articles on intelligence

How we became “the ai guys”

by , on May 31, 2017 in Original

Our Story

Chris Bishop and David Houle first met at the 50th anniversary conference of the World Future Society in Washington, D.C in July 2016 where they were both presenting.  This annual event provides a unique forum for prominent futurists and thought leaders to discuss and explore various trends driving the transformation of society, culture and business.


At one of the social events, Chris and David discussed several shared ideas about the future.  David, who was speaking about climate change and introducing his latest book and non-profit “This Spaceship Earth”, was excited about expanding his writing and sharing his insight about the power of artificial intelligence, a topic he had first explored in his fourth book “Entering the Shift Age”.


Chris’s presentation was called “How to Succeed at Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet”, and focused on preparing today’s learners for the disruptive business models emerging in the global borderless workplace. Having spent 15 years at IBM working with both Deep Blue and Watson, Chris was intimately aware of the power of AI to transform existing business models. They realized that they both shared a passion for investigating and sharing the tremendous potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning.


David mentioned that he would soon be moving to Sarasota, Florida and Chris said that his sister lived there and that he would be visiting during the following winter.  This led the two of them to start to work on a joint presentation focused on AI in hopes of possibly delivering it together when Chris was in Sarasota. 


David, as futurist in residence at the Ringling College of Art + Design had in years past, given numerous talks at a highly-regarded lecture series in Sarasota sponsored by the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy called Einstein’s Circle. When David reached out to the Director and proposed that he and Chris might share a talk on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence: Past, Present and Future”, she jumped at the idea.


In early February 2017, they delivered a 90 minute session to a packed house of over 200 people. The response was overwhelmingly positive and a lively Q&A followed the session. In addition, several people emailed them after the event with other questions.


It became clear that the vision of “robot overlords” based on events like IBM’s Watson beating the two reigning Jeopardy champions was making people fear something that they didn’t understand.  So many of the audience members said things like “I understand AI now for the first time” or “ I had never heard of machine learning and how fast it is developing” or “thank you for making something so important so easy to understand”.


This was the “ah-ha” moment for Chris and David. They realized that the conversation about AI and machine learning had become either too simplified or too technical and that there was no real middle ground being addressed, especially when it came to historical perspective.  The other revelation was that people were very excited to learn more about artificial intelligence. 

Several people both at the event and in follow-up conversations called them “the ai guys” which said it all.


Chris had been thinking about the topic of artificial intelligence in the context of the massive disruption it will bring to careers, jobs, the workplace and the marketplace.  Explaining AI/Machine Learning in an understandable, predictive way is a logical extension of his work.


David, as a futurist speaker, has traveled the world for a decade speaking about the general future and how technology changes human behavior. He always states that technology is neither good nor bad – it just is and is also inevitable.  It is what people do with it and how people shape and use new technologies that is incredibly important. 


In collaboration with Chris, he realized that there was a critical need to deliver entertaining, high-level yet understandable insight and perspective on all aspects of artificial intelligence, machine learning and the other simultaneous tech trends emerging today that have a real role in transforming today’s marketplace. 


In their presentation, Chris presents the past and present and how AI got to where it is today. David then shares his fascinating vision of this technology’s future – what it might provide humanity and how we need to rapidly embrace it to prepare for an almost unimaginable future where it will be pervasive.


David and Chris have committed to speaking to general business audiences about the opportunities and challenges associated with AI and machine learning.  How to anticipate it.  How to start to plan for it.  How to better face the ways it will turn economies, the workplace, careers, markets and even our individual and collective identities upside down.  AI will unquestionably be one of the most disruptive technologies ever invented.


Our mission is to make AI understandable to business professionals all around the world.  In addition, we will make our web site a hub for learning about what is going on with artificial intelligence.  This means we will both be creating thought pieces as well as curating articles, videos and other materials we think are important to share.


We are artificial intelligence speakers, we are “the ai guys” and we hope to see you soon in a ballroom, theater, classroom or retreat center.  Until then, please use our web site as a resource to learn and understand one of the most significant developments in our lifetimes.

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