Eric Schmidt — The Promises and Perils of AI, the Future of Warfare, Profound Revolutions on the Horizon, and Exploring the Meaning of Life (#541)

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“The chemist wakes up in the morning and says, ‘Let’s try the following seven compounds.’ They try the seven compounds, none of them work. And at five o’clock, they go home to have dinner and think, watch television, and the next morning they think of another seven. Well, the computer can do a hundred million in a day. That’s a huge accelerant in what they’re doing.”

Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt (@ericschmidt) is a technologist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He joined Google in 2001, helping the company grow from a Silicon Valley startup to a global technological leader. He served as chief executive officer and chairman from 2001 to 2011 and as executive chairman and technical advisor thereafter. Under his leadership, Google dramatically scaled its infrastructure and diversified its product offerings while maintaining a culture of innovation. In 2017, he co-founded Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative that bets early on exceptional people making the world better.

He serves as chair of the Broad Institute and formerly served as chair of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. He is the host of Reimagine with Eric Schmidt, a podcast exploring how society can build a brighter future after the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric has a new book out titled The Age of AI: And Our Human Future, which he coauthored with Henry A. Kissinger and Daniel Huttenlocher.

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#541: Eric Schmidt — The Promises and Perils of AI, the Future of Warfare, Profound Revolutions on the Horizon, and Exploring the Meaning of Life

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear the last time Eric was on this show? Listen to our conversation in which we discuss the immeasurable impact that late coach Bill Campbell had on Silicon Valley’s rise as a veritable modern superpower.

#367: Eric Schmidt — Lessons from a Trillion-Dollar Coach

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Eric Schmidt:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

SHOW NOTES

  • How did Eric come to collaborate on The Age of AI and Our Human Future with former US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger? To what does Eric attribute the 98-year-old’s continued mental acuity and ability to stay up to date on 21st-century developments in artificial intelligence (AI)? [05:37]
  • Daniel Huttenlocher is the third collaborator on this new book. For the overall project, what did each party bring to the table? [11:10]
  • Eric shares a few of his own firsthand accounts of amazing things AI has been able to accomplish. [13:21]
  • How might a GPT-3-generated Tim Ferriss Show work? [18:29]
  • What is AI (and what is AI not)? [20:18]
  • What is artificial general intelligence (AGI), what technological feats will it take to achieve it, and when does Eric believe we’ll see true AGI emerge? [25:17]
  • What problems need to be solved before AGI is realized? [31:43]
  • How do these timelines factor in to the potential applications of quantum computing? [33:28]
  • Interesting considerations in hypothetical developments between AIs and humans. [37:49]
  • Looking forward to how geopolitical factors will play into the advancement of AI (and the effect AI will, in turn, have on them). [42:56]
  • What currently inscrutable problems would Eric like to see solved by AI of the future? [49:40]
  • How does Eric foresee computer scientists programming ethics and morals into AI? [51:50]
  • How soon might we see human brains directly connecting with AI-assisted technologies? In what ways will this optimize our ability to make use of them? [57:06]
  • Important questions and next steps regarding inevitable technologies, the regulations that will be drafted to keep them in check, and the adaptations people will have to make in the middle of it all. [1:02:26]
  • How will science fiction becoming science fact force us to reexamine everything the Reformation taught us about the nature of reality? [1:08:12]
  • What rules or constraints does Eric have for himself around social media and other types of digital stimuli? [1:13:33]
  • In what ways might humans find value and meaning in a world shared with AGI? Will such a world lean more utopian or dystopian? [1:15:21]
  • How will intellectual property work in a world where human art is assisted by AI insight? [1:19:33]
  • Who’s currently doing work in the AI sphere that stands out most to Eric? [1:20:30]
  • What does Eric hope the impact of The Age of AI and Our Human Future will be? [1:25:26]
  • Eric’s thoughts on podcasting so far since starting Reimagine, and parting thoughts. [1:27:15]

MORE ERIC SCHMIDT QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW

“We believe today, from the Reformation, that we have the sole power of understanding reality. But at some point, that’s not going to be true.”
— Eric Schmidt

“I am convinced that the secret to longevity is being a workaholic. The reason I say that is that Henry Kissinger, at the age of 90, knew nothing about the digital world, although he had a lot of opinions about it. But he has mastered the digital world and artificial intelligence with the alacrity and the speed of people who are just getting into it now.”
— Eric Schmidt

“Today, computers can see better than humans. Their vision is literally better. I didn’t realize at the time how important sight was for everything. A car should be driven by a computer. The doctor should use an AI system to examine you and then give him or her recommendations on your care. I’d much rather have the computer look at my skin rash or my retina in my eye because we now know, from many, many tests, that humans make observational mistakes—even the best—but computers, when properly trained, don’t.”
— Eric Schmidt

“I thought a lot about the way politicians speak. If you watch carefully, they take a set of phrases, and they repeat them over and over again. They’re simple phrases. That’s anchoring. They’re trying to get the audience, their voters, to start with this fact and then judge past it. Well, computers will be incredibly good at exploiting that.”
— Eric Schmidt

“The chemist wakes up in the morning and says, ‘Let’s try the following seven compounds.’ They try the seven compounds, none of them work. And at five o’clock, they go home to have dinner and think, watch television, and the next morning they think of another seven. Well, the computer can do a hundred million in a day. That’s a huge accelerant in what they’re doing.”
— Eric Schmidt

“Over and over again, I would like the AI system to educate me and entertain me and keep me curious about the dynamism of the world.”
— Eric Schmidt

“We have never had a situation in our human experience where there was an intelligence that was similar to ours, but not the same, that was nonhuman. Imagine a situation where these intelligences exist and they can be consulted. Well, who gets to consult them? What happens to their answers?”
— Eric Schmidt

“[It] has a lot to do with whether the systems produce more meaning for humans or less meaning. If the computer replaces me, that’s less meaning. If the computer augments me, it’s more meaning. This is true at every level of society.”
— Eric Schmidt

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4 Replies to “Eric Schmidt — The Promises and Perils of AI, the Future of Warfare, Profound Revolutions on the Horizon, and Exploring the Meaning of Life (#541)”

  1. Hey Tim! Thanks for all you do. Any chance for a podcast with Chamath? Would love to hear your collective thoughts on disruptive technology, the new vs. old money push and pull and overall learnings and lessons for us trying to make our mark.

  2. Just wanted to pass along a word of gratitude. I don’t have twitter so this seemed to be the next best option. Your podcast has been incredibly important to me at so many points in my life. I appreciate your curiosity and the number of people you introduced me to, each helping me take that next step in my life. Thank you, I am grateful, and keep doing great work.

  3. Hi, my name is Gus! I don’t have a lot of depth to add here, but I think this episode was a mix of fascinating and somewhat scary (I think you said that in the show, TF). I love the idea that AI will push our society forward. I get scared of the way humans might turn it into something dark. As always, TF gets me thinking… which is ultimately the point.