Artificial Intelligence

The past 10 years have seen a whirlwind of change and upgrade in every facet of life. Phones have gotten smarter, cars have gotten smarter, even refrigerators have gotten smarter. These advances in technology have shifted our approach to life in significant ways; communication, news reporting, and documentation of life events have all changed drastically, and so the way we think about much of life has shifted as well.

We live in a much faster-paced world now, which isn’t exactly news, but it does have far-reaching implications. In some areas of life we need to speed up in order to keep up. In other areas, slowing down gives us much-needed respite from the flurry of activity.

As we move into yet another year of advancement and change, it’s important to:

  1. Stay abreast of relevant changes in technology
    but also…
  2. Not lose yourself in the cacophony.

Here are two things that I think will be of greater importance in 2018 than right now:

1) A.I.

Also known as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and “The Robots”, A.I has progressed exponentially over the last few years, and as we move into 2018, it will play an increasingly important role in both business and general life!

The immediate benefits of employing A.I in your life can seem somewhat obvious; for one thing, tasks can be completed quicker and cost less to accomplish, making them faster and “free-er”.

The deeper benefits, however, lie in a fundamental mindset shift that occurs when you embrace A.I as a part of life. Bear with me for a minute, it takes a bit to lay the backdrop for this.

There is a school of thought that says a person’s value in the marketplace is judged entirely by how much they can get the market to pay for his/her services. So essentially, you’re only worth what you can convince someone to pay you.

The problem is, this price determination is not based on the actual output of the individual, but rather in their ability to sell themselves and their services. So the “value” of a particular service can be unrealistically inflated by one or two providers that have managed (expertly) to negotiate a certain compensation package.

So what happens next is interesting – the market in general starts to assume that the rate that’s being paid in that instance is the “going rate” for that service. Now you have both buyers and sellers of that service using the rate established by a good negotiator as a baseline metric for what to pay/charge for a similar service, but there is no standard of quality set.

The other thing that happens is you get a true expert in that particular field that can charge more for their services because they have the most experience or are the most widely known.

You end up with a market of people all selling basically the same thing – and some are able to charge more because of name recognition/experience, or because of expert sales and negotiation skills. And the consumer, you, is sort of at the mercy of the prices set by these firms and individuals because the assumption is, if what you’re paying isn’t in the 90th percentile of what is offered, you simply won’t get a good enough end result.

But as a consumer of these services, you absolutely need to be questioning the accepted rate at every turn, so as to not waste money on inflated value. The truth is this: you can pay someone $100/hr to design landing pages, or you can pay someone $5/hr, and the actual difference that one would make in your business over the other would not carry the same proportion. So the $5/hr landing pages would more than likely be outperformed by the $100/hr landing pages, but not by 20 times. So you might end up paying 20x for a 5-6x result.

(I promise this is making its way back to A.I, just hang in there.)

The last problem with those high-priced firms and individuals is demand. Even if you do end up with one of the unicorns that is able to get a 20x result for the 20x cost, that person (or firm) is always going to be in such high demand that they will be extremely distracted from you as an individual. In fact they have to split their attention and focus because that’s the only way to “scale” themselves.

In the end, we’re stuck in a situation where we are held hostage by people who can provide the service that we need better than anyone else, and our mindset keeps us back from accepting anything but what those same people deem as the “highest quality product.”

This is where A.I comes in:

A.I doesn’t get distracted. A.I doesn’t sleep. A.I doesn’t take vacation. Companies that use tools built on machine learning platforms don’t have to worry about sick days or accidental trauma or anything like that, because the machine is fueled differently to us.

Now, the initial product delivered from an A.I platform can sometimes be less than ideal, but the technology has improved to the point of being able to self-correct based on real time feedback, which makes it a much better long term solution.

You may not be able to create your own A.I platform that is proprietary to you, but using companies and services that are built on A.I or have a large A.I component will create a stability that working with freelancers simply can’t.

And you might be surprised. A.I can produce quite excellent results even without a feedback phase.

My advice is to find any task that can be offloaded to an A.I of some sort and start offloading.

2) Gratitude

One of the first things to be forgotten in our fast-paced, modern world, is to be grateful for what you have. Gratitude fuels what lies at the heart of success – optimism, drive, passion, etc.

Without being grateful for the million, billion, trillion factors that have come together (completely outside your control, by the way) in order to afford you the success you’ve come to enjoy, it’s very easy to shift to a more negative, egotistical mindset which has been the downfall of many.

Over the last decade, it hasn’t been uncommon for the “successful” to completely abandon gratitude as an attitude, leading them to short-term gains in some areas. However, the long-term effects of cultivating an ungrateful environment, whether in a company, family or just personally, can be detrimental.

Here’s the thing that is often overlooked when people deem gratitude a “weak” characteristic:

The world, and everything in it (as far as our businesses are concerned), is made up entirely of other people. That means that everything you do, both personally and professionally, is intended to affect some other human being in some way.

For a long time, there were no far-reaching consequences for what was said in a closed-door meeting at a major corporation’s headquarters, or even at a small local office. These days, however, every person you interact with is 140 characters away from publicly lambasting you.

Obviously, I’m not advocating that we “tone it down” to appease the “keyboard warriors”. There will always be some with a negative attitude who simply can’t be pleased. What I am saying, however, is that we are all humans, and expressing gratitude to employees, contractors, vendors, and even customers can generate an incredible amount of positive energy (which translates into more business).

And at the end of the day, if you are one of those people who somehow thinks you “did everything yourself” without any help from anyone else, just stop and think about all of the things you take completely for granted. Things without which you would be incapable of doing anything that you can do now: internet, computers, smartphones, Facebook, advertising, reasonably regulated business conditions, just to name a few.

*Warning: this next part gets a bit hippy-dippy, but I think it’s very important.

You know that phrase, “There’s nothing new under the sun”? It’s incredibly arrogant of anyone to assume that they are the origination of everything that they’ve created. We don’t create much of anything as individuals. We’re very dependant on everything that’s been done to create the atmosphere that we are able to thrive in.

We’re more like curators, taking everything at our disposal and morphing it into something unique. And when you make space to be the curator and not the creator, there is infinite potential. The world around us is a never-ending supply of inspiration, constantly serving up new and exciting raw materials to be formed into something amazing.

2018 will be an exciting year, full of opportunity and innovation. Jumping on the A.I bandwagon will help you scale yourself and keep up in a faster-paced world. And staying humble and grateful will keep you in tune with the world, and more importantly, with people around you.