The paragraphs below detail three of the topics I plan to spend the next decade of my life exploring and advancing. Like many eclectics, I’m interested in a wide variety of topics, but these are the three which genuinely keep me awake at night. If any of the questions below resonate with your or your company’s vision, I’m definitely interested in knowing you better.
Instantaneous access to information – when human minds can seamlessly tap into computers
Many futuristic authors envision a world where mind-enhancing computers are appended to our brains, perhaps surgically inserted so as to make them invisible to the naked eye. While I foresee many problems with this envisioned scenario, what I do believe in is that we will inevitably (soon) reach a time where communicating with a computer will be no harder than thinking. To get there, a range of problems must be solved: how can we quickly translate a human thought into a message useful to a computer? How can we instantly deliver that human message to the computer? How can a computer persistently understand what an unclear human message is trying to achieve? Finally, how can a computer flawlessly generate the response the user is trying to obtain (so long as it exists)? I’m interested in tackling problems at any stage of this pipeline.
Predicting human decisions – when AIs can replicate a decision-maker’s mind
Alan Turing famously postulated the Turing test as a way to discern when an AI becomes indistinguishable from a human intelligence. However, what I find more interesting is whether or not an AI can perfectly simulate another specific intelligence, essentially gaining the ability to predict its every move at decision time. As a simplification, picture a conversation between Jack and Jill, with an AI attempting to simulate Jack by Jack’s side. Given any conversational prompt from Jill, can Jack’s AI generate exactly the same response as Jack? It seems like we are already heading towards there. From a machine perspective, this is the premise on which online advertising is based on: given enough information about a certain user, can we predict his next move as a potential consumer? Or better yet, can we preemptively suggest a choice she is likely to accept? However, we don’t need to look at advanced machines to see how this idea is not farfetched: a very good leader will often know how one of his team-members will react to any given event.
Leadership and social behavior – when teams can function in perfect synchrony
I had my first taste of what authentic leadership looks like during my first year in military school. That year, I had the opportunity of analyzing two individuals whose ability to influence their peers far exceeded what one would expect from them. They were only a couple years older than the fellow students they were responsible for, yet they managed to create a team that held almost inhuman loyalty and respect towards them. But beneath the apparent layer of blind zeal towards a certain figure, the measurable effect that these leaders had on their team was a clockwork-like ability to complete any task assigned to them with little friction, and a long-lasting, positive impact on the student’s careers that was not observed in any of the other dozen teams at school that year. Since then, I’ve directed my life with the chief goal of understanding what is required for a team to function with such consistent success.