😳 New Name and New Home!
Welcome to Not Entirely Boring!
I had some great feedback after the first issue of AJG Weekly and though I couldn’t think of a name at the time I did some brainstorming and came up with ‘Not Entirely Boring’. It’s remarkably simple, because the content on both the (new) website and the newsletter doesn’t have a specific niche to attach itself to. From tech to stoicism, productivity to procrastination. As human beings we’re complex with different interests and passions and I’m just the same. So rather than corner myself to a specific topic, I wanted to celebrate the fact that some stuff in this newsletter will be super interesting to some and some of it, not so much. But ultimately, it’s not entirely boring.
I also moved all the back-end techie stuff (that I don’t quite understand) to a new service, giving me a bit more control and ownership of the content, and if you’re reading this you’ve migrated across from Substack and there’s nothing else that you need to do. I will be updating the website with long new form content on various subjects. However, on this new platform you will only get a single weekly email (instead of every time I post something, so a little less spam to brighten your week) You can also read my work on Medium.
So, I guess this niche is… not having a niche! And that’s not entirely boring.
👾 ChatGPT and AI Products are EVERYWHERE.
Do you ever get the feeling that we’re on the cusp on a new technological revolution? In my day job I work in the IT industry and I’m such an advocate for new tech and I make it my business to understand the changing world of low code, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and how data is harnessed. I used to say the most power weapon wasn’t nuclear, but language. I take that back. I think the most powerful weapon is data. And many words have already been written on how data is weaponised. I believe that the AI revolution isn’t here just yet, but it’s not far away, only a few years at most. And Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI (The creator of ChatGPT) has gone from being laughed at when OpenAI was established in 2015 to getting threats from people afraid of the capabilities of the emerging technology.
What the people at OpenAI have been able to accomplish, is nothing short of astonishing. I feel that the implementation into other productivity products is also, genius. However, there is a dark side of all this, and though I don’t expect SkyNet to be dropping bombs anytime soon, I think that we are in danger of becoming a generation of ‘lazy thinkers’.
I am going to confess something: I was thinking about my vows for my wedding next week and I even found myself asking ChatGPT to write them. I’m guilty as sin and don’t know how I feel. The most important words of my adult like and I asked an artificial intelligence to write them. (For the record, what I will say, won’t be written by AI). I also heard a story of a mother who used ChatGPT to write some words that she was to say at a graduation event. Something heart felt and personal, like me. She went to a computer to do the hard work for her.
Microsoft’s Co-pilot has been given a limited beta released and can summarise minutes from a meeting and gives you talking points. You would never need to read boring business documentation ever again. In fact, there are now tools that can listen into the meeting, give you the minutes with summaries and talking points for the follow up. If you feed the application, enough data you can get accurate and valuable information that can be used in a multitude of way that will create new efficiencies. In a world where time is as valuable as cash, I can see how this is going to be a game changer. Microsoft Loop (which is essentially Notion) is going to prove interesting as my layering ChatGPT over the Microsoft 365 ecosystem - particularly OneDrive, the data that it’s able to read from is going to be very relevant to the user. This is where Artificial intelligence will enhance our professional lives.
There are many other features that are of note - brainstorming ideas, the ability of AI to change the style and tone of a document. All this stuff is exciting.
However, my issue is how it may prove problematic with critical thinking and developing strategies. People who develop sales strategies do so based on human relationships, being able to see patterns emerging in the markets they specialise in and there is also a legitimate argument for ‘gut feel’, these are things that AI could emulate, but I can’t attest to the degree of success that it can have. And this begs the question; at what point does artificial intelligence threaten the workforce? There are lots of unknowns with AI. And as a person who is professionally driven by process and tries to be risk averse, the inconsistencies and inaccuracies of AI, including ChatGPT could end up making its way into official and formal documentation. Are we too quick to rely on a service this is still unproven? Are we putting the cart before the horse? And if we’re constantly fact checking, are we really making things easier on ourselves?
Ultimately, my thinking on ChatGPT has evolved in recent weeks. When I wrote this blog I was thinking of AI as a threat to creative thinking, and creation in general. I could go on about how TikTok has eradicated the attention span of a generation down to less than 60 seconds, couple that with AI doing all the legwork then I am cautious.
However, in the professional space, I am very excited as to the efficiencies that will undoubtedly come to fruition and quite soon.
I want to show you a use-case of AI is capable of. This video is a tutorial on a notes app that you speak into, it gives you a full transcript, key points, and summaries. Built entirely on a low code, the Notion expert, Thomas Frank shows you how you can build this yourself.
This takes me onto my first of two 🎧 podcast recommendations:
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the developers of ChatGPT talks extensively about GPT-4 (the latest version of GPT) and the future of AI. It’s a real insight into the person who, as previously mentioned, in 2015 came forward and said that they were going to build the first AGI.
What is an AGI?
AGI stands for Artificial General Intelligence, which refers to the ability of artificial intelligence to perform any intellectual task that a human can do. AGI is considered a step beyond narrow or specific AI systems that are designed to perform particular tasks. While current AI systems can perform some tasks more accurately and efficiently than humans, they remain limited in their ability to apply knowledge to new situations and learn from experience. AGI is still a developing field, with many researchers working to create machines that can truly exhibit human-like intelligence in a wide range of contexts. (Source: ChatGPT)
🤔 Why am I recommending this?
Some of the key takeaways for me, and why I think this is a very interesting listen is that Lex (the host) is quite comfortable challenging Sam on some topics that some other podcasters may shy away from. For example, is ChatGPT woke? Sam does state that he doesn’t really know what woke is (frankly, I don’t think anyone does), but they talk at length about AI and bias. And he freely admits that there was a level of bias. But also, that some of the stuff floating round the internet simply isn’t true - for example, ChatGPT didn’t say that Jordan Peterson was a fascist. But that doesn’t make good headlines. However, Sam believes that AI will ultimately become more balanced that any human could ever be, as it’s not driven by emotion. They go onto talk about consciousness, with Ex Machina (the movie) being cited as a reference. In the movie the smile when no one is looking, represents the passing of the Turing test for consciousness. The conversation on the ultimate in AI become self-aware, sentience, is one I think people are going to be having for a long time. As AI becomes a disrupter in workforce the episode goes on to discuss that in the job market, customer service specifically, that the impact of AI will be “fewer jobs relatively soon”, but AI and GPT specifically should enhance jobs, not necessarily replace them. It’s a fascinating episode with the person who is at the centre of this new era of technology.
🗣️ Quote of the Week
People who say they're not nervous. That's hard for me to believe.
Sam Altman to Lex Fridman on some reactions to ChatGPT
🎥 Watch this film - Article 15
Article 15 is one of those films that I haven’t really stopped thinking about since I saw it about a month ago. It’s not often that I watch a film that stays with me. I think the last film I saw that had a similar effect was Parasite.
Article 15 of the Constitution of India is the law that prohibits discrimination on grounds of several categories, including caste. For those unaware, the Indian caste system sounds like something from an episode of Black Mirror, but instead of being our near future, it’s rooted in India’s past. Historically there are four categories, if you were in the lower of the castes then you would be limited to menial jobs, and opportunities in life were not based on capability or intelligence, but rather determined at birth. In the urban areas of India, the caste system, according to academics is largely non-existent. However, in rural areas things are very different. In the film, a police officer travels to investigate the murder of several girls. The village is rooted in the caste system, and it challenges the system. The film isn’t perfect, by any means - but it’s an important insight into a system that some may find shocking and unbelievable, more so that the film is based on actual documented events (dramatised of course).
Article 15 is now on Netflix in the UK. For international availability check the website www.justwatch.com
🎧 Listen to this Podcast
Since I started looking after my body and my mind, I’ve been drawn to science focused podcasts. And Huberman Lab is one of the best. This episode is fantastic for anyone who has experienced stress, and issues with weight loss. If you’ve never come across Huberman Lab, here is a 100-word summary, written is under 100 words in a ‘casual’ tone, according to ChatGPT 😜
The Huberman Lab Podcast is where Dr. Andrew Huberman, a brain science professor at Stanford University, talks about all sorts of interesting stuff related to the brain and psychology. He talks about things that affect our minds, like sleep, anxiety, and how we perceive the world around us. He brings in other experts to chat with him about all sorts of things related to brain science, and he shares cool research findings to help you improve how you think and feel. It’s a podcast that’ll teach you all sorts of things about how your brain works, and how to make it work better!
🤔 Why am I recommending this?
Stress is something that we all face in our lives, and when I think of stress, there are the obvious negative connotations. On listening to this podcast, I was really surprised to learn that stress comes in different forms and there are good types of stress and bad types. For example, good stress can come in the form of training, both lifting and cardio and these short bursts of stress will have huge long-term benefits. And also, that some types of stress are only really ’stress’ because of the way that we cope with and also recovery from stress allows us to grow. As someone has struggled with my weight and has had an unhealthy relationship with food, the podcast episode also goes into the science of how stress drives cravings and an insulin resistance state which coupled with a compulsive eating disorder can have some frightening repercussions. Especially as when we crave food at times of stress, we crave calorie dense ‘comfort’ food. There’s a ton more stuff in the episode. Absolutely worth listening too.
😎 This is so cool
Last week, I discovered that I was able to procrastinate at an Olympic level when I discovered the Internet Archives historical map collection, and I also mentioned how I’m engrossed in The Count of Monte Cristo, one of the very best novels I have ever read (so far, it’s long and I’m not finished). Keeping with the history theme, if you haven’t heard of it already, I’d like to introduce you to your new favourite YouTube Channel - OverSimplified.
I wish that Oversimplified existed when I was in school. Whoever the person is who creates this channel, and I believe it’s just one guy, is possibly the best teacher in the world. He animates key events in history and tells them in a comedic, yet accurate way. I was unaware of the details of the French Revolution until I stumbled upon his channel, and this gave me a better understanding of the Count of Monte Cristo.
The creator doesn’t upload videos often because he has a day job and when you see these videos you’ll understand - For me, as a (sort of) travel YouTube person, I can appreciate the amount of work that’s needed to be done. But this stuff, is next level. It’s probably been copied by others as the channel has been around for a few years now. But I’d say, start with the French Revolution, Part 1. It’s so so good. Then show your kids (if you have kids) and watch then get excited by the best history lesson we never had.
📺 YouTube Updates
As I’m writing this Glen and I are flying over the Atlantic to Las Vegas, as I mentioned last week getting married this week, but also filming a ton of content for our channel. It’s been a while since we vlogged in public so didn’t feel totally comfortable - a bit out of practice, but we got some B-Roll of the British Airways Executive Lounge as part of our video of our experience flying BA Club World. Suffice to say, so far... it’s very nice. The food is really good - and I don’t mean good for airport/airplane food. It’s just good food. Is it worth the premium price? You’ll have to subscribe to our YouTube channel and find out! (Just wait to you see the lamb)
🧠 A Slice of Original Thinking
Earlier this week, this article from Insider caught my eye. The job market does seem to go up and down. It was only a couple of years ago that it was an employee’s market, particularly in tech where it was simply impossible to recruit people for the amount of work on the table. But then only recently, Microsoft, Google and others announced thousands of redundancies. There are also those ‘dream jobs’ or ‘dream organisations’ the ones that people aspire to and work towards. Now, I’m not going to use the ‘grass isn’t always greener’ analogy, because that’s a given. I hear often that working as a developer at Apple sounds great - but the long hours and what is expected from you often hinders the work/life balance. Which I think for me, is something I didn’t care about until I hit my mid-30s and now It’s 100% the most important thing for low blood pressure and long-term happiness.
Let me introduce you to Karly Pavlinac Blackburn, who really wants to work for Nike and ordered a cake with her CV printed on it, and with the help of a Instacart driver, Denise Baldwin, who collected the cake and wouldn’t leave the reception at Nike’s headquarters (she even had her son with her!) until the cake was collected by the person who it was intended for. Interestingly, Baldwin and Blackburn have never actually met in real life and only communicated through the app. I love inspiring stories when people think outside the box and go the extra mile and this one is extra special as it just goes to show that there truly are some wonderful people in the world always willing to help 🥰
And that’s all from me for this week. If you haven’t already check out some of the other writings at www.notentirelyboring.com and I’ll be back next week with some finds, including a low down on what it’s really like to get married in Las Vegas (with no wedding guests)!
If you enjoyed this issue, please do forward so someone who may find it not entirely boring! These weekly newsletters really do succeed when they’re shared far and wide.
Here’s a pic of me, finalising the draft of this newsletter on the flight over!
Take care and have a great week!