Month: February 2023


This week’s started out pretty interestingly – I’ve decided to set out on a new business amid the constant push inside me to start yet another ChatGPT course, mainly because I think it’s important to start creating a legacy.

With that in mind, there is a small project that I’ll be creating for a subject that I’m pretty passionate about:

I started collaborating with a couple of teachers to make this happen, which has been pretty nice and interesting – I don’t know if this is going to make money and honestly it could end up losing me a pretty chunk of change, but I think it’s something valuable to do that I would do even if there wasn’t money involved in it; think of it as a chance to go through the process of skills transfer or something else of that nature right there – an opportunity to create something that’s actually valuable for the community and that people will think of with a sense of joy.

I think frequently about the idea of transgenerational change and about the things that we’re passing down, and as time goes by, I increasingly see the importance of somehow making preparations to make it happen.

When I think about it, I’m not too clear about what I’ve managed to pass down so far as a heritage to the next generation, but I know for sure that I’d like to leave a deeper mark in the lives of people in this short time that we have on Earth.

This is my small attempt to do so – look forward to it!

Epic week

It’s been a very tiring week, but a very rewarding one as well.

Spoke at a conference yes, and now that’s in the past – what did it leave behind? A whole ton of new connections, memories, friends, and a ton of gratitude for people like Daniel, Richard, the mentors that’ve come by, the people who’ve shared knowledge with me, and the people whom I will work with as well.

It feels strange that this is the kind of thing that I’ve been missing out on for a while, but it also feels deeply like it was timely – a period of coincidences whereby things have just started to align with each other along a pattern that I can’t fully say that I understand but that perhaps Johann (hi if you’re there) might call “Manufactured Serendipity”.

It looks like a lot of great things have been happening to the people around me, and I’m pretty glad for that – also, maybe the sample space is skewed, but I’ve met some really great people who as it turns out are pretty down to earth and chilled out in many different ways that I’ve to learn more in days ahead, but that also carry fires within that I realize that I wouldn’t have seen if I’d maintained the facades and the lack of humility that characterized my earlier days.

When I look to the sky and to the world, I see how much more there is to learn – how infinite the seeming expanse before me.

The time is not infinite – far from it; it is quite limited, and I am but a single human unable to absorb it all.

But I will keep on trying, looking forward to what the world will bring – knowing fully well that it has brought good, and that it will continue to do so. This was truly a life-changing week, and just know that if you saw me and you met me this week, just know that you’re all some of the many reasons that I felt inspired this week by the sheer wave of talent and inspiration that constantly surrounds me 🙂

Thank you for being there and following my journey, and I’ll look forward to bringing you more in the days ahead!

Have you ever had this feeling that something was not quite right?

A sense of surrealism that you were being called to do something that you weren’t even supposed to? Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I was called to speak at BIZ Gear Up.
I mean, me? Speak at a business conference about artificial intelligence?

Well, if I think about it, it seems like it doesn’t make sense, but at the same time, I have been teaching people about ChatGPT for a while, and I do have a strong awareness of how it could actually be used in a business context. But it still feels a little surreal somehow.
I guess that they call this imposter syndrome.

You know, that feeling that you get when you do something and you’re just like, not sure
how you managed to do it in the very first place?

It takes a lot to be able to take someone who’s unproven to be able to speak at a conference
at a conference this important, but somehow or another I was selected. Was it an accident? Maybe. Did it happen? Yes, though that wasn’t the way that I was treated.

Somehow or another, Daniel Cerventus decided upon it, Mr. Money agreed, and I responded to the call.

And frankly, I just thought to myself, throughout this entire experience, what is this?

What kinds of people am I sharing the stage with?

I was punching way above my weight here.

But as I thought about it, I realized that knowing about imposter syndrome isn’t really helpful because
you can question and you can question and you can think about so many different things
that you could do, but it’s not very helpful.

Which is why I thought to spend the bulk of my time learning, to really seek inspiration from many of the people that I saw there, people who
have gone along a business journey that’s been not just meaningful, but also tremendously
successful as well.

Like Datuk Henry Goh, the founder of MacroKiosk: I listened to what he had said
about the difficulty of running a business, and it was insightful, intelligent, calm; he essentially observed that there was no such thing as a difficult year because every single year in business is difficult – in a time of low economic activity, it’s obvious that people wouldn’t really spend that much. But even so, in a time when business is booming, you still have to show people why your product
deserves attention.

From Lennise Ng, founder of Malaysia’s second startup to hit Y Combinator, on the other hand, I listened to what it was like to actually deal with the day-to-day challenges of changing the way that people behave, and it was interesting to watch that whole discussion go on because these were clearly consummate business professionals who had overcome much of the world in order to do what they’re doing.

When it came to time for my session though, I guess it wasn’t really very much better
because the person that I had to speak with was essentially this incredibly popular social
media influencer named Richard Ker, who posts these pithy graphics and images on Facebook
and Twitter that get thousands of likes each.

But somehow or another, it all faded away when we got on the stage.
Daniel shared and moderated throughout the course of the entire session; he’s wonderful at moderation, and I think I may have been a little too passionate at times when it came to this entire session
right here, but I hope that those of you who were listening enjoyed the time and everything that I had shared and prepared 🙂

I did do a ton of research in preparation for this and did my very best in order to
make certain things happen that otherwise might not have, and I’m very grateful to every single one of you out there who has been following this journey as it has been going on.

Thank you for being a part of this blog, as well as my experience as a human being, and I can’t wait to serve you guys more with even greater content in the days ahead.

There’s so much more to say, to do, to feel, to think, and I can’t wait for what’s gonna
come next!

Until then, sweet dreams!

How AI Will Affect Business – An Essay.

Recently there has been a lot of hype about the prospect of jobs all being automated away. People all around the world constantly express the fear that this job will be taken away and that job will be taken away.

As a fellow human being like yourself, rest assured that I share these concerns. I don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around them, but I have tried my best to do so as much as I could in the time frame that I started to learn about these issues.

One only has to look at the world of AI-generated art in order to see the kinds of struggles, debates and arguments that are going around the world right now as graphic designers and artists grapple with the possibility that their work will be automated away by art generators like Midjourney and Dall-E 2 – it’s precisely because that’s a possibility that doesn’t seem all too far off that artists are fighting tooth and nail against it.

To clearly exemplify just how good these generators are, a painting generated by Midjourney even recently won an award for its quality through a series of clerical errors and issues in the process of judging that somehow led to a key mistake; the competition’s organizers did not know that the painting that they had awarded the grand prize was AI-generated and merely selected it from a host of other entries that comprised both AI-generated and human-made pieces, unintentionally creating a modern day re-enactment of the day that Garry Kasparov lost against Deep Blue.

generated with midjourney, lol

Naturally, the event raised many questions and struck a chord:

How could a machine create art? How could it feel emotions, understand aesthetics, make artistic decisions?

The people who asked these questions were quickly confronted with the reality that a machine doesn’t need any of these things in order to create art.

More importantly… How would artists make a living in a world where business owners might increasingly choose not to engage artists in order to create things like marketing materials or even concept art again?

If we pay closer attention to what we mean when we actually think of a job, chances are we are thinking partly about a job title and making our judgments based on that categorization… But what is left unstated in any naive description of a job title is the the tasks that are connected to it.

A farmer does not simply ‘farm’ and neither does it make sense purely to say that a software engineer ‘software engineers’ without reference to what tasks these people actually do on a day to day basis. In reality, the basis of existence for each of these jobs in the very first place is the existence of tasks for which employers are willing to pay.

Think about what all of you here are doing at the moment as you consider how you will perform tasks that will meet the needs either of your employer or of your own business, perhaps both. Chances are, you only seek assistance because these are tasks that you cannot accomplish on your own given the opportunity cost that would incurred, or you do not have the skill to accomplish them.

Well, that’s why we spend money to hire people.

Some of you more inclined towards investments may have heard what I am about to say from Ray Dalio’s fantastic “How The Economic Machine Works”

But well, if you don’t have those 30 minutes…

One person’s spending is another person’s income.

Dalio didn’t observe this himself – rather, he quoted Keynes in doing so.

Was Keynes right in sum, though? Now that’s a separate question – quite apart from that, note that if we consider the nature of the job market, every single job is funded by somebody who is willing to pay for it, for tasks that otherwise may need to be completed in order for the successful delivery of a business to take place.

Over the past history of our world, and also in conjunction with the evolution of technology and changes in culture and disposable income, the nature of these tasks and what has been sought of the people who perform them has so drastically transformed to the extent that the jobs of today look nothing even remotely like they are counterparts of the past.

Take social media marketing, SEO and programming jobs for example. No doubt some of you are involved in these industries today and are acutely aware that they could never have existed a mere generation ago.

These are jobs that are tied to tasks that could not have been accomplished if not for the development of technology to the present day, thereby showcasing that the development of technology does not merely cause human activity and the demand for work to subside away, but also has historically played a role in catalyzing it and increasing it as new technologies develop, generating new tasks that would have never even been conceived a generation again.

This is what economists call complementation, which is what happens when the development of a technology makes it so that demand for (human) work increases, which in turn is what happens when the demand for task completion increases.

Over the past history of the world, complementation has caused humans to always have work available for them, because as technology is developed, so did demand for the new types of work that they made possible even as they eliminated older forms of work.

When the car had just been invented, for example, that created a demand for skilled workpeople who could take part in their manufacture by using their skills to create tasks to move them and to perform all the tasks associated with creating the finished work that was an automobile – hence the manufacturing industry.

Unquestionably, the development of the automotive industry has been a key factor in facilitating demand for the work of human beings, but there has been an unlikely and unfortunate casualty: The horse.

Prior to the invention of the car, horse carriages were a common sight in cities like London and New York, but after the car was invented, the need for horses dissipated. People began buying automobiles, and horses quickly became outmoded forms of transportation.

Once again, we return to the language of economics, this time no longer to complementation but instead to substitution: The horses as an entire species had their labor substituted away by machines.

Now why did that happen? The answer to that is simple. As humans, we found an easier way of performing the task that was transporting ourselves from one location to the next. It was a task that the horse helped us to accomplish at an earlier point, and we were willing to deal with the cost of feeding them financially as well as the time cost plus the costs we would have otherwise paid to NOT clean their manure (see: The Great Manure Crisis of 1894), simply because it was such a hugely better solution to the problem of transport over long distances relative to walking itself.

For the horse, we would have done anything and everything that we needed in order to keep transportation systems going and business booming (I mean come on – we didn’t care about the poop…?!)… but when the car appeared, dirty and polluting as it was, it offered a much cheaper way of getting ourselves from point A to point B that did not entail those costs.

For the vast majority of humanity then, the choice was obvious, and we switched away from horses to cars.

Now what do these examples show us? They show us that technology can both complement labor as with the case of humans working in car factories to produce automobiles, while at the same time technology can also substitute labor away (as we can see from the case of the horses who ended up in stables and as animals for children to play with in illustrious outlets like Malaysia’s Farm In The City.)

aka: my niece’s favorite place in Malaysia

And that should give us pause because the same thing that happened to the horse may well happen to us as well. As humans, we too can have our work substituted away. Business owners can now generate their own concept art and art pieces simply by making use of artificial intelligence software without the need to offer payment or compensation to an actual artist.

Now here’s where I come back to Keynes and Dalio and the haunting observation that they have echoed throughout the ages. One person’s spending is another person’s income and every single one of you who is reading this is likely familiar with the concept of spending because we live in an economy where money is important and we trade our resources for the sake of getting resources for ourselves.

What happens if nobody chooses to spend because they can make things cheaply for themselves?

We may say all sorts of noble things about how the human spirit is indomitable and cannot be replaced, but for all of you who are reading this, I would have to ask you – if you could perform all of the tasks that you ever wanted to in this world as cheaply as possible, then would you be willing to go for the more expensive option? Would you be willing to pay hundreds of dollars above market rate for an employee that you could hire for much cheaper?

Are you going to spend money engaging a service in an environment where everyone else in the economy faced with the same set of choices maybe deciding to reduce their consumption of your services as well?

Would you pay for a horse when you could have a car?

I leave that as an open question as I know that for some, conscience may motivate them, but for others, it is not so clear cut and neither is it easy to judge.

In the short term, say 5-10 years from now, I would personally consider it unlikely that all tasks will be automated away which then leads me to think about education. How will the next generation deal with this challenge which will hit them more acutely than it did the people of nearly 5-10-20 years ago? In the immediate moment, it would seem that it is important to develop the skills that make one human and allow a person to proceed by using critical thinking, creativity and insight to be able to make use of technology in interesting and valuable ways even if they are AI-powered to create outcomes that will be better for the next generation: I guess not all tasks will be automated away and that many tasks will remain that humans are more uniquely qualified to perform such as teaching, nursing and telling authentic stories – things that require people to relate to each other as we share a sense of commonality and shared experience; I think the complement effect will target that in the future as the people of the future learn how to better relate to the technologies of the next era.

In the long term though, as machines become more advanced, it is not a stretch to imagine that the scope of tasks that they may encroach upon may be such that there will be very few left for most human beings to perform.

It might seem like something far off or remote, but then I observe that the capacity of most humans to look into the future is limited – so was something like ChatGPT, Facebook, Netflix, the development of all these things that ended up fundamentally changing the way that we live in our societies today.

As business owners and creators who are standing on the vanguard of this revolution though, we should make use of this technology to move forward and to carve our pathways ahead in ways that may allow us to help or assist society at a later time. How it is that we would individually choose to do so is a matter of individual will or intent.

How exactly will it play out? I’m not completely clear.

But one thing is clear for sure. The ability to make use of technology and artificial intelligence in your business is more important than it has ever been at any point of history, and it will remain so in the years to come.

ChatGPT For Software Development

Today, I had the incredible opportunity to interview a software developer from Maps72 about the role of ChatGPT in software development, and you’ll have the opportunity to watch it right here:

For a description of the event, I guess you could just read the description that I placed on LinkedIn (Feel free to connect!):

It was my first time hosting an event and a chat like this in a while, and I really enjoyed learning from Rain throughout the course of this rousing conversation. Please enjoy the chat and what it brings, and I hope that you learn a ton from it!

I’ll be trying out a tool that Si Eian (one of my numerous friends from the ChatGPT group) told me about recently, which allows a person to just go right ahead, summarize a piece of work, and then have the takeaways all available and on hand – but if you have the time, I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to Rain and everything that he has to say because he is a consummate professional, a wonderful speaker, and it’s going to give you specifics for how you can level up your software development game in 2023. 🙂

Also, hmm – I know that I was a little bit emo in the post a little earlier today, but trust me when I say that a lot of interesting things are lining up in this world for me for some reason.

I don’t quite know why and I don’t quite know how, but they are somehow – and I’m very happy for it.

Lots of new friends along the way, lots of new joys, and lots of peace that each day is somehow meaningful, educational, a chance to share new things with the world that I would have never imagined having just a while ago 🙂

Cheers and here’s to the next part!!

The Person I Became

You know, when I think back about the person that I was a long time ago, I wonder how I managed to become the person that I am today, and I don’t see that as an exaggeration.

I used to be the kind of person who would dream of becoming an investment banker – that’s the kind of person that I was; I would imagine how it would look like when I ended up working for 12, 13, 14, 15 hours a day, thinking to myself that that was the ideal.

But no, that wasn’t how things turned out.

I changed.

I became someone who wanted to make things happen for himself, to create something from the fabric of essentially nothing.

Why that is? Maybe it was a combination of different things – a combination of watching narcissism and the incessant desire to compare disappear, a sense of entitlement that placed me beyond others fading away, and a few other things that were tied to my identity and who I was in the past.

I’m very happy with the person I’ve become 🙂

ELIZA – The Chatbot That Started It All.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading recently to prepare for BiZ Gear Up on the 24th, and part of that led me to read a bit more about the early history of chatbots – I hope you’ll enjoy this one!

We take a brief moment to move away from the hype that is OpenAI‘s ChatGPT, and take a brief intermission as we make a small trip back in time.

Picture this: it’s the year 1966, and a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory named Joseph Weizenbaum has just created something remarkable – the world’s very first chatbot: ELIZA.

No alt text provided for this image
Image credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Just consider this example of a conversation from Norbert Landsteiner’s 2005 implementation of ELIZA, and you can see what it was capable of.

ELIZA was designed to simulate conversation by responding to typed text with pre-programmed phrases and questions.

But what made ELIZA so special was that it was programmed to mimic the conversational style of a therapist, in particular a Rogerian therapist.

Users could “talk” to ELIZA about their problems and concerns, and the chatbot would respond with empathetic and non-judgmental phrases like “Tell me more about that” or “How does that make you feel?”

It wasn’t just a simple question-and-answer program – it was designed to provide a sense of emotional support and understanding that reflects interestingly on the ways that people derive comfort from self-affirmation.

Weizenbaum didn’t intend for the chatbot to be taken very seriously, calling it a “parody” in his 1976 book “Computer Power and Human Reason”… But the way that the chatbot was received was far from just a parody.

The response to ELIZA was overwhelming.

People were fascinated by this new technology that could seemingly understand and respond to their thoughts and emotions, and the program quickly gained popularity as people tried the chatbot.

But perhaps what’s most remarkable about ELIZA is that it wasn’t just a novelty. Weizenbaum’s creation laid the foundation for decades of research in the field of natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

ELIZA was the first chatbot, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last – and its legacy lives on in the many conversational AI programs we use today, in our Bings, Bards, ChatGPTs, Claudes, and the many more that exist and will exist today.

Can’t wait to see what is to come 🙂