Artificial Intelligence Liberating Humans

Dennis Mortensen, CEO of
A Special Guest:
This week we’re lucky enough to have Dennis Mortensen, CEO and Founder of, share his thoughts on how an AI-enabled product can change our world. His take is fascinating, so be sure to read the “Where are we going?” section.
Every week from now on, an expert in the space will join us to share his/her thoughts on how AI will shape the way we work and live.
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See you next week!
- Sam

Where are we going?

There are about 90 million knowledge workers in the US who schedule approximately 10 billion meetings every year. We have spent the last 20-some-odd years playing email ping pong to set up our meetings, and in doing so we’ve been taking valuable time away from what we’re actually hired to do. It would be devastating to imagine us spending the next 20 years doing the same thing.

Some solutions have offered to alleviate this pain, but the only way to truly escape it is through an agent setting where you can hand off this task to be completed in full, by either a human or an AI agent.

A human assistant is expensive, and most of us can only dream of having one for meeting scheduling. If we imagine a future in which everybody has an agent to schedule their meetings, I think we can quickly agree that this can only happen if the process is driven by AI. Which is to say, AI makes the democratization of the personal assistant possible.

Positive network effects make it likely that a single AI agent will dominate. And if this holds true, then when two people use an AI assistant to schedule a meeting, the AI agent is effectively talking to herself. We like to call this “scheduling nirvana” because we’re geeks. If our single agent vision holds and “scheduling nirvana” abounds, then we’ll see a true paradigm shift. Scheduling meetings will conceptually disappear as a task, and eventually negotiating a time for your own meeting will be as eccentric as mailing someone a letter to setup a time to meet 🙂

– Dennis R. Mortensen, CEO and Founder of — an AI personal assistant who schedules meetings for you

Awesome, not awesome.

“Currently it’s hard for content moderators on platforms like Facebook [to intervene in emotional abuse people direct at each other], and it’s hard for the people who are victims, having to wait for a situation to be resolved. An AI character will ask the target of the behavior if they’re all right, and whether any action is needed… Considered intervention by artificial intelligence could someday help me curate better personal boundaries in an environment that is more exhausting, more overwhelming, and demanding — particularly for women and people of color — than ever.” — Leigh Alexander, Writer.Learn More on How We Get to Next >

#Not Awesome
“As the technology advances, we might soon cross some threshold beyond which using AI requires a leap of faith. Sure, we humans can’t always truly explain our thought processes either — but we find ways to intuitively trust and gauge people. Will that also be possible with machines that think and make decisions differently from the way a human would? We’ve never before built machines that operate in ways their creators don’t understand. How well can we expect to communicate — and get along with — intelligent machines that could be unpredictable and inscrutable?’” Will Knight, Editor.Learn More on MIT Technology Review

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What we’re reading.

1/ In a letter to Amazon’s shareholders, Jeff Bezos insists that AI they’ve baked into product recommendations, demand forecasts, and fraud detection will be critical for the long-term survival of the company. Learn More on SEC >

2/ When a future artificial intelligence can understand and speak English as well as a human, it will have been made possible by NASA scientists who studied moonrocks in the 1970’s.

3/ In an effort to reduce the burden of rapid job automation, the government and large private companies are planning to create an “A.I. Index” that will track advances in artificial intelligence and guide education and job-training programs.

4/ Computers learning from human writing will adopt the same racial prejudices and gender-based work stereotypes that exist in our society.

5/ A major German e-commerce company is using an AI algorithm to predict with 90% accuracy what products will be bought within 30 days, and hasn’t (yet) fired anyone as a result.

6/ Our perception of what it means to be human will drastically change as machines continue to surprise us in their ability to accomplish creative tasks.

7/ Google launched a (machine learning enabled) product that helps people draw better by guessing what their scribbles are supposed to be, and suggesting better looking illustrations from artists.

Links from the community.

“A Curated Set of Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and IoT Resources” by Alex Castrounis (@innoarchitech). Learn More on GitHub >

“AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals” submitted by Jay Zaveri (@superjz). Learn more on The Guardian >

“Why bots aren’t the real AI disruption” submitted by Avi Eisenberger (@aeisenberger). Learn more on Textio >

“The executive behind Pizza Hut and KFC says robots could replace some fast-food workers by 2025” submitted by Elana Baurer (@elanabaurer). Learn More on Business Insider >

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