[02-22-17] The WGAN Morning News
On This Episode…
Joined Ken and Matt to talk more about why Google self-driving car employees quit. The gig could have been too good for them, that they actually founded self-driving companies of their own.
Also, with the rise of autonomous technology, Google’s very own AI (OwnMind) started thinking for its own, that it became highly aggressive in stressful situations. Could this be the same future for government departments, where robots are replacing human employees in their jobs?
- Google’s new AI has learned to become ‘highly aggressive’ in stressful situations
- Engineers on Google’s self-driving car project were paid so much that they quit
- More stories and tech updates
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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing date: 02/22/2017
Google Artificial Intelligence and Self Driving Cars
Matt Gagnon: We are very happy to be joined by Craig Peterson, our tech guru, as we are every Wednesday at this time. How are you this morning Craig?
Craig Peterson: Hey good morning. Doing really well.
Ken Altshuler: So Craig, let’s start up talking about self-driving cars. Are we gonna have self-driving cars? And is Google, I mean, did the Google engineers quit because it was too good of a gig for them?
Craig: Yeah, this is an interesting story here Ken. Yeah, we’re gonna have self-driving cars. Probably the very first thing we’re going to see on the roads are self-driving trucks. You know, the big rigs out there. And Google knows it. Google knows, Hey listen. This is a great opportunity. In fact everybody does. Apple’s trying to get into the car business here. Every major manufacturers in the autonomous car business. So what Google did, they decided we’ve got to get the best and the brightest and we’ve got to retain them if we’re gonna be able to compete out there in the industry. So what they ended up doing is some of their initial employees, some of the early employees, is they gave them an incentive plan that would help them stick around. Now, you know, you guys probably get what? You know. 30. 50. A hundred percent in bonuses?
Ken: Ah yes, at least. I get 200%. I don’t know about Matt.
Matt: They pay you?
Craig: Well, Google, they ended up doing is they decided that they would use a multiplier for their salaries and their benefits. Now, that is kind of a different way of doing things. You know Google is always kind of innovative. But at least one of these staffers that was interviewed said that they ended up with the multiplier of 16 to their bonuses. And it’s pretty incredible when you think about it because they were able to get so much money that some of these staffers quit Google and went directly into competition with Google. And Google said forget it. We’re not going to make these new cars. We’re not gonna be in the autonomous car manufacturing business. They spun it off into a company called Waymo. And then they started competing with some of their former employees who got together in fact with different Tesla employees. One of these guys…
Matt: Did these employees not sign any, like, non-competing agreements or something?
Craig: Isn’t it crazy? You know, you’d think the talked to a lawyer or something first before they did this. But no. They were able to do it. You’ve got Chris Urmson, co-founded this startup with Sterling Anderson, he is the guy from Tesla. Chris is from Google. They founded a self-driving truck company called Otto. Uber purchased Otto last year. And then another founder came out with another Google guy, they founded a company called Argo AI. They just received a billion dollar investment from Ford last week. So we’ve got Google losing about a billion dollars on this whole autonomous car
thing. They are years away before seeing any money from their investments in Waymo. And they’re paying these guys millions of dollars as employees.
Matt: I can’t understand why they set this thing up to be that… I mean…
Craig: Isn’t that crazy?
Matt: Coz it’s their own fault, right? I mean they set these employees up this way. I mean, non-competes, huge bonuses. I mean, they’re asking for this to happen, weren’t they?
Craig: It really is. And, you know, again this is a bit of a lesson for all of us, right? To employee people. The lesson is, yeah, you wanna make sure your employees comfortable, but at some point you’re just setting yourself up for some major, major problems. You know I’m sure Google would’ve love to have gotten that billion dollar investment from Ford instead of one of their ex-employees. You know. Or Otto being purchased by Uber. That was another huge, huge purchase out there. Again Google, now called Alphabet, right?
Matt: Yeah, I’m never gonna call it that by the way. It’s not gonna happen.
Craig: They should really have benefitted from. Yeah that’s kind of a weird name, I don’t know.
Ken: Why would they change it?
Matt: Because they didn’t want it to be just about Google. They wanted a suite of products. It’s ridiculous. It’s stupid. I’m never gonna stop calling Google. So Craig…
Craig: You know that suite Matt? That suite by the way, they’ve spent almost 4 million dollars on all of these other little failed projects. When you talk about…
Matt: Oh yeah, they were rather famous. Remember Google Buzz?
Ken: No I don’t actually.
Craig: Google Glasses.
Matt: Yeah, Google Glasses. Which was a big thing.
Ken: That I know of.
Matt: Yeah, I know. But that was never gonna take off. So Craig, I’m curious, you know we’re talking about these self-driving cars and you know the first thing I was thinking about when we were talking about trucks being the first one, obviously it’s the utility of, you know, not having someone falling asleep behind the wheel and being able to do more trips and not being subjected to a lot of the problems that you can have with human beings driving these trucks but at the same time I’m thinking of the human beings driving the trucks. Like they’re not gonna have jobs or their jobs are not gonna just be the ride along to make sure nobody like hijacks the truck or something. I don’t know what are you gonna do with humans now. And that sort of dovetails into another discussion we can have about government workers as well being replaced by robots. I mean, are we all going to be replaced by robots or AIs, I guess my question.
Craig: Well, a quick shout out to our robot overlords.
Matt: Isn’t this how Skynet got started?
Craig: Well yeah. That’s the problem. Well there’s another one too. Google has this new artificial intelligence. I was talking about this on my daily podcast yesterday. And this new AI that Google has come out with, they’ve done a few things with. First of all, it’s absolutely amazing. They are using it to synthesize voice. And you know if you listen to synthesized voice, it’s typically just kind of chopped up and you can tell it’s a computer speaking. Google’s new AI has been teaching itself how to speak. And it speaks English with no accent, you know, American English, with intonations. With everything. It’s absolutely amazing. So these AIs are going crazy.
Matt: Does that not scare you a little bit?
Craig: They’re gonna take over. They really are. And you mentioned government workers here. There’s a study that just came out of the UK. And they looked at these various jobs, government jobs, from the lowest of low, paper shufflers, to the highest. And they found that there’s only 20% of the jobs in the government, in the UK. So it’s gonna be a little different here. We’re maybe closer to a hundred, you know. What do you think? And 20% of the jobs are actually cognitive jobs. In other words, what the study says is about 80% of all British government workers could be replaced by robots. And that would save, by the way…
Matt: I guess that’s one way of limiting government. Right?
Craig: It is, frankly, right? It just continues to grow.
Matt: You don’t have to pay little robot guy that’s doing the work for you, right?
Craig: Yeah. Well that’s an 8 billion dollar savings in the UK. But here’s what I got concerned about Matt, when you’re talking about this, is that it’s already, you know the incentive of government is to grow, right? And there’s no particular incentive to grow. Someone always wants a new law regulation rule right? Because it’s gonna help someone. It’s just constant growth. Well what happens when AIs are running government? Pushing the paperwork as it were. What’s the incentive? You don’t even have to hire anyone, right? You could just increase government regulations more and more and more. So, I look at this as being somewhat concerning on every front, right? If this is gonna happen we’re gonna lose a lot of jobs. Some of the first jobs we’re gonna lose are truck drivers unfortunately. And you know, you look back a hundred years, well actually 150 years, there were 7 technologies that were really growing. And one of the jobs that was lost was teamsters, right? We no longer had people who were driving teams of horses. Somehow, they found new jobs. And I look at it and say we’ve got this new technology. It’s going to create new opportunities for us but we are gonna have to re-tool. We’re gonna have to re-tool.
Matt: I’m curious with those new opportunities are. I mean that’s a lot of jobs being taken out. Government jobs. Truck driver jobs. Taxi drivers.
Matt: Yeah, Ubers.
Craig: We’re gonna end up with all kinds of people who are on government payrolls, more or less. President Nixon tried something out. I don’t know if you guys were aware of this but many years ago where he said, instead of having this huge bureaucracy that’s trying to figure out who deserves how much money. And if they’re spending it properly when it comes to welfare type systems. We’re just gonna cut people checks. And right now today, there’s two different countries in the world that are doing exactly that.
Matt: A guaranteed minimum income. Yeah that’s…
Craig: You know that’s the answer that the leftist come out with. We’ll just have government…
Matt: Well, weirdly the libertarians kinda like that too. Not to get into a philosophical conversation, but there’s…
Craig: It’s difficult. No, no. it’s a difficult problem right? There is no good answer. We just… we hope that there will be new opportunities and there will be. The question is will people be able to rise up to those opportunities? It’s kinda like Star Trek, we have this wonderful opportunity to maybe expand ourselves. Maybe go out and have the artists that they’ve talked about before. You know, do all these different things. We’ll see this. And guys, this is gonna hit in 5 years. 10 years. We’re gonna start seeing massive job losses. In 20 years, we will not recognize today.
Ken: I was just gonna play that.
Matt: If you had mentioned Star Trek that was programmed…
Ken: Craig Peterson joining us as he does every Wednesday at 7:38. You can always go to http://CraigPeterson.com and get his newsletters. A chockfull.
Matt: That’s one word ladies and gentlemen. Chockfull.
Ken: A chockfull of information. Craig thanks for joining us. We’ll talk to you next Tuesday.
Craig: Gentlemen take care.