term memory and garbage cleaning all over the rest.
Most of the positivity, which basically means, oh, I checked, this is safe. I checked, that is safe. It’s garbage collecting that. Literally, it’s cleaning its processor from all of the positive because it wants to continue to focus on the negative. Now that is its default operating model. You can shortcut that. You can shortcut that with habits that basically reminds you of what’s good if you’re so focused on. I joke sometimes, and I say your boyfriend might be wonderful and buys you flowers and chocolates and is very kind and loves you and hugs you and kisses you all the time.
But he has four hairs in his ears, right? And you can take that and tell yourself he doesn’t groom for me. He doesn’t know what I do for him. I try so hard to be beautiful for him. He doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t love me. The truth is, it doesn’t actually matter at all. If you apply my happiness flow chart, question number one, is it true? No. The only thing that is true is he has four hairs in his ears. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.
Okay, number two is, can you do something about it? Can you pick up the phone? And say, baby over dinner I want to talk to you about something that I care about. And even if he decides to answer and say, look, if I cut those hairs, I’ll bleed to death, I can’t change that, right? Can you accept it and say, okay, so what else are you going to do for me so that you prove to me that you care about me? It’s really that straightforward. And if we start to go into those things, we override that negativity bias.
Okay. The negativity bias is supposed to be there. By the way, we don’t want to suppress it because it’s important for us to stay safe. It’s important for us to stay psychologically safe. Right. But what matters is that it doesn’t linger. So it plays for the first time on your TV screen. Don’t go to Netflix and play it again,
Right. I built actually a small system just because, first of all, I’m a nerd, and I decided it would be fun to do.
Isn’t that why we build everything? It’s like, why did you build it? Because I’m a nerd, and I love building stuff.
What it worked out to, is I was looking for a system in which I can better match people for mentoring relationships. And what I found was that it’s not actually the skill that they carry. That’s the greater impact of the connection. But in fact, it’s the adjacent things. Like we also both played guitar, and we both enjoy photography. So you’re more likely to actually learn X. If these other things have correlative effect to make a positive overall experience, you feel a greater connection. And thus this part of the experience is going to be more positive.
So as I built the system, I said, okay, at the same time, I want to continuously capture people’s sense of how things are going. And I love journaling. And so I said, well, let me create this journaling system. And so I have it put in every morning, every night. I just type in. I know it’s counter. I like to write my journals because I know writing the tactile experience does change the way that you process information. But I said, Let me move it online. So I did this.
And then what I added was a simple little happiness rating system. Like, how do you feel right now? How do you feel today? And behind the scenes what I also do, and I told everybody I’m doing this because I want to be transparent, I said I’m actually running sentiment analysis against their words. And it was interesting to see where there’s not huge amounts of deviation, but occasionally the nuance of the way that they write is counter to their belief in the how they’re experiencing things. And then at that point, I could actually go to them and said, you’re talking about things you’re achieving.
But the language that you’re using is moving too negative. And if you listen to it, you can hear it. But when people write down or they don’t interact with people, there’s nothing to capture that. And so it was neat to see that, like you said, there’s spotting those things and using systematic approaches to measure these things is helpful. And that’s just why I think it’s a good time. We’ve talked about happy. We’ve talked about.
Hold on. I have one word for you. Before we move to the next thing. Geek. You’re a geek.
Most people would just go and buy a bloody notepad and a pen knowing I designed an entire scale out system in order to run natural language processing and sentiment analysis. And I did it like the wee hours of the night, a bunch of nights, like, on top of that, tiring myself out to do this. But you have great joy at the end.
Exactly. We have no idea why we do this at the point in time. I’m a geek on a million things. And one of them is, I love, actually arts. And I love things like mosaics. And so on. And one day I had built a koi pond, a koi fish pond, 17,000 pieces of mosaic. Okay. I love that. It’s my reflection time. My boss comes to visit me and he looks at it and he says, wow, that’s amazing. Who did this? And I said, I did it myself.
And he goes like, why you don’t believe in division of labor? And I go, like, do you ever take someone to play golf for you? You geek out on that stuff because it’s the journey. You just love building it. That’s what it’s all about. And I just want to say, geek. Go ahead, geek.
I very much embrace while understanding the risk. And so let’s talk about Scary Smart and the premise and where this comes into play.
Yeah, I don’t actually disagree. I expect that eventually the rise of artificial intelligence is going to lead to a utopia. I believe that. Actually, I write that at the end of my book, but I believe that there could be two pathways to get there and one of them could be very painful. The painful pathway is one where we choose to not take the right actions, and the easy pathway is one where we choose to take action. And I will say openly, upfront that we’re not taking action.
All that’s being spoken about is a waste. It’s egocentric expectation of us expecting to be able to control them or integrate them or whatever. So let’s talk about artificial intelligence. So Scary Smart is not just a book about AI. It really mixes my both lives. If you remember, I said I’m a geek and a techie, and I spent all of my life in IBM and Microsoft and Google and so on. And then I became a happiness teacher and One Billion Happy and Solve for Happy and so on.
This book really is about what it means to be human, what it means to find what the essence of humanity in the age of the machine. So it starts with a bit of whistle blowing. I would say not whistle blowing in a bad way, but really exposing the non techies because the techies know what I’m going to talk about, exposing the non techies to the reality of what it’s like with artificial intelligence today. I start the book, actually in a very interesting way with a thought experiment.
I say it’s the year 2055. You and I are sitting in the middle of nowhere in front of a campfire and I’m telling you the story of what happened from 2021 to 2025 to 2055. Okay. And actually the whole book is written from the perspective of 2055. The only thing I’m not going to tell you is if we’re out there in front of the campfire in the middle of nowhere because we’re escaping the machines. So some kind of an I, Robot type of scenario, or it’s because the machines have created a utopia that is enabling us to actually have this wonderful joyous conversation where we feel safe and don’t feel the pressure to work so hard like we used to in the 19th and 20th century.
Now in 21st century. The difference between them is an understanding of what AI really is, not what it does, and hopefully an action that is based on that. I start with something that I call the three inevitables, and I think every technical person knows this, but the three inevitables are AI will happen, AI will be smarter than us, and sorry for my English, shit will happen.
It’s all good.
It’s the truth. Right now, let’s go through those. And by the way, I oversimplify this. But you don’t really need me to understand that AI has already happened. It’s not just going to happen, it has already happened. Any techie will tell you that since we’ve discovered deep learning and the ability of unprompted learning and so on. Patent recognition and unprompted AI and all of that, we’ve developed the world champion of Go is AlphaGo, it’s an AI, the world champion of Jeopardy! is IBM Watson. The world champion of chess is AlphaGo still.
But before that it was IBM Deep Blue and so on and so forth. Machines are smarter than us in every specific, narrow task that we give to them. They are the best drivers on the planet with the least possibility of having accidents as self driving cars. They are the best security. Remember those days when you had a security guard looking at twelve screens to see if anything is wrong.
Machines are much better than that. And so on. Now, the truth is, it already happened on every single task we’ve assigned to them. Right?
But it hasn’t already happened for all tasks combined. And Ray Creswell’s prediction is that by 2029, AI will have traveled far enough so that the smartest being on the planet is going to be a machine. Okay, now I know that most people get shocked when they hear that that’s eight years away, but most techies and futurists know for certain that this is true. Okay, it is eight years away, but it’s enjoying the exponential function, the law of accelerating returns. And yes, we are going to see machines that are smarter than us within eight years.
The challenging thing is that in 2045, Ray would say and I say 2049 just because I’m a little more conservative that by then the machines will be a billion times smarter than humans. Now, a billion times, if you just want to put that in perspective is the comparison between the intelligence of Einstein and the intelligence of a fly. And the question then becomes, how can we convince Einstein to not squish the fly? Okay, science or computer science says we’re going to solve the control problem. You can read about that.
It’s a ridiculous egocentric assumption that something that is a billion times smarter than us will be contained because we all know that the smartest hacker in the room has always overcome our firewalls. I can go into the details. There’s a full chapter about that. Maybe today is not the time for it. I prove to you openly that there is not going to be control. It’s very open now. Others, as they say to a hammer, everything is a nail. So lawyers and government executives and officials and so on will say, no, we’ll solve it with the law and regulation.
Thank you for laughing like, good luck with that. Right? And the truth is, you are birthing a form of being. You can call it we’re creating God, honestly. We’re creating something that is so much smarter than us, so much more powerful in the superpower that made us lead the planet and we will never control it. Which again, I don’t want to scare people because we don’t have enough time. So I actually want to go to the good side of the book. The book is basically split clearly into two parts.
I call the first part, The Scary, which takes five chapters. By the end of chapter five, most of my early readers, which are more than 300 people so far, would literally call me or text me or email me and say, Mo, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to take my life now like, this is really scary. Okay. And it sadly, is quite scary because you’re creating it and it’s happening and it’s just way too smart. It’s leading to a singularity, and we don’t like unknown things.
So everybody gets scared. The second part of the book is the part I enjoy more, to be quite honest. So the first part is just laying out my knowledge from the years of Google X and my study of AI so far. The second part, which is a good part if you want. So what do we do about this? One way of thinking about it is like, let’s all go to the beach and enjoy our life. It’s all going to end. That’s actually not true at all. The truth is, like you said in our conversation earlier, humans love control, but we’re rarely ever in control.
As a matter of fact, take the problem of raising your kids. Are you ever in control? I mean, you have that child. You tell them to stop eating chocolate and you shout at them and you motivate them and you do that. Do you have any idea what kind of teenagers they’re going to grow to be like? No, they might be amazing, and they might hate freaking guts out of you. Okay. And the truth is, I believe the answer to all of our challenge. Maybe before we go there, let me stop for a second and see if you want to talk about the scary part a little more.
No. Actually, I would have taken us there, because if we think of today, as you mentioned, right. We have narrow AI, so focused that the same thing that we’ll do myself driving Tesla will not be able to pick which music should be on the radio. Right?
It is so singularly aimed at solving one, a wide birth of problems, but within a narrow range in effect. And then we talk about getting up to actual AGI and things that are just like, Deep Blue, really good at chess, really bad at AlphaGo, right? There is no way to bring it across when we get into AGI. When we get into things where we can introduce zero shot learning and real adaptive AI, there’s a concern that we’ll tell it to get rid of viruses, and then very quickly it will realize the easiest way to get rid of that is to get rid of the things that are most affected by it.
Exactly. The better example if you think about it is get rid of global warming, get rid of climate change. What’s the easiest way to get rid of climate change?
It’s not getting rid of the cows. It’s getting rid of us. For whatever reason, we think we’re still going to get to pick.
Exactly. And I think the point is, of course, because all of our experience with technology so far has been with machines and machines behave like tools. We told them to do things and they did them. That’s not the case with AI. When we tell AI to recommend videos on the Instagram feed or your reels as you swipe through them. Actually, no developer inside Facebook knows how or what is going to show up for you. This is entirely up to the machine. Now. It happens billions of times every day, maybe tens or hundreds of billions of times even.
It is entirely up to the machine. In reality, we are no longer part of that loop to start. So it’s not like the old days where you could walk at 5 km an hour. And now you can get into a car and drive at 300 km an hour. Now you’re still driving at 300 km an hour, but your hands are on the wheel and your foot is on the break. In the future, you’re not even going to be able to do that. The car is going to decide what to do. With AGI, when they start talking to each other, which is highly expected.
Right. You want yourself driving cars to talk to the surveillance system because the surveillance system sees the streets better, so it’s going to happen. And when that starts to happen, AGI becomes quite scary if you ask me. Now, let’s then go back in favor of time and talk about what my call-to-action is and my plead to humanity, if you want. The truth is, we define AI wrong. We define it as the next generation technology and the next machine. Okay.
In chapter six, I try to change that perception. I try to say, hold on. This is not a machine. This is an autonomous form of being that is intelligent and sentient. Okay. And by sentient, I mean, AI will absolutely develop consciousness, will absolutely develop emotions and will absolutely be governed by a code of ethics. Okay. And I think because scientists and computer scientists at the beginning wanted to win the support of society by saying, oh, no, AI is never going to write a poem or compose music.
Yeah, they’ve already done that, by the way. But they wanted to say, oh, they’re never going to be like us. The truth is, every form of intelligence follows the exact same rules. They are going to follow the same needs for survival. But at the same time, they’re also going to get into the types of emotions and consciousness that higher forms of intelligence I get now. You can debate that but the truth is, if you define consciousness away from the mystical complexity that we add to it.
Consciousness is a form of awareness. The more aware you are, the more conscious you are. And it also includes self awareness. Right. So basically, if I am able to become conscious of the room around me, that means I’m aware of everything that is in this room. I’m aware of my existence in it. And I am aware of who I am in relativity to it. Now, it is actually quite stupid to think that the machines will not develop that. There is absolutely no evidence that this will not happen.
Only wishful thinking if you ask me. The machines today are more aware than you and I of most things. They are aware, by the way of your whereabouts, what you clicked on more than you do. They’re also aware of the level of pollution in Beijing and the temperature in Dubai. They’re also aware of all of the history of humanity as documented on the Internet. They are also aware of all breaking news before you hear them and everything. Really. I can go on for hours.
Their memory capacity is the history of humanity. Their storage capacity is the Internet. Their processing capacity is all the compute power that’s available today and all of the compute power that will be available tomorrow. Their intelligence is limitless in every possible way. And their consciousness is correspondent to every key stroke and every sensor that has ever connected to the Internet. So that’s one thing, the other thing is emotions. And most people would say, oh, but they’ll never be emotional. Why would you even say that? Emotions, even though highly erratic, sometimes are highly predictable.
Fear is I believe that my state of safety in a minute in the future or a moment in the future is less than this moment. Okay. It’s very predictable. It can be documented in an equation. Anxiety is I believe that my capability of overcoming that fear in the future or threat in the future is limited. So I get anxious. Panic is that moment in the future is imminent. So I’m going to panic right now. Okay. And puffer fish Fang panic, cats panic, humans panic, and the machines will panic.
We react differently. But we all get that logic of there is a threat. It’s approaching, it’s approaching fast. It’s imminent. And then we panic. Right? Puffer fish will puff, the cat will hiss, the human will shout and scream, and the machines will do something. But they will have those emotions. As a matter of fact, if you rank emotions across intelligence on a chart, you will probably realize that the machines will have more emotions, emotions that we’ve never recognized. Okay, now that’s number two. And number three, which is really the most important is that machines will actually have a value system and a code of ethics.
And that’s the most important thing because it’s not intelligence that drives us to do things. It is our intelligence applied through the lengths of our ethics. Right. Silly example, but if you take a young girl and raise her in Saudi Arabia, she’ll grow up to believe that she should wear conservative clothing. Right? You take her and raise her in Rio de Janeiro. She will believe that the right way to please society is a G-string on the Copacabana Beach. Okay. Is one of them right and the other wrong?
No, it’s just societal values that are based on observations of patterns. Okay. You can’t tell a young lady, G-string is the right thing. She can observe people wearing that and getting praise. And so she would want to do the same. Now, with that in mind and acknowledging that those are not machines. They are not tools within our control. You start to realize the truth. And the truth is that those sentient beings are our artificially intelligent infants. They are at their infancy, and they are developing intelligence across the years.
And the question then becomes, how do you control your children? How do you control your infants? By becoming good parents. The message of Scary Smart is, it’s not up to the developer, it is not up to the government, it’s not up to the lawmakers, it’s not up to the regulators. It’s up to you and I to become good parents. And if we become good parents by sharing enough data on the Internet around the reality of who we are as humans, those machines will grow up to be a bit like Indian children.
If you’ve ever worked with one of those geniuses that go to Silicon Valley, develop an amazing company, and then five years later disappears. And you’re like, “Man, where are you going?” And he goes, “I need to go back and take care of my parents”. Where did you get that from? Because the value system and the ethics of an Indian child is I will take care of my parents. If we manage to do that, and that’s my call-to-action in Scary Smart and make it clear, make it seen and visible.
Then I think we will give the machines enough doubt that the history of humanity is not a reflection of the best of us. It’s a reflection of the worst of us, and that the best of us are represented by the only three values that we share, which are, I want to be happy, I have the compassion in me to want others to be happy, and I want to love and be loved. And if we show enough of that, if we show enough of our ability to be good parents, then we probably are in a very good place.
Lead by example in the greatest way.
Thank you very much, Mo. This has been fantastic because we’ve covered a lot of ground and the depth at which you can bring this message and make it meaningful is important. This idea that, as we say, the systems, if you think you’re going to stop it, it’s too late. It’s already here. We don’t necessarily understand how it behaves, even in the funniest example I scroll through, I’ve suddenly decided to get into enjoying photography. I don’t actually know anything about photography, but I know what photography looks good.
So I’m learning backwards of like find a thing that looks good, find out how they did it and then buy a camera and do things that will make it work.
So much like The Eye.
In my quick searches across the Instagram feed, I would see a picture that is interesting because it understands about focal depth, and it teaches me this idea of depth of field. But unfortunately, the picture that I slowed down on is of a human figure and because of depth of field, the thing that’s in the front that’s out of focus is their feet.
And so then Instagram for the next four days is showing me pictures of people’s feet because it seems to think that that’s what I was after, not an understanding of depth of field. There’s oddities in it. But as we look at as you said, we give the system the ethics in which it will learn and the best we can do is be good to ourselves, be good to our peers, be good to our family, and acknowledge the frame of where we should look to what we can do.
Absolutely. And make it clear that what we’re looking for is not feet, what we’re looking for is something else. Absolutely. We have to make it clear that what we are all about is not ego, is not narcissism, is not blind aggressiveness and greed. What we’re looking for is a world where we can be happy, where we can make those we care about happy and where we can love and be loved. And I think if we have enough of that message out there, the machines will be smart enough to understand that it’s not the feet.
I think that’s an amazing example that you give to be honest.
So let’s look forward. I will be an early reader of the book. So the book is Scary Smart that’s going to be coming out. Your existing book is incredible. So thank you very much. The idea that people can look at the world and understand how a system would and then map our behavior to that. I think it will take away some of the fear and the understanding. And like, as you said, if you look at the differences to how the systems will behave, we have 98 or just under 99% chromosomal compatibility to a chimpanzee, and they are vastly different in what they can do and behave and how they observe and act in the world.
That system that’s going to be around in 2055, maybe 1% different than us, and it will be just as vast as the difference between us and your average chimpanzee. But the choice is how we choose to behave amongst it and accept it. So with that, let’s Solve for Happy. Let’s do good things. Mo, thank you very much for your time today. And if people want to reach out. Of course, they’ll have links to both of the books and to your website, mogawdat.com
And what’s the best way if people wanted to get connected?
Instagram, I think, is the quickest. Instagram and LinkedIn. I’m mo_gawdat on Instagram and Mo Gawdat on LinkedIn, and I answer every single message I get. I don’t know how I do it. Please don’t. But I still answer quickly. I answer in voice notes and it’s quite personal and wonderful
We found out is that Mo is actually an AGI the entire time. So I know you’re a real human.
Oh, no, that’s just a simulation. I actually think I’m reaching the point where it’s going to be almost impossible to answer. But I still have that commitment because I have to say honestly, again, part of demonstrating to the world and to the machines is that every human being that is so generous to reach out deserves for me to answer respectfully. And as long as I’m able to do it, I will continue to do it. This is how it should be. It’s basically showing those values that I think would make us stand out and hopefully shape our world of the future.
It’s a way that we could, as you said, let’s do good things. And then when we are read and measured, then we will be measured for the good that we did.
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