You probably don’t have a ton of infrastructure. And the idea that you need a credit card to establish credit is on its face just absurd. Not only can you not get a credit card, but there’s no bank.  

David Yakobovitch

This is HumAIn, a weekly podcast focused on bridging the gap between humans and machines in this age of acceleration.My name is David Yakobovitch and on this podcast, I interview experts in sociology, psychology, artificial intelligence researchers on consumer facing products. A consumer-facing companies to help audiences better understand AI and its many capabilities. If you like the show, remember to subscribe and leave a review. 

This is David Yakobovitch from the HumAIn Podcast. We live in challenging times with complex financial markets. Lex Sokolin joins us from the UK to share how you can be a part of the new economy. How can you make investment decisions driven around machine and human economies? How real is the debate around privacy across America, Europe, and China? Is capitalism dead as we know it? Learn all this and more, on today’s episode of HumAIn. Tune in now.

Welcome back to the HumAIn Podcast where we’re discussing how to bridge the gap between humans and machines in the fourth industrial revolution.  Today our guest is Lex Sokolin¹, who is an expert in financial, entrepreneurship advisory, robo advisors, taking decentralization into the new economy and is joining us from the United Kingdom. Thanks for being here, Lex. 

Lex Sokolin

Thanks for having me. 

David Yakobovitch

It’s 2019 and we’re halfway into it. Almost it feels, and there’s so many new projects happening and you’ve been a part of a lot of tech. What do you see as some of the new trends going on in your industries? 

Lex Sokolin

Isn’t it amazing that it is 2019? It sounds so futuristic to be in this year. If you look at most of the 1980s action movies by 2019 the world’s either destroyed or were levitating. Maybe it kind of sucks that we haven’t gotten there but we do have a lot of artificial intelligence in our economy.

Everything from the very first time you touch the internet through Google, to putting a filter on Snapchat interface, all the way through to interacting with like financial products broadly. So banking, investing, lending, insurance, all of that stuff that used to be intermediated by human beings massively targeted by artificial intelligence companies now. So happy to open that up, but I’m seeing symptoms for AI and finance  everywhere from the consumer to the portfolio manager. 

David Yakobovitch

There’s a lot of great products that consumers can look at in finance. Here in the United States some of these big products are Robin Hood with the trading and the automation. You have Chime this new online bank to have these interest rates and then you even have apps maybe in that robo space where you invest so many dollars a month and it creates a self-directed portfolio. The financial markets are very quickly decentralizing and very quickly becoming an app economy. You’ve been a part of this. What do you find most fascinating about the change of wealth with all this technology?

Lex Sokolin

Technology is an interesting catch all cause really it’s a word that reflects the tools that we as human beings have to be effective. When we use sticks and fire we use technology, when we invent languages we have technology, when we do physics and math that’s technology. 

In the last decade, what we’ve really seen is the digitization of all the industries from media to retail to now finance and healthcare, and more broadly to like the core of society as a whole. Symptoms of the ladder would be propaganda bots being able to influence elections that is technology used for kind of a civic purpose. In finance you’ve had about 20 years of automation and the automation is shifting from kind of top down defined automation. 

You used to fill out a piece of paper for opening an account, and now you can key some things into your phone, or you can take a picture of your passport to open an account. And that is really straightforward rules-based deterministic kind of replacements of  a workflow with a couple of data points by a software version of the same thing. The other version of automation, which is more threatening and more meaningful and kind of fundamental, is machine learning on top of large data sets. 

This is super buzzy and people say these things and don’t really mean anything when they say it. But this is the truth where all of the services that used to be physical and terrestrial now have digital chassis that create data exhaust. Anytime we’re going to a site that’s captured, anytime we sign anything that’s captured, how we move our mouse on a robo-advisor site is captured, how we put in credit card information, the speed between the keystrokes,  is captured. 

All that data exhausts can then be used to power decision-making, and you can get thousands and thousands of data points for credit decisions, lending decisions, insurance decisions, investment decisions that you never just would have had in the past. I look at some of the folks that you mentioned; those companies are definitely innovating on the way that clients interact with financial products. It’s having it in your pocket is definitely cool and interesting and fast but the next step after that is using new types of this data exhaust to take human judgment and remove the human from it and have it run kind of on autopilot and that does a lot of things that are unanticipated. 

The very first thing is, it just makes it way cheaper to manufacture a financial product and that’s the second step to making the product more accessible. So it’s not just that you can get a bank account at a regular bank easier. It can be done on the fly on your phone by a thin algorithm that just knows a little bit about you. And then not to go totally to the moon, but you can split the stuff out and the next step if you’re doing it in such a lightweight manner, maybe you can post it on a decentralized network and then you can have communities in a real peer-to-peer fashion and fulfill some of the promise of what the early internet pioneers had imagined. 

David Yakobovitch

Translating that for the consumers we’re moving in that direction. Today we’re seeing all these digital apps where your data exhaust has allowed you to have these apps in your phone, your mobile device, you’ve been able to use new technologies at the banks at your workplace and where you live. But the consumer hasn’t necessarily benefited that much from using them other than having an easier accessible way to use these apps. The question is, what’s next and how do consumers take back their rights or take back their privacy or take back their wealth? And it sounds like some of the work you’re doing in the decentralized space could lead to that and wanting to hear your thought leadership there.

Lex Sokolin

The Chinese examples are really mind-bending, especially for Americans who are so used to the segregation between media technology and finance. So let’s say you are living in a rural community, there is no bank or bank branch. You probably don’t have a ton of infrastructure. And the idea that you need a credit card to establish credit is just absurd. Not only can you not get a credit card, but there’s no bank. And if there were a bank, there’s no information based on which they could make a decision. So you get a mobile app on your phone because phones are more distributed than banking services and  that mobile app is supposedly a private company that lets you message and buy stuff on the mobile web.

But realistically it is a government app that tracks all your interactions and it tracks your shopping behavior,  it tracks your messaging behavior, it tracts whether you play video games or if you’re studying, it tracks your health, it tracks your grades if you’re in school. And so this kind of third party information for a financial,that’s actually used to underwrite your credit decision. What’s a credit decision?

Let’s say you’re a kid from this rural community and you go to university,you’re accepted.  You don’t have any money, so you can’t buy any books so you go to the bookstore to buy your textbooks. How do you buy your textbooks? You buy them on credits. How has that credit decision been made? You scan your messaging app and the messaging app knows if you’ve been naughty or nice and that’s called the social credit score. So that’s an example and all this stuff is machine learning based. 

800 million or so users in China power  the engine for the algorithmic decision making there. So that’s an example of something like a financial product, like a credit product being made available on the data exhaust that an American bank would literally have no idea and honestly failed to do anything with when the U.S had the lead on this technology 10 years ago.

That’s point number one, point number two is the sort of decentralization direction. The last three years have been challenging and one of them has been just kind of the realization of the price that we paid for free services. 

It’s 2002 and it’s cool to pirate music and you get it all on your iPhone.

And it’s great. But you look at the music labels who are saying buy CDs and you think of them as dinosaurs. We’ve had a generation trained on this idea that the internet is free. And of course it’s not free. It’s just that you’re paying a price you don’t know about and now we figured out what that price is.

That price is that essentially we don’t get to make our own decisions. We get to be educated by machines about what we should purchase, advertising who we should vote for and so on and so forth. That’s a high price because now that we want to kind of  address it, but to address it, you really need to shift this model of consumption for free and become the product. And so I see a lot of solutions coming out of the decentralization space whether it’s your data or whether it’s your money or whether it’s the sort of  tracking of your behavior, or if it’s medical information. All of that stuff goes back into your power, through some version of tokenization and communities.

It’s very interesting to watch. It’s also really difficult to implement and people got burned quite a lot by it, but whether Facebook does it, or whether some crypto project does it almost besides the point, because the general direction is that people will have on their own phones, on their hardware, on their computers, much more control over this data and whether they opted into the services or not.

David Yakobovitch

We call it the crypto or blockchain movement it sounds like from your examples in China with WeChat and financial and this social credit system that there’s to the direction society’s moving. It’s either moving a social credit system or a capitalistic system. And that’s often how Europe and America have defined themselves versus the Eastern Asian countries.

If products that you’re beginning to talk about JP Morgan’s coming out with a coin, Facebook’s coming out with a coin. Are these products that could work theoretically in China? 

Lex Sokolin

It’s a great point and area of discussion, because it’s so tricky. A few symptoms to think about: The first is the space race, the initial space race funded by the government by sovereign powers in the Soviet Union and in the U.S. The internet is funded by the government; it’s a military network. So it’s not the rule that all consumer apps come from the private sector, it’s been the trend in 30 or 40 years of Silicon Valley, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the absolute rule. We can definitely imagine a world where the Chinese, the massive government investment in China and artificial intelligence and blockchain and various frontier technologies. 

That is successful because you deal with the fixed cost of research and development by this massive government spending. And the U.S is fairly disadvantaged there because having an aggressive R and D policy doesn’t seem to be really what the U.S is about these days. The second point is that actually, there’s a lot more similarity between capitalism and dictatorship. Then comes at first glance, right? So you kind of have this view of capitalism as lots of firms competing with products and the best wins and these are entrepreneurs and it’s flexible and all that.

In reality, what happens after a while is that you are in monopolized industries like Google and Facebook or finance Visa, MasterCard, JP Morgan. You have really asymmetrical markets where most of the winnings are controlled by very few players. This is true for professional athletes, right?

A couple of professional athletes make a hundred million bucks and the rest are fine, but they don’t make that money. There’s only one Justin Bieber. This is  The Power Laws happen over and over and over again. So capitalism allows for sort of that selection mechanism to occur but then at the end of it,you’re left with these monoliths and if you’ve ever worked on Wall Street what you find is that they are run like hierarchical  Soviet Union style organizations. 

If you are on a strategy team and what you would think of as a very capitalist investment bank institution, what you’re doing is putting together five-year strategy plans and financial models with targets for your staff to hit. That is both China and the Soviet Union had a lot of five-year plans to hit targets. The management style within the large organizations is very similar like JPM or Facebook trying to go build a product. And China as a whole, trying to build a product. I do both as very top-down processes and it’s tough to imagine sort of an American monopoly or oligopoly competing very successfully within the Chinese borders.

It’s essentially, we’re locked out from that geography but the other direction, is this more like open source, decentralized direction, which is less profit driven and more humanistic.  It’s certainly more idealistic and I’m not espousing the philosophy of the crypto ecosystem. There is a truth to what sharing and open source systems can do and how they can leak around,  large and powerful organizations and the way that media and Twitter, it could leak around Turkey and Egypt and their controls on information in the same way that the tech companies are kind of getting into finance by leaking around and building things at the extremes. 

An open source decentralized version of these products, whether they’re finance or entertainment or any other version of it they can be shared much more easily and they do have censorship resistance. That’s new and interesting, and it’s kind of a final point in that story. People are running Android software on their Google phones, that’s not correct. They’re running Android on all sorts of manufactured phones and Android is the most popular operating system in the world. And of course it’s an open source operating system so there are examples where these open solutions win and succeed. But I don’t think that there’s a very good sense right now for how the decentralized movement will actually do that.

David Yakobovitch

I get a sense from what you’re sharing and as an aha moment for me is that we’re very much moving to a zero marginal cost society. In 2015, Jeremy Rifkin came out with a book by that name, “The zero marginal cost society” about how products in this digital age, costs so much to print and so much to deliver  because you produce the product once and that cost is finite and then it can scale across and be distributed to all users. And whether we’re looking at new financial, robo advisory products, or products that are powered by your social capital, these are all distributed. 

These have very low marginal costs and this is a direction that we’re moving towards. It’s not just a game of the United States versus the European Union or China, but society as a whole and from a macro level. If I’m someone who’s a blue collar worker, I’m trying to think what’s next, right?.How can I manage my capital when America and Europe are at negative  growth or zero growth? And China’s on the Brinks of a recession just in the first few months of 2019, they’ve injected over $300 billion of capital into their economy as well. So, the modes of finance are beginning to change.

Lex Sokolin

There were a couple of stories. One is across all financial services. We should expect pricing to collapse 50%, that’s driven by lower cost manufacturing and lower cost distribution. And it’s happened to every other industry already, starting with music and to retail and up. Investment management costs 25 basis costs a quarter of a percent, rather than one and a half percent moving money costs, a 10th of a percent instead of 6%, internationally right transferwise,and insurance costs similarly down. You pay for insurance when you drive your car, not just because you have a car so all these things are for sure, pulling apart.

These product first companies and reconstituting them at a much lower price point. And it’s sort of, it’s rotating the industry from product first to customer first. And that’s, it’s not an original inside, but it is 90 degrees from what finance is used to doing. I don’t really care that some company manufactures bank accounts. What I care about is that when I’m on Amazon, I can invoke that bank account in order to buy something, but I’m doing 2000 other things at Amazon. So my interest in the bank account is nominal, and is very small. And so the sort of arrogance of the industry about how important these, the manufacturing is something that’s just going to be challenged with economics, degrading over the next decade or two.

That shift from pushing products to being pulled by a consumer is definitely quite painful to the industry now. That means the elimination of jobs. How to think about the balance between the elimination of cost and potentially the elimination of lower skilled jobs versus the gains to the consumer from being able to access the stuff cheaper on demand more easily, is definitely the jury’s still out.

And the thing about automation and finance is that the jobs that are threatened or not just the folks in the branch or that are doing the financial advice or selling insurance.They’re also sort of the mid skill than the higher skilled jobs. And you look at the lawyers who will charge you 1500 bucks an hour. Those guys are in trouble too, because I can get an AI to read 10,000 documents at the same time that one lawyer reads one document. So all of this stuff is going to be seeing massive bites taken out of the value chain, generally speaking, as like an observation on what people do with their time.

That’s a very good thing as a throwback in the 1940s, a computer used to be a human being that sat in a room of 40 other people doing math. Right? So those 40 people are no longer computers. They’ve lost that job. So you could say that’s progress. So the question is,how do you solve for the real damage it does to people’s livelihoods  and how do you solve it, and who has to solve for it? Like whose job is it to make sure that the people that are inevitably going to be fired have a healthy, interesting, fulfilling human existence. In the U.S we’re so confused about the responsibilities and where they fall like why is it? 

I will never understand why it’s the role of your employer, the company you work for. Why do they provide you your health care coverage? Why is your capitalist employer paying for the healthcare of the employees? Why is your capitalist employer  maintaining your retirement. Like if I’m a startup and I’ve got two people and I barely raised any money, I can’t really pay for anybody’s healthcare or for anybody’s retirement or any of the benefits. 

So, it’s a really arbitrary place to put taking care of people  but  it’s kind of the cultural outcome of the U.S, and philosophical structural reasons that that’s where it sits. We have to have a public debate about does the government deal with the structural damage? Do the large employers deal with the structural damage? What about the small employers? They can’t afford to do it in many cases and it’s a little bit depressing to look at the state of our politics and be like, how are we going to deal with what is spectacularly large? Existential question for all of humanity when we can’t stop tweeting at each other.

David Yakobovitch

The bait is a very fascinating one, especially for those in the United States. I’ve actually read up a lot on this and debated this with some colleagues and it’s actually a result of teacher unions. It’s a result of post world war one. It’s the result of hospitals getting together back in the 1920s and 1930s wanting to provide these benefits for a very small population, but then what happened was this bandwagon effect of everyone saying, now we need to provide healthcare benefits and, fast forward into the 2000 it’s state of the art. It’s normal. If you don’t offer healthcare benefits, sorry. I’m not interested in your company.

Lex Sokolin

End of the day, it’s sort of nonsense. It’s a bad game theory, equilibrium where in the prisoner’s dilemma. Neither party can change its position because they’d be worse off but they are both worse off in the situation where they are relative to what if they both moved over.

The employer has no skill or interest in optimizing healthcare costs and to put employees in a position where they can’t take a risk, they can’t start up a company because their family’s now not covered. Is also nonsense. Like if you want to encourage the most innovation and risk-taking by your population and you want to encourage sort of venture capitalism in that way.

Of course being tied, getting the best health care from JP Morgan should not be the incentive that somebody in the technology group there has to think about. So it’s total nonsense. There are better collective places to put healthcare then on the burden on the shoulders of for-profit businesses.

When you start touching things like structural unemployment which could be the result of AI in the trucking industries shortly with things that Uber and Lyft are doing in the taxi industries and increasingly in the services as those, become more automatable.

Structural unemployment is a collective social issue that needs to be dealt with, from a policy perspective by people who understand how the world looks like in 2040. We have a lot of information about what the world looks like in 2040, because we see what is being put together as the infrastructure for that moment. Hopefully that only clarifies over time and private voices like Bezos and Musk and Zuckerberg, who despite all the other stuff that you can fault them for, at least articulated some of the dangers around, rushing into this and just slamming the car against a wall and not preparing for it.

David Yakobovitch

So maybe that’s one way forward. And, we’re still hearing these voices from a lot of Silicon Valley heavyweights. And this year, when a lot of companies IPO, there’ll be a lot of millennial tech workers who will become instant millionaires. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times said this year, that’s going to be over 10,000 new millionaires in the United States once all these companies go public and from a capitalist standpoint, what does that do to society? Does it raise rents? Do people need benefits and the longer, and do they need those benefits in the first place? From a healthcare perspective?

The themes of structural automation, if we’re going down that pathway is there’s many different. Parts of the industry that looks at, with your work at autonomy and autonomous next, you talk about the crypto economy, artificial intelligence robo-advisors and many other fringe themes as well and automation is going to affect everywhere. But how can people best prepare to be a part of that?

I want to launch a startup dominance automate rather than I’m disincentivized to launch a startup because I’m locked into my employer healthcare plan that I can’t leave the company, or I need this benefit. And a lot of that is also perception versus reality. Most people in their twenties, thirties, and forties don’t really need health insurance as it’s sold in America. It’s a little bit over-hyped and over promised. The direction we should consider moving is this decentralized direction where accessibility is offered everywhere. 

One recent story in the news a couple of weeks ago. I wouldn’t have read about it if it wasn’t as a result of a scandal. So the scandal was that the head of the food and drug administration in the United States stepped down and resigned. But not much was shared about why this occurred and I decided to look further into this and found out that in the last 15 years, there’s been all these FDA approved medical devices being used in hospitals like balloons, when you’re expanding a stomach for surgery and other devices to hold up organs that have been malfunctioning.

There’ve been staplers used to serve as a reattaching tissue that gets stuck when they’re being used and it’s mind blowing to think, why would the stapler just get stuck and then cause a life-threatening issue. But the thing is these examples I’m sharing here have been hidden from the public. They’re not accessible. It’s locked away behind lawsuits and documents and by privilege of the government. My hope and love to hear some of your insights there, given your experience in both business and legal. What’s a better path forward then and where are you seeing? some of that direction.

Lex Sokolin

So a lot of ideas there. What’s a good place to start? In terms of the wealth being created, the trends are unassailable and not. They’re sort of true and boring and the truth that they’re true and boring in the sense that the population, the distribution of wealth and income are getting more unequal and there’s nothing anyone can ever do to stop at the end. That’s just it. There are literally zero actions that will shift that and the reason for it is that the inequality comes from really deeply rooted and unassailable structures of society, which is,  you can model them out in a simulation and this is just what happens, right?

Let’s say you have a simulation, a hundred people come to some geography. They compete for resources at the end of they all have equal stature in the beginning because of a random distribution of events. At the end, some people have a higher distribution of outcomes. Some people have lower distribution of outcomes. Next generation you run again, people of equal ability, but with different sets of resources, such as owning a million dollar home in Palo Alto, or going being prepared for school by going the private route and having SAT prep Versus somebody who doesn’t have access to that.

And it comes from a broken home, right? You rerun that simulation and then you’re going to have the 20, 80 rule repeat again. And so you’ll have inequality in the next generation being increased and you do that over and over and over again. And over time, what you end up with is massive inequality. And so you look at some of the old world countries where the history of wealth inequality, like nobility, goes back Centuries and millennia, and you’re going to have embedded social castes that are very hard to move in, are inflexible. 

The U.S is a very young country. And we haven’t fossilized in that way yet but it’s kind of like the math of what happens when you give everyone equal opportunities, you’ll have different outcomes. So there’s definitely a debate around like correcting for that starting point, which is, even if you take the most extreme view about correcting for people’s starting point. You’re never going to go far enough to get rid of that inequality outcome and so that’s just something now that it’s so public, we have to find a way to live with and to make sure that everyone at the very least has a good meaningful life where they’re fulfilled in their craft.

And don’t really care that Jeff Bezos, like I enjoy using Amazon. I don’t begrudge Bezos having a 120 billion one bid, because I can pay 10 bucks less on toilet paper. It’s fine. There’s an issue around there about coming to terms with it about fulfilling lives, about social infrastructure, whether it’s healthcare or retirement or basic income, or access to services and privacy.

There’s definitely a mental health issue in there as well because,there are elements of our society that create alienation and anger and the internet winds that stuff up as opposed to finding mentally healthy ways to deal with these things. It’s a very challenging bundle.

And these are community policy-based. Questions that are just arising out of the internet age. And the other part about the internet age is that it accentuates inequality through these power laws, so the large tech firms, as we’ve seen, they just trend towards monopoly. The bigger they get, the better they get. That’s different from 50 years ago, you look at some manufacturer of cars or somebody that makes soup, like the bigger they get, the less connected they get to their consumers. The more stuck they get. So some entrepreneurs can come in and disrupt them because they know the customer better.

Google knows the customer better than anyone, because they are bigger than any one. And therefore they have the best returns to scale within machine learning. Like that’s a flip to the basic economics of scaling a firm, bigger, usually means divorced from reality. And it’s not the case with tech first firms. That’s another challenge from the internet age around, how do we think about power laws? You can talk about Teddy Roosevelt doing the trust busting in the beginning of the last century. It’s the beginning of this century and Liz Warren’s out there wanting to bust up the internet monopolies and whether that’s the right or wrong thing as sort of isn’t something necessarily that’s a hard question.

That’s data-driven but it bears asking because the implications of allowing attention to be gathered in that way does filter all the way through. Another example of that, Kylie Jenner just became the youngest billionaire in the fastest time. The way she did it, as she sold lipstick, and like she’s got 700 or 70 million followers across all her platforms and not to disparage being super popular and selling lipstick, this is another example of returns to scale.  Like the built-in audience  of the Kardashians accumulating with interest over time. And then it becomes easier to monetize that by anyone from the clan is another example of like it’s faster than ever before and the returns to asymmetric. But the constructive way to look at it, this is the system that we’re functioning in there is no going back of any kind.

You can’t make the Kardashians unpopular. You can’t put a Google, you can’t remove the search engine. You can’t uninstall everyone’s apps on their phones and you can’t turn off YouTube. So here we are and now the question is, how do we give the people who don’t win the lottery of these games, whether they’re entrepreneurship  or celebrity,  the people who don’t win these lotteries, how do we make sure that they have a meaningful, fulfilling life where they’re practicing a craft that gives them meaning and where they’re in a positive environment. That is the challenge of our generation.

David Yakobovicth

Lex do you have for yourself any mental health tactics that you use to keep yourself at baseline? So you’re constantly reminded that you are living a meaningful and fulfilling life. 

Lex Sokolin

That is such a hard question because it’s a really difficult challenge, especially  for the entrepreneurs or people who are high-performing.That’s actually the wrong benchmark for anybody that seeks self-improvement and compares themselves to others, which is, everyone who has an Instagram account.  It’s really difficult and it’s not difficult like you’re personally failing. It’s difficult in the sense of you’re in a system that manufactures anxiety for you, and I’ll give you an example.

Bloomberg was still the mayor of New York and he wanted to ban a liter of Cola. So if you are super troopers, liter a Cola is like a punchline. You shouldn’t be drinking a liter of Cola is probably bad for you. Don’t do it, drink some water, but if you need to drink a liter of Cola, maybe just get them in normal servings, get like four cups, each one, a quarter of a liter of Cola.

So Bloomberg on his health gig, he was banning cigarette smoking. And he’s like, you shouldn’t be able to buy for three bucks, like a glass with a liter in it  and there was this massive pushback against Bloomberg being like, don’t tell, don’t take away our freedom to choose whatever we want to drink.

If I want to eat this, I want to eat it. If I want to drink a whole leader, a Cola, I want to drink it. And I remember, it’s people who were saying this in large part should  we’re not in good health. They should not have been drinking that much Cola. So the question is how did that person come to hold those super self destructive beliefs? And the reason is they probably live across a Coca Cola advertisement. And see it every single day on their way to work and on their way home. And so there are billions and billions of dollars spent on forming these opinions and preference functions and consumers against any sort of unconsciously.

Not in a way that is self derived from first principles and this happens to all of us all the time,  we are animals, this is how we make we’re social animals. That’s how we make opinions. So, on the one hand you have your personal willpower and on the other hand, you have the 5 billion advertising budget or whatever it is of Coke. And which one wins and it’s not your personal willpower. And so in the same way when you’re on Instagram or Facebook, it’s your personal willpower to stop scrolling and comparing while on the other side of it is about $50 billion worth of advertising spent that goes into paying  MIT PhD scientists to develop a newsfeed to break down your behavioral defenses.

I have pretty low confidence that any of us individually will be able to fight these machines, we can’t. From that perspective, it’s a really hard thing to have a mechanism that allows you to feel healthy and to feel good about your community. I’ve tried different things. I’ve tried different practices.The place to start it is self-awareness and to just call the thing out by its name.

Just be truthful in describing and understanding how you’re living your life and what it is that you’re doing. So you can do the destructive thing, but at least don’t tell yourself you’re not, that’s step one. Admit you’re an addict. 

And one practice that helps with that as journaling. So if you’re writing every week and just kind of putting down your emotions, that’s the way to flush your emotions out and have them be on paper and true. You don’t need to share that that’s for you to think about. Number two, for me, I have a, like a visual arts practice. So I do a lot of drawing and design  and that’s kind of my outlet for putting the difficulties and the frustrations into a forum that’s  productive. And then number three, it’s family and friends. Maybe that should be number one,  but again, life is super complicated, but people are actually very simple. Just watching any other animals socialize in a hierarchy, so figure out a way to be surrounded by people that respect you and that can be there emotionally.

And with whom you can have a relationship based on sort of that mutual giving, and that’s just the launchpad for building. More health, whether that’s yoga or a fitness practice, or whether that’s gratitude for helping others, those are like the advanced techniques that I’m still striving for. Just the basics is knowing what’s going on, have some sort of outlet and surround yourself with people who are real.

David Yakobovicth

Those are all really great tips for our audiences. We’re moving into this accelerated world of crypto of AI, of automation. We could say, all those tips, just be sure to grab a liter of Cola, by that, being very serious there. That’s important. Whether you’re having in-person interactions, remote interactions, society’s only going to get more digital only going to get more automated and if you don’t keep things in perspective, then that anxiety level keeps getting up.  

In this AI forward world, everyone’s always talking about the fear of missing out the fear of machines, the machines uprising. But I’m very optimistic. Humans and machines are gonna work together. The work you’re doing is autonomous with research and in FinTech and crypto and many of the industries right now, there’s a lot of hope, not just in the U.S and in Europe, but globally it’s still a little early to tell who’s going to win the race.

If we’re going into that, is it the China meant economy, or is it the U.S European economy, but we’re moving in that direction and here at humane.

That’s just having a conversation about that direction and I really appreciate you for being with us here today.

Lex my pleasure. 

Lex Sokolin

Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun.

David Yakobovicth

For this episode of HumAIn,  I’m David Yakobovitch. And if you enjoyed the show, don’t forget to click subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you are listening to this. Thanks so much for listening and I’ll talk to you in the next one.

Works Cited

¹Lex Sokolin  

Companies Cited