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“My message is that AI and people can be friends” with Author Alex Bates & Chaya Weiner

Humans taking ownership of AI-enabled outcomes! When I was running my company, we’d do workshops with different businesses to show how they could deploy out software for their own purposes. Not only would we see that people weren’t resistant to technology making them better at their jobs, but they learned to love the “hero moments” […]


Humans taking ownership of AI-enabled outcomes! When I was running my company, we’d do workshops with different businesses to show how they could deploy out software for their own purposes. Not only would we see that people weren’t resistant to technology making them better at their jobs, but they learned to love the “hero moments” that happened as a result. When they created AI agents that triggered alerts that something was wrong in a manufacturing process, the human workers could step in and claim responsibility for solving the problem. They felt at least half the responsibility for saving the day. The message is that AI and people can be friends.

As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Bates. Alex is the managing director of Neocortex Ventures, an angel investor, and a Member of Peter Diamandis’s Abundance 360 Network. He’s experienced in anything from leading DARPA funded research in neural networks, to applying analytics for the world’s largest data warehouses at Teradata, to creating Mtell, a machine learning company acquired by Aspentech (NASDAQ: AZPN).


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

My academic and business career saw me go deep and technical on AI topics. Whenever I spoke to people on the edge of this subject matter (or those completely outside of it), it became clear to me that this topic is rather misunderstood outside of niche business and academic circles. I wrote the book to get out the essential information and raise a little awareness that this field represents the most important path forward for humanity. It’s meant to be a rallying cry and manifesto for those in the investing and tech communities.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

The process of articulating these concepts in book form was completely interesting. A book is a unique piece of technology that lets you project your ideas around the world and find the people who resonate with them. My book has connected me with a community of people, and it’s ultimately translated into tangible projects and outcomes. It was like a radar ping to find people ready to hone in on this stuff, and it’s been highly rewarding to see it published.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One time I pulled a literal all-nighter for the sake of getting ready for a trade show the next day. Not only did I have to man the company booth during the show, but I was on the event agenda to give a presentation at 3 PM. By the time I was standing on stage to deliver my speech, I was pushing 34 hours without sleep. I nearly fell asleep during the talk. The lesson is this: you can stay up all night, but don’t schedule a public talk for late the following afternoon.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m investing in and building some augmented intelligence applications. Stay tuned…

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

I’ll point to my college experience here — I did a full Bachelor of Arts in addition to my Bachelor of Science. The math and computer science were easy, but I’d be up late agonizing over the writing. It was the bane of my existence, but I was academically obligated to do it. That forced me into confronting it. It was the most painful part of my education, but it made me a better writer.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

Humans taking ownership of AI-enabled outcomes! When I was running my company, we’d do workshops with different businesses to show how they could deploy out software for their own purposes. Not only would we see that people weren’t resistant to technology making them better at their jobs, but they learned to love the “hero moments” that happened as a result. When they created AI agents that triggered alerts that something was wrong in a manufacturing process, the human workers could step in and claim responsibility for solving the problem. They felt at least half the responsibility for saving the day. The message is that AI and people can be friends.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

With proper vision, we’re on the brink of an amazingly improved future driven by AI and neurotechnology. We’re on our way to becoming superhuman.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

There were a few periods of burnout. I was doing my full-time job while also investing in and launching startups. When it came time to work on the book after that work was done for the day, I’d occasionally find myself lying on a couch, literally unable to hit keystrokes on the laptop. A focus on meditation, exercise, and resetting my mindstate worked to counteract this.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I am especially drawn to biographies of scientists and mathematicians. I love learning about how they made their discoveries and had various epiphanies. I want to know the human story behind the high-impact math equation or invention that sends things barrelling in a new direction.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

We need to advance the discussion, trapped in low level ai discussion, destroy world take away jobs. Need to get the conversation to augmentation, how to evolve it, how to invest.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved, and don’t forget that it’s highly rewarding at the end.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I recall someone saying something to the effect of “You can write a book by just dictating a few things into your iPhone and you’re done.” My experience reflects that this just simply isn’t true. If you’re going to start (and finish) writing a book, don’t underestimate the amount of work you’re volunteering for.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It’s simply this: AI isn’t just a good idea for the future of humanity, it’s an essential idea. We have had various step changes in productivity throughout human history. Consider the invention of agriculture, the rise of industry and manufacturing, and most recently the proliferation of the modern internet. But the next economic revolution is a revolution of the mind. I and many others are convinced that the merging of artificial intelligence with our own human intelligence is going to unlock a period of prosperity like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The future isn’t dark, it’s bright.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I tweet at @augmentedmind.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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