Hello. Hello, I’m Mike Matthews. This is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode that is a change of regular programming. Today’s episode is not about fitness, but it is about living well and fitness is one way to live better, but there are other ways to live better. And in today’s discussion, you are going to be hearing.
From Kevin Kelly, who is the co-founder of Wired Magazine, who is a writer, a futurist, and who has a new book out called Excellent Advice for Living, which is why I wanted to get him on the show. Whenever somebody interesting has a new book, that is a great opportunity to get them to do an interview when otherwise they may not be available for an interview.
And I like Kevin’s work. I like the way that he thinks. I like. His new book, and so I asked him to come on the show and share some of his practical, accessible, and insightful nuggets of advice for living better and for living a, a more productive and fulfilling and meaningful life. And so in this interview, Kevin is going to share his thoughts on various things.
He’s gonna talk about why he wrote this book, what his motivation for writing the book was. He’s gonna talk about the importance of rest ethic, as he calls it. I get his thoughts on AI and how it can reshape the way that we work and the way that we live. And Kevin is going to talk about various other things related to living well.
He’s going to share some of the key lessons that he has learned. Over the last several decades of trying to, well live well. Hello, Kevin. Good afternoon.
It’s truly great to be here. I’m looking forward to this conversation. Thanks for inviting me. Yeah.
Yeah, same. Thanks for taking the time to do it. I said afternoon.
I assume though, are you on the West Coast or where are you?
I am on the West Coast, so it is just about, Late morning.
Okay, so almost afternoon. So I wanted to get you on my show to talk about your new book, excellent Advice for Living. And um, I mean, the first question is probably one that you’ve been asked a number of times, but as a, a writer and reader, I’m just curious what motivated you to write this book.
And the reason I ask that is self-development. There are so many self-development books and what. Caught my eye. I like aphorisms, especially when they’re insightful or clever. And so I like the format and I like a lot of what you have to say and that’s why I wanted to talk to you. But I was just curious what gave you the motivation to do the whole project?
Cause I know firsthand what it takes to. Do it to a high standard.
Yeah. Yeah. Um, so, you know, writing a book advice was not on my bucket list. It was not something that I aspired to, and I don’t think of it myself necessarily as a advice giver kind of person. It came outta my habit, I guess I would say, of collecting aphorisms like you.
I always enjoyed that compression that they would have and the kind of the way that they would work, like a seed where you could unpack them yourself. I am. Naturally right in a kind of very telegraphic and compressed way. The best way to actually convey advice is probably the way most people do it through stories.
And that’s what the book shelves are full of advice with stories. And um, one person called this book The Bible without Stories, and this is because I’m not very good at stories, but I’m really good at. Like compression. And so it was sort of a delight for me to try and take book full of, of advice and reduce it to a sentence.
And I, that’s what I would work on. That’s where I kind of go around and around and almost like poetry, trying to eliminate as many words as I could to kinda get some little essence, both advice that I. Thought would be practical, actionable, and more importantly, device I felt that I genuinely, honestly, truly believed and had experience with.
So that became, I. The mode and the motivation was, you know, literally to give my kids some kind of advice that I wished I had known earlier that I, if I had had this kind of articulated, uh, it would’ve been better. I might have known some of this kind of vaguely, but there’s something about. Being able to say it.
That is very powerful and they’re kind of like reminders really. I mean, we kind of heard it, kind of know it, but being reminded in this very, very portable, handy, useful way that we can, that I use to repeat to myself.
And it may, I think it makes it easier to remember when you do have it boiled down to its essence.
Makes me think of, if you read Ray Dalio’s principles and some people. Did not like that book because no stories in a lot of cases. Not even much context. Just here’s the little nugget, here’s the little gem, here’s the little thing I learned and you can take it or leave it. I liked that book. I also like with that style and the style that you’ve taken it, it’s a lot of meat.
There’s a lot of, there’s a lot to, to work through and a lot to think about. And you know, you mentioned storytelling being a very popular way to, to teach lessons. And that’s true. I dunno about you, but I prefer. What you’ve done rather than, cuz if you’re gonna expand on. Any of these points with stories, you’re gonna have to remove most of the material.
Like probably you’re gonna be left with 30% of the ideas and the rest it just, and it, for me, it kind of feels like filler. And I often, I’m like, can we just skip through the story? Just get, just get to the point. I don’t need to hear the story. And honestly, I, I don’t even exactly believe the story. So can we just get to the point?
Right. Well that’s sort of what I’m doing. I’m, here’s taking four 50 stories and reduced them down to the punchline. That’s exactly what I was trying to do. And that’s. And like you, that that’s what I enjoy. I enjoy that kind of economy. And, but more importantly, there’s um, not just that they’re brief, but there’s, there’s a way that they can kinda like a little mind grenade if they’re done well, there’s a little bit of a kick in them in maybe saying it in an unexpected way or not saying it in a way or in a very memorable way that’s like a song lyric, which you can recall.
You know, that’s what I worked on. Trying to, to reduce ’em to that someone else described, I thought it was really great. He said, oh, these are zip files. Yeah,
that’s a nice analogy. I like that. It, it makes me think of Twitter too, because it’s, one of the things I like about Twitter is the challenge of, even though now they, they’ve expanded characters, but still, if you’re going to.
Create tweets that catch on often. They need to say a lot in a small amount of space. And that’s actually how I came across your book. I believe it was about rest ethic. Can you talk about that?
I, I will. Begin this with the caveat saying that a lot of this wisdom that, that I’m reducing or encapsulating is ancient, has been said by others and others before them.
And I’m channeling, so to speak, the stuff from the Bible and from the stoics and from Confucius if and other modern people as well, that I might have heard from somebody, learned from a coworker or whatever. So the idea of. The one you just mentioned, um, remind me already. Rest Ethic was actually came from a book that I read by two young guys called, I think it was called Time.
Off time off, if I’m not mistaken. And they kind of went through a really good argument with some of the scientific studies on why taking sabbaticals and taking time off has been proven to be so important for productivity and that jived with my own experience in working with. Creative people and being at Wired where that ability to, to stop and let go and rest and do something completely different is not just like a privilege or reward.
It’s actually an essential. Part of that whole cycle, that whole cycle of, of being creative. And so that’s where that idea came from. And I kind of, you know, tried to deduce it into a sentence and, and it’s something that I believe very, very strongly in practice. Those kind of, the idea is a good work ethic requires a good rest ethic.
And so you have to be good at finding those, whatever the rhythm is. And there is different. Rest rhythms from Sabbaths to sabbaticals, you know, to literally time wasting goofing off, which I think is really, really important.
Why? Why do you think it’s really important?
Kind of goes back to something Peter Drucker said long ago.
I don’t think I put it into the book, but this was another guiding principle, which is that the first stage in kind of doing, making things well is that you kind of want to do. The job, right, but as you progress, it gets more important to doing the right job that the executive decision of doing the right job.
I find this requires not doing the job. You have to stop doing something in order to evaluate, get the perspective, become innovative in actually creating the right thing to do. So all those other steps of making sure that your work is productive by making sure you’re doing the right thing. It’s a metalevel occupation, a meta level task, and it’s very hard to do that while you are producing.
Something. So you have to kind of stop producing. You have to sort of stop working to make sure that you are doing the right thing and that making sure it can be choosing among the choices you have or more importantly, coming up with entirely new choices that were not even evident. And that’s, that’s a very creative and a very.
Taxing job. That just doesn’t happen while you’re doing the job. If you’re doing it well, you’re really focused on, you can’t really think about that. So there is a, there is a rhythm and, and, and that’s related a little bit to another piece of advice I have in the book about creatives creating things, which is that in the act of creation, you want to separate the.
You have to have some ability to create something without judgment, and you have to kind of protect it in the, in the very beginning, from that judgment of yourself and others. And that’s why solitude’s sometimes important. And the idea is, is that initial draft, the first idea, the embryonic dawn of something is very fragile and you need to kind of pursue it enough to give it some life.
And then later on you come back and you’re gonna bring in the critic, the judgment, the editor, who’s gonna be very ruthless. And just like, no last cut that one, that one gone, that one gone. And then you go back again and again, you protect that moment. That cycle is there’s rest, there’s rest needed. I would say even be between those.
It’s like, like if you’re shifting, you have to have a clutch, right? You just can’t shift. You have to have a clutch. So, so the rest is like a clutch in between where that allows you to have that perspective and protect your productiveness by questioning and. Contemplating and being inspired and having your imagination freely working without constraints, because that is, that’s the only way you can get to somewhere really, really innovative is, is kind of by, by letting everything else go, by playing serious play, not having the agenda, exploring, not really knowing where you’re going lost.
Those are all kind in that same era of in part also, Trying to discover who you are. You can’t be busy in that way. You have to, again, have to have this space. So, so all these, they’re all related in, in kind of making that space to explore.
I mean, something I can speak to personally is I agree. However, making time to reflect on.
What you’re doing and determining if it is the right thing or the right things, and also taking time to explore, to go down alleyways that may be dead ends resistance that I’ve felt to that, or some friction that it might never go away really. Is that it doesn’t feel productive and I’m just kind of like a person who’s wired to, there’s something in me that just likes to be productive and at the end of the day to be able to point to something and say, look, this is what I did today.
You can go for hours and hours in these other activities and feel like. You didn’t produce anything and it’s obnoxious, but I haven’t been able to override whatever it is in me that there’s something in me that just is not happy about that outcome, even though I know this is an important process.
Totally understand you, and I think it’s very many people share that same. Hesitancy and uncomfort particularly, the more, the more ambitious and productive they are and going in that seemingly opposite direction seems really hard. I think the only thing that might help is just, well, one thing is just to constantly see the other people who are really productive do this as part of their their thing, and secondly is maybe kind of reviewing your own past and to see how important that was had been in the past, which is where my own experience comes from.
I actually had this conversation with David Allen, which is that. There is a tendency to kind of want to. Take this efficiency, productive thing to imagine that we’re gonna do something which is like, I’m going to, trying to reduce the number of hours that it takes me to do something. This kind of focus on that being productive.
But actually what I’ve learned and what my advice is while you’re doing it, to switch and try and say, I wanna do the tasks where I spend as much time as possible, doing them successfully. Where you wanna go? You wanna go? Where you’re kind of like you’re doing whatever the thing is all the time, because there’s really no distinction between your play and your work.
Right. And so rather than kinda like, well, I’m gonna be doing things where I’m just gonna try to reduce the amount of time I spend on things. No, no, no. Yeah, that’s fine. But really focus on trying to pick the task where you want them never to stop.
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I totally agree. I will say though, that I think in reality, I mean somebody else said this, so it just stuck in and stuck in my mind, but, uh, that it’s hard enough to find something that you really like to do, that at least constructive in some way, and it’s a miracle to find.
Something that you really like to do that you can also make a living at. What are your thoughts? Do you, uh, agree with that, disagree with that?
I don’t think it’s a miracle at all. I think it’s hard and I think it’ll take some time for people, but actually I think what you described is actually not even the end point either.
I think when we began, we’re kind of on a search to find out and discover ourselves. What are the things that we really like to do? Then we also want to. Develop mastery so that we can, that we’re also good at doing them. I mean, there are lots of things I might like to do that you know, I’m not good at, to find those things that we like to do and are good at.
And then the third leg, the holy Trinity, is that you get paid for it. The other people find value in it. And that that kind of overlap, that little Venn diagram where you have that sweet spot is the thing that. Most of us are moving to, but when you get there, you discover that there’s actually a fourth level and that fourth level of the fourth circle little diagram.
Can anybody do. That’s my advice about don’t be the best, be the only. This idea that you wanna move and have, aim your life in a direction where you are trying to not just do something you enjoy doing that you’re good at, that you can get paid at. But also, and this will help to pay, is something that other people can’t do.
Something you find easy, they find hard. Something that you would do naturally and and for hours on the end. And there dly more about. Become the person who you truly are. Your genuine self, the the ability to fully become yourself. And I think by aiming in that direction, you have a greater chance of actually finding value from others because there’s no competition there.
There’s less competition as you move in that direction. And I, I emphasize direction because I don’t think it’s a destination. I don’t think I’m not there most. People that I know, as long as you’re alive, you’re still working on, on this, trying to move in that direction. It’s a very high bar. You know, take most of your life if you’re ordinary, like, like us, to kind of even have some sense of where that is when you start off.
Most young people have, I don’t know what I’m passionate about. I don’t know what I’m good at. Well, you need to. Master something and that Mastery Acts helps your crawl, your meander to. Closer to what it is that you can do. So it’s not something that you can, that you necessarily will will know about when you’re young and you can take the path of almost any remarkable person you admire.
And it’s gonna be full of dead ends and right turns and setbacks, and there is no straight line for anybody.
There are also temptations, maybe two big temptations that are just kind of baked into, it starts at a young age, um, in school and just baked into our society, which money and status, and if you allow those things to, if you weight them too heavily in these equations, so to speak, I think it can really distort the results and put you in a place where maybe you end up getting what you wanted, money status, but realizing that.
You actually don’t want now what you got.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it’s like I have a friend, Tim O’Reilly, who says, money’s like gasoline for the trip. It’s the thing that would get you going on the trip, but it’s not the destination. The trip’s not about visiting gasoline stations. Right. Getting as much gasoline as you can.
It’s just the motor. I think I have a piece of advice in the book. Make money to curate. You don’t create to make money. And this came from Disney’s, as you know, he was saying, um, we don’t, um, make movies to make money. We make money so we can make movies. And, and that’s sort of, you know, and that’s the Tom Sachs, the reward for good work is more work.
I like that message because it’s, it, it’s almost a little bit edgy in today’s, uh, I guess you could say the, where the culture’s at in terms of how we should be thinking about work. You mentioned this earlier where a lot of the, the emphasis on productivity is how do we. Essentially work as little as possible while still achieving acceptable outcomes.
And that’s a message that never really resonated with me personally. I guess it depends how you define work. If you define work as an activity that you don’t like to do, but that. Gets you money and status, well then, okay, fine. Actually, I might agree that we should do as little of that as we can to maybe do other things with our time.
Right. And I have a very similar kinda resistance to this idea of early retirement, you know, whatever that the fire thing is where, which is like, that’s just the wrong framing of this. Retiring. No, no, like, Yeah, ideally you never retire, right? I mean that’s, it’s more about your control of your time. It’s more about gaining control of your time.
You spend your time, and that’s what I call wealth versus riches. And so you seem to be wealthy than rich because you can, you can work on gaining control of your time and discretion of your time much easier than asking a lot of money, which you don’t really need for most of the things. When I ask young people what is that they wanna accomplish?
So I’m gonna give you a billion dollars. The magic wand here, and whatcha gonna do with it, it’s very clear. After a number of questionings, the billion dollars doesn’t give them what that is. They can’t get it there. It’s the gating factor. The thing that they need is not a billion dollars. It’s they can accomplish what they want for a couple thousand dollars and that’s much more achievable.
So that’s usually not the thing that’s holding people back from what it is that they want to do.
I read a book recently that kind of reframed that, and I totally agree with what you said for me called Die With Zero by Bill Perkins. I, I agreed with a lot of what he had to say and I’ve never been a very money motivated person, but as an entrepreneur and my businesses are doing well, blah, blah, blah.
I just, over time almost. Unconsciously accepted that your net worth should always go up, period for indefinitely, and you should always be doing things to try to make more money. That’s just kind of a foundation of like sensible living. I really liked a lot of what Bill had to say in that book and, and for anybody listening, if you haven’t read it, I’d recommend you read it cuz I, I agree.
I mean, the premise is, well, part of it is in the title, but to your point, Kevin, you, you only need. So much money to gain control of your time and be able to use your time the way you want to and provide what you feel is an acceptable lifestyle and that that is going to differ. But nobody needs to have multiple homes, a plane.
Bow, you don’t need these things so that you don’t need hundreds of millions of dollars. You don’t necessarily even need tens of millions of dollars. And it, it was interesting advice that it seems so obvious, but that’s the first time I had come across somebody really making that argument, which I thought was kind of strange actually.
I yeah, so it was an earlier book called Die Broke, and it was a very similar kind of message, although I think the second book, the Zero was a little bit more lyrical in it and a little bit more expansive. But the first one was literally about, and I have that piece of advice in the book, which is that you wanna give away whatever you have while you’re still alive rather than send it because it’s more fun, you have more control over it.
Giving it and it rewards everybody much more directly. And so that was the, the die broke idea. A again, I think the, if I was kind of restructuring this, the movement of, you know, getting rich and stuff, I would really, again, for me, refocus the entire thing about time. And it goes to earlier where we’re talking about, about, you know, taking time off.
To me, the unit or the metric to really judge about how well you’re doing is all about your time. How are you spending the time? What kind of control do you have about the time and how you know, and how are you using it? And that is much better than the money aspect because you know, oftentimes people who are, don’t have money and are desperate, they’re having to do things that they don’t want.
And it’s that the fact that they’re giving up their time. And that, by the way, is another little bit of advice that I wish I’d known earlier. I really did, was I came out of the kind of do it yourself. Hippie era, and I really was really into the do-it-yourself thing. I, you know, and I did build my own house from scratch, cutting down trees and did the beekeeping and did all this stuff.
You know, homeschooling do-it yourself. Was was the self-sufficiency, it was kind of the Henry da throw that was, seemed to be, uh, that was my aspiration as a kid to have a completely self-sufficient house and self-sufficient. Self-reliance. And that kind of blinded me to something that I was very late in understanding.
The digital era came up and a lot of people around me were very successful in doing things. And I wasn’t participating. Cause I was like, I can’t, I said, I can’t program, I don’t know how to program the way, you know, whatever. And it was Mr. Capor who went on to found Lotus 1 23, which is huge, huge success.
He said, he says, I, I, I just hired, you can hire programmers. I was like, hire programmers. This is of course, you know, Uh, 20 years ago, it was like 30 years ago. Really. It was like, you don’t have to do, you can be a high tech company and not know how to program. You can just hire that out. So the piece of advice that took me a long time to, to understand was the only thing that scarcity in this universe, your time, my time.
That’s the only thing that no amount of money, the billionaires have no more time in a day than I do. Nothing they can do to increase it. So that is the most valuable thing that we have. And if I can get somebody else to work on my project to give their time to mine, that is like the best bargain in the entire world.
Okay. And so the idea of like outsourcing and trying to hire others to me has like switched completely from like I. I wouldn’t say embarrassment, but
I’m one resource that Isce, which is.
I have a friend, a very successful friend, who spends a lot of money doing that. He spends a lot of money making sure that he’s able to spend more or less every minute of every day doing exactly what he wants to do and not doing any, anything he doesn’t want to do. So, I mean, everything you could imagine is delegated that he might not want to do, and I get it.
I mean, it’s a very attractive lifestyle. It’s expensive, but.
It’s your scarcity and, and by the way, there are things that maybe some people would hire other people to do that actually, that you might like to do just because they’re a roach, just because they seem to be manual or whatever. There are many jobs that are kind of meditative and enjoyable in the craft sense of like just humble.
I like doing it.
Gardening, for example. Some people really love it. I can’t say I do, but some people really do,
right? And so spending the time in the garden, they could hire a gardener, but. No, this is an enjoyment thing, but it’s more important as, as we were saying, is, is what you choose. What you find rewards you, and if he doesn’t, then that is the precious resource that you want to, to use better than money.
I think along with time, probably also worth mentioning health, right? Is something that, what is wealth without health, right?
Exactly. Yeah. And I’m not a health expert, so I have minimal amount of health advice in the book. The one thing I have learned that I did say was, for me it’s about movement plus variety, just.
That movement and to me is almost a definition of health is there’s movements of some of everything from nutrients to muscles to everything else, and there’s variety and that where you like life itself, you want to be exercising all the possible possibilities that are offered and that means you keep changing and testing and exploring.
Like most things, it’s the boring basics that provide the most benefits. It’s the stuff our moms would tell us, eat some plants and get enough sleep. Go move your body around. Uh, and then as you get older, don’t drink too much alcohol. Don’t smoke cigarettes. Like, it’s really not that complicated. I’ve worked with tens of thousands of people over the years and the biggest thing I see with the people I have helped the most is they’re often.
Missing just one crucial piece of the puzzle. And if you are having trouble reaching your fitness goals as quickly as you’d like, I’m gonna guess it is the same thing with you. You are probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s. Something you’re not doing right, and that is what is giving you most of the grief.
Maybe it’s your calories, maybe it’s your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s food choices. Maybe you are not progressively overloading your muscles and whatever it is. Here’s what’s important. Once you identify that one thing. Once you figure it out, that’s when everything finally clicks.
That’s when you start making serious progress. It’s kind of like typing in your password to log into your computer. You can have all the letters, numbers, and symbols write. Except just one. And what happens? You can’t log in, right? But as soon as you get that last remaining character, right, voila, you’re in business.
And I bet the same can be said about the body you really want. You are probably just one major shift, one important insight, one powerful new behavior away from Easy Street. And that’s why I offer v i p one-on-one coaching where my team and I can help you do exactly that. This is high level coaching where we look at everything you’re doing and we help you figure out that one thing that is missing for you.
And it can be a couple of things too. That’s fine. There’s no extra charge for that. But once we figure it out, that’s when you start making real progress. That’s when you start looking better and feeling better. So if you’re ready to make more progress in the next three months than maybe you did in the last three years, and yes, that has happened for many of our clients.
Head on over to Muscle For Life Show slash vip, that’s Muscle Life Show slash vip, and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way, Is not a high pressure sales call. It’s just a friendly chat where we get to learn about you and your goals and your lifestyle, and then determine whether our program is right for you.
Because sometimes we do speak with people who just aren’t a good fit for our service, but we almost always have other experts and other resources to refer those people to. So, If you are still listening to me and you are even slightly interested, go schedule your free consultation. Call now at Muscle for Life Show slash vip.
I I wanted to talk to you about ai. Given your work and who you are, the context can be, Whatever you find most interesting, but maybe talk a bit about productivity and relating to creative work. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on where this is and where you think it’s going in the future. And you know, some people are saying this is going to revolutionize any sort of information, work, anything that requires processing information, thinking about things.
And then you have other people who maybe are dismissing chat G P T as a glorified spell checker.
So I think there is a sense in which there’s, in the short term some over-hyping of it, but I think over the long term it is un still under hyped. I think AI and I always insist on using plurals cuz there’s gonna be many, many, many, many varieties of, there’s not a singular thing, will impact almost everything we do over the long term.
Over the short term. I think the one thing you don’t have to worry about, The least problematic of them is, is worry about employment. It will affect most jobs, but it’s not gonna eliminate most jobs. It’s gonna change the tasks that you do. Having the skill of working with ais will increasingly become important.
Just like someone, you’re applying for a job in a office and you’re, if you have. You know, knowing how to use PowerPoint and knowing how to use all the other softwares is gonna be a plus. Increasingly, it’ll be like being able to work with the ais will just be considered an essential skill. There’ll be people who are much, much better than others, and that’s because they will spend a thousand hours or more working with them.
So it, it will pay to become familiar with them, but it’s, you don’t have to worry about it taking over. There’s very few jobs. Uh, So far that have actually been totally impacted by it. Most of ’em in the creative sense are, they’re an additional tool and I think the stance that you want to imagine that we’re headed towards is, is a partnership.
These are partners, teammates, coworkers, co-pilots, interns, assistants, team member and partner is a pretty high level for some of them and other interns and assistants and help meet or lower level, but that whole range of working with them. For the most part, there will be jobs and things that they do by themselves and can do that.
We don’t want to do picking lettuce and robots who, what human should be doing that. There’s not a human, A lot of these jobs should not be saved. Right. Cash register, counting money is like, no, that’s not a job that a human should be doing. So there are, there are a number of things that could and should go away, but most of the time the employment part is not what I would.
Be concerned about there. There all will be some problems with AI and those problems. We can only go so far thinking about them. We don’t even know what a, our own intelligence is. We d certainly don’t even know what AI is or means or will do, and the only way we’re gonna figure out these things, it’s not by thinking about them somewhere, but by actually using them.
I preach the gospel of use using them. Gives you access and, and opinion about it based on evidence. And then it’s the only way we get to steer them collectively because we don’t actually know what they’re really good for. We don’t actually know what they’re bad for yet. We can, and, and we’re starting to get a little bit of evidence in terms of how helpful they can be, but it’s like chat jbt.
It’s been around months, you know? I don’t know. A hundred days. It’s just like crazy to imagine that we were gonna know what it is. It’s like a baby. What’s the baby good for? Do we wanna regulate the baby right now? Well, you gotta have a little bit more evidence, a little bit more data before we start doing that.
And so my suggestion to anybody is start using these three things as much as you can. Test them, try them out. Apply them if you can. Be creative with them because that is, that’s by far the best and really kind of the only thing we can do right now. And if you’re still worried after using them, okay. But most people, once they begin to see, they’ll see the limits that they have currently right now.
Where are we gonna go in the future? It’s unclear. But I think we should base our policies on evidence of actually what has happened rather than what we could imagine, because it is a million times easier to imagine the things that go wrong. That’s just entropy. It’s so much harder to see how things go, right?
And so therefore, when people think about it, they think about all the things that go wrong, and there’s a little bit of kind of fear based, and we do stupid things when people do things outta fear.
How important do you think it is for people who do any type of information work? And so I would, I would also include creatives of any kind to start using these tools now.
And the reason I ask that is this is a couple of friends who are, have spent a lot of time already with the, with, uh, some of these tools. And I could foresee a scenario where skilled. Information workers, again, including creatives who are also skilled at using ai, are going to be able to outproduce people, even skilled, who are not using the AI by an order of magnitude in both quantity and quality. Do you agree with that?
I do. I, I, I think there will be, You’ll be hired based on how your ability to work with these ais and understanding how they work
or, or maybe just the output. Like they don’t even care exactly how you get there, but you can produce this much stuff at this quality and the person without the ai, the best they can do is this much stuff at this quality.
So it’s like who gets the job?
Yeah. Yeah, the programmers, we, we know from studies already that programmers using, um, the AI co-pilots and stuff have like 52% more productive, and writers are like 36% more productive of a certain kind. So already that’s already, and so, yes, the answer is, is that that will become something.
And the fact that, that there’s free versions of that right now means that, you know, Multiple languages that anybody in the world will have. AC will have some access to this and they can partake. And by the way, that’s one of the things that’s coming that will. It could be worrisome, it could be beautiful, is that there’s a real time language translation.
So real time meaning like right now, you could be, you know, Bosnian or you could be Malaysian and you could be talking in your local language, and I could be talking in English and we could be having a conversation just like this in our voices, right? That means that there are people in the world who are incredibly gifted, who their English isn’t that good.
They’re gifted in programming, but not in languages and. With the Universal Language Translation, they’re now able to participate in the global economy in a real way. So that’s maybe competition for those who think, well, I speak English, I have an advantage. Well, that may be going away. And that’s just again, a boon for those around the world whose English is not their native language.
So there’s a great leveling. About to happen because of that. And so it’s good new bad news depending on whether you’re resting on your English abilities or not. And so, um, I think that’s get involved use it. Now, here’s the thing is it’s okay for us to drop or stop using or not liking or not adopting every technology.
We have no obligation to, but you do kind of have a obligation. To use it if you wanna have an opinion about it. Okay. And it’s probably a good idea to try something so you can decide. So I don’t expect that everybody is gonna kinda just rush out and start using these all the time. And that’s what it is, because that’s just not how we are built.
And by the way, there are gonna be very different kinds with different personalities and different ways to suit how people work. And so the other thing I would say is, Not just try it, but try it every now and then because these tools are changing very fast. And what did not work, it’s like, you know when the internet was coming along, when the first years before we had the graphical user interface, a lot of people bounced off it because you had to type and you had to know a little bit of programming.
But then when the graphical user interface came along, everybody could try it again and now it would work for them. So we’re gonna see the same kind of thing where if it doesn’t hit you or strike you or resonate with you at first, Come back later and try it again.
That’s been my experience with it. I wasn’t impressed with it and I didn’t really start to see the potential until I actually seriously started to integrate it into my workflow and start using it, uh, as something more than just a glorified spell checker, which it’s good at.
But it’s also very good at many other things, and especially GPT fours would’ve been using, Bard is getting better too, but with writing, um, with language stuff, GT four. It’s actually impressive, like it can do some pretty impressive things.
A lot of these are called generative models cuz they can generate things, but what they’re actually really the best at is synthesis.
Synthesis, meaning they can summarize, they can make bullet points, they can distill, but they can also integrate things that seem to be very disparate and unconnected or unrelated. They can take two spreadsheets that have completely different. Columns like apples and oranges and then they can make something, bring them together in a way that was possible for humans, but a lot of work for us to do and they can do it very fast.
And so synthesis of, of synthesizing a bunch of different reports, a bunch of different directions to together and into some kind of unification overarching structure. They’re very good at that. And that is something again, that we do only with a lot of effort. And that’s where they’re really good. Uh,
I’ve seen quite a bit of that already.
Using it for research, for taking large amounts of information and gleaning insights. Even accessing, doing research on, on a topic and telling it that I want it to restrict. Its, uh, I want to base its answers only on. These five sources of information, what professional successful experts have actually written or said, credible research and reporting on what these people have said or done, scientific research, blah, blah, blah.
And then working within those constraints and having a conversation now with this software that then produces ultimately, let’s say, a bullet point list of things with, with sources cited. So, you know, I was, for writing, I was doing this right. And so, oh well, uh, in a 1953 interview with. The Paris Review, Ernest Hemingway said quote, blah, blah, blah.
And that’s why, you know, there’s one of my sources for this first bullet point. And so with even just that alone, I’ve been able to condense. I mean, in one case I came out with. 10,000 words, probably some like specific examples. I mean, this could, this was almost like a little standalone book, highly tailored to exactly what I wanted.
Took me maybe two hours, and I’m not a, I wouldn’t consider myself a G P T expert, but manually it would’ve taken me, I don’t know it at least a hundred hours, and unless I happened to just stumble across like the right two or three books that just happened to do it all for me.
So I call these current versions universal personal interns because the thing like say with the Hemingway quote is you want to check their work.
You have to check their work because they have been engineered to be to optimize plausibility rather than accuracy. They’re made to say things that a kind of an average human would say, not that they had to be true, just that they had to be kind of plausible. So they’re interns, so you have to kind of check their work.
But having said that, lots of times it’s perfectly correct and that gives you such a, a foundation to start on and to go and to evolve and to edit and to make more you. And the other thing you said, you said two things that are important. One was that, that it’s conversational and that is the big bang that we’ve seen.
That’s the equivalent of what happened with the web coming onto the internet. Was the graphical user interface suddenly made it accessible to your mom. Well, We have the conversational user interface, which is what these AI now and conversation is. So, such a human gesture. Such a human rhythm. So much of how we operate, we’re having a conversation and like if you’re working with somebody, it’s like, what, what did you mean by that?
Or, I don’t understand that. Or can you clarify that or, no, that’s not what I meant. And so you, you’re going back and forth and it’s not just speech recognition, it’s having the. The internal logic or the structure of a conversation. And that’s been the big bang that um, now we have a conversational interface, which we can apply to lots of things, but particularly to Theis that makes them so that your mom can use them.
So, so I think is, Really important. And the other trick that you did was a trick that the people who are using these a lot have realized it’s the trick for working with the current versions of these chat bots, which is that you want to ask it to answer, not like as the average human, but as an expert.
Pretend you’re the expert, pretend you, uh, you know, think like an expert here, and give me the expert opinion rather than just what the average human says.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Defining a role is that’s now, I mean, they verified that in papers that that improves the quality of the answers. And then, yeah, I’ve been putting together a kind of a template and some of these different parameters that seem to be worthwhile in some cases, you see these prompts that are very long and convoluted and kind of unscientific in how they even put all these things together.
But in just continuing to educate myself, they’re like, Defining a role, like defining the input. If you, for example, if you want it to specifically focus on scientific research, you want to tell it that, and it will do that. And sometimes it hallucinates you need to check. But speaking to the, the conversational style and also just one other observation we can move on, is that, It seems to me so far that the great outputs from, I’ve mostly used Bard and GT four, but getting great outputs requires good to great inputs.
Uh, it requires thinking of the right questions. It requires in the cases I’ve used it, uh, already a foundational understanding of what I’m talking about and what I’m getting at. So I can be very specific about things. And so essentially what I’ve seen is that. People who have dismissed it, that I’ve spoken with, and I’ve asked them a little bit about how they’ve tried to go about using it.
They’ve gone about it in a not very intelligent way. Not that they’re stupid people, but just the way they went about it was not very bright and the outcomes were not very bright.
And also, by the way, if you wanted to do mean and stupid things, you can force these to do mean stupid things by, by basically fooling it or you know, tricking it into these things.
So you kind of get from it. What you put into it, and by the way, they have actually shown with some studies that if you’re polite to the ai, it actually produces better stuff.
I now, I start saying please, before I was like, why are people saying, is this just like a human thing? We we’re just so, like, that’s why are people saying please and thank you.
And then I realize, oh no, that actually improves the session
because they’ve been trained on, on all the human behavior in the world. So they’re, they’re sensitive to it. So that brings it back to, to my book, the excellent advice for living about you can never be too kind, really, basically, which apparently is true for other things besides humans and.
I wanna just, you were talking about, I’m trying to think of, um, things that might be of useful to your audience, but like, uh, one of the things I’ve observed about young people, two things. One is if you can all swing and try and work in an area where there’s not a word for what it is that you’re doing, this goes back to this kind of idea of like aiming for your own.
Path. And if that’s one way to kind of get there is work on something that takes a half an hour or 15 minutes to explain to your mom what it is that you do. That’s a good sign that you’re in a place where a breakthrough may happen. Where if something new that’s never occurred before, where you can really get ahead as you go further, and where there’s not so much competition.
And the second thing would be if you have. The time to make the time. If you have the ability, if you have the resources, spend a bunch of time when you’re young doing something that looks nothing like success, that that looks crazy, weird, outlawed, unprofitable, strange, hard to explain, weird, memorable, risky, dangerous, all those things, but it looks nothing like success because that is going to then later on serve you as a.
Muse as a foundation, as a touchstone because your success is, should not be someone else’s definition. You kind of want to invent your own new definition of success. And if you’re just trying to imitate the accountant, that’s a defined path that’s occupied by many people. It’s unlikely to really suit you.
The thing that suits you most likely is gonna something where you’re gonna have to invent a new definition of success, and it should be more than money.
And practically speaking, what? Might some of those things look like you can speak in your own life or just other people, you know, or
15 years ago, there were people that I met who were involved in this thing.
There was, they were saying it’s kind of like radio, but it’s not really radio, like an interview like for a magazine, but it audible and it’s kind of like a documentary, but it’s in just sound and there were podcasting. Right now it’s. Kind of obvious to everybody. We have a name for it, but then there was hardly a name for what it was that you’re doing.
And now of course, you know there are people who are, you know, the guy who’s doing books about how to prompt, prompt engineers. And it’s like when, you know what, what is that? Three spots on LinkedIn for a prompt engineer starting at $200,000 a year. Okay, so what’s that? Okay, well takes some time to kinda explain what it is.
That’s a really great sign. And there’s this. Whole infinite numbers of other possible things, strange occupations and tasks that people could get into, and they will become something on later on when the language catches up to us. And so, you know, maybe you are, you know, trying to, you’re doing something with genes or, um, like, you know, genetic counseling is of course a thing now.
It wasn’t long ago, but you could be working with. You know, like I, again, some of these things are now established occupations, but I have friends whose daughter was doing, um, horse therapy, not the therapy to the horses, but using horses as therapy for humans. There,
there are also are therapists for horses too.
I know this because my wife is into whining horses and I live in an equestrian community, so, Whatever people can spend money on for their horses, they, they figured out they’re spending money.
There will be AI for horses, I guess
probably, yeah, somebody, somebody should start working on that because equestrians, if you didn’t know, they are absolutely obsessed with this activity and it is just an expensive hobby.
That’s all it is.
Yeah. Well, There might be, I’m sure there’s people working on now on language translation from horses to humans. That without a doubt, there’s somebody working on that right now. So that doesn’t have a name. That may be a place for you. I don’t know. But that’s, it’s a lifelong, uh, journey to find out what it is that you are the only with.
Only for and not just the best. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, Mike. I really enjoy this. It was a lot of fun.
Yeah. Thanks again for your time and again, the book is excellent Advice for Living. There it is. For everybody
living. Yes, there it is. And it’s little. It’s easy to read.
Daily reader style, which I actually am working on.
It’s a health and fitness focus, but same format and just cuz I like that format, it’s popular.
Yeah. Well I wish you the best success in that.
Thank you. And thank you again for your time. Sure thing. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
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Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything. My, myself, I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.