- Creative AI Digest
- 🦉 Issue #36: Navigating the AI Era with Matt Garcia
🦉 Issue #36: Navigating the AI Era with Matt Garcia
Harnessing AI's Potential in Creative Industries and Beyond for a Future-Ready Career Strategy
✨ Personal Update
Thanks for all the positive feedback and encouragement on the format change! I’m excited to bring you insightful, thoughtful interviews each month, starting today.
You might notice that the post is “text heavy.” That is intentional. I want this to be a reading experience much like your favorite nonfiction book, so I did not break the flow with visuals.
You’ll almost certainly need to click the link at the bottom of the email (if you’re reading this in your inbox instead of on the site) to see the entire post because the new format extends past the length limits set by Gmail and other email providers. I’m sure you would have figured this out, but I didn’t want you to think I was phishing you with that link at the bottom of the email!
Just remember that computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. I agree that the choice is easy. Avoid lakes just in case.
Lastly, before we get into the interview, my friend Steve has a new AI newsletter on Substack that you’ll want to check out. It’s called, “AI in Everyday Life” and he does a great job of finding useful, practical tools to make your everyday life easier!
🌟 Meet the Guest
Matt Garcia is an AI consultant and AI career coach. Matt also holds degrees in Biology and in the History and Philosophy of Science that further inform his big-picture understanding of the world and the context in which the current AI revolution is taking place.
In previous lives, Matt has been a web developer, a museum professional, a crypto investor and YouTuber, a marketing director in a web3 startup, and the owner of a luxury real estate business in North Africa. But he has also been a farmhand, a waiter, a warehouse worker, and, well, some street jobs that shouldn't be mentioned in polite society. Thanks to these rich life experiences, Matt has had the opportunity to meet individuals from all walks of life — from the most dispossessed street hustlers to the most successful tech entrepreneurs, millionaires, and high-profile politicians.
Matt has been there done that and is a firm believer in the power of being radically cross-disciplinary. If you want a 360-degree understanding of a complex topic, Matt is your man.
Matt’s latest book:
📝 Overview by ChatGPT
Here’s what we talked about:
1. Matt's Early Interest in AI and Transition from Blockchain: Matt reveals that his interest in AI began in childhood and became more focused when he recognized the capabilities of image generators. His work in blockchain and crypto was significant in his shift towards AI.
2. "A-ha" Moment and AI Winter: Matt recalls his early realization about AI's potential to change everything. He notes that there were periods of stagnation in AI development, which he refers to as "AI winters."
3. Intersection of AI, Cryptocurrency, and Storytelling: Matt discusses his interest in exploring AI with cryptocurrency and his passion for storytelling. He admits to struggling to focus on one area due to broad interests.
4. AI's Pervasive Impact: Matt likens AI's impact to electricity, emphasizing its widespread influence on various human activities. He argues for understanding and leveraging AI tools in different fields rather than creating them from scratch.
5. AI Transition Phase as Opportunity and Challenge: The conversation delves into the current transitional phase in AI, viewing it as a window of opportunity. Matt discusses the philosophical mindset required to grasp AI's implications, noting that many people underestimate its significance.
6. Roles in Creative Industries: Matt outlines three roles for creative professionals in the AI era: the Doer (using AI in their craft), the Consultant (expertise in leveraging AI), and the Narrator (documenting and reporting on AI).
7. Consultants' Role in AI Revolution: The resilience of the Consultant role is highlighted, emphasizing adaptability in the face of rapid AI advancements.
8. AI's Impact on Job Market: Matt and J. explore the notion that AI might not create enough jobs to replace those it eliminates, with AGI potentially surpassing human capabilities in all areas.
9. Future Impact of AI on Society and Economy: Matt acknowledges the unpredictability of specific details in the future AI landscape, speculating on potential changes in professional roles and societal structures.
10. Human Role in Transition to AI Storytelling: Matt suggests that while AI may excel in storytelling, there could still be a niche for human personal branding and influence. He emphasizes building personal brands during this transition and explores how humans might find meaning in a future dominated by AI.
The interview reflects a blend of excitement and caution regarding the future of AI. There's enthusiasm about AI's possibilities, but also a realistic acknowledgment of its challenges, particularly in job displacement and the need for adapting to new roles. Matt's perspective is forward-thinking, focusing on how individuals and society can navigate the upcoming changes brought by AI advancements.
📝 The Transcript with AI Analysis by Zoom
From Crypto to AI: Matt's Evolution in the Tech World
Matt and J. engaged in a conversation about Matt's new book and his experiences with AI. Matt shared that his interest in AI began when he was a child, but his serious focus on the technology intensified when he noticed the impressive capabilities of image generators. He also mentioned that he had previously worked in the blockchain crypto space, which he believes was a significant factor in his shift towards.
J.: What was your “a-ha” moment? When did you realize that everything was about to change in a significant way?
Matt: When I was 12, 13, or 14, I started to read the news and to read books. I said, “The moment we get artificial intelligence, everything will change.” And I started to spread the gospel from there to all my friends and people that I knew. “One day we are going to be immortal, and one day all these things are going to happen. And one day artificial intelligence is going to be as smart as us.”
But then it was AI winter. There’s been a lot of AI winters. And most of my life, I’ve thought, “This is going to happen, but when we are super old.” I was not following AI closely because for me following AI was just seeing what Siri and Alexa could do. They weren’t much good, which meant that AI was still not here.
So I wasn’t even paying attention. It was on my list of careers that I wanted to enter, but I was doing crypto. I was doing other things. I didn’t have time to research AI. And then when a few months before ChatGPT came out, when the image generators started to show their impressive powers, that’s when I started to pay attention. At that time, ChatGPT 3 had come out and I thought, “Oh my God, it’s already here.”
The Fusion of AI and Blockchain: Insights from Matt's Book
Matt expressed his interest in exploring the intersection between AI and cryptocurrency, but also showed a desire to delve into storytelling. He shared that he often struggles with focusing on one area due to his broad interests. J. also expressed a similar sentiment, revealing that Matt's book, "The AI Writer," was recommended to him by a friend and aligned with his current thinking. In the book, Matt emphasized that understanding and leveraging AI tools, rather than creating them from scratch, is crucial for professionals in various fields. He further likened AI to electricity in terms of its pervasive impact on human activities.
J.: Are you still active in blockchain and crypto in addition to AI, or have you moved more into the AI space?
Matt: I’m there at the crossroads. I’ve been working in crypto until very recently. My next video is about top AI cryptocurrency tokens. I’m still in crypto. I think it’s very good to become an expert at the confluence of something that you like or that you know, and AI.
That’s why I’m exploring the intersection between AI and cryptocurrency, blockchain, and web3. But it’s going to depend on how I see things evolve. There are also many things outside of crypto that I love, like writing. I love storytelling, so that’s why I’m not sure that I’m going to stick with crypto. Maybe I’ll explore the intersection of AI and storytelling. However, one of my weaknesses is that I have broad interests—I struggle to niche down.
J.: I feel your pain. The world’s too big. There’s so much out there. It’s hard for me to pick one thing.
Matt: Yes. Maybe this time it’ll be good for us.
J.: This is a good transition into your book, THE AI RIDER: PROTECT YOUR LIVELIHOOD AND PROFIT FROM THE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WEALTH EXPLOSION. A friend recommended your book to me. She said, “You might not want to read this.” And I was like, well, as soon as somebody tells me I shouldn’t do something, I immediately want to do it. So I immediately bought your book. I found it to be very much in alignment with where my thinking is right now.
I’d like to do is start with a quote from your book and maybe we can explore it. In the beginning you say:
“You don’t need to create AI engines from scratch like core-AI scientists and developers do; you need to learn and master how to leverage the portion of those AI tools that can be used in your field. You also need to understand in what direction they are evolving — what those tools can’t do now, but also what they are likely to be able to do in the very short, medium, and longer terms.”
I’d like to unpack that a little bit because I think one of the misconceptions a lot of people have is that AI is for coders and developers and technical people. I think what you’re saying is that may have been true up until now. But moving forward, AI is going to affect every asset of our lives, every profession, every industry.
Matt: Yes. An analogy, but one that is much weaker than AI, is the advent of electricity. In the early days, nobody had anything to do with it apart from the inventors of electricity. But if you had a factory, a house, a building—any kind of business—you had to pay attention.
AI is much more pervasive than electricity, and electricity may be one of the most pervasive technologies we’ve ever seen. AI will affect every single human activity.
J. and Matt discussed the idea that we are currently in a transitional phase, specifically in relation to AI technology. They explored the concept of this being a window of opportunity that won't last forever and how many people struggle to place themselves in this historical context. Matt shared his experiences explaining the significance of AI to others, highlighting its impact on the core of human history and activity. However, he noted that many people lack the philosophical mindset to fully comprehend the implications of AI, leading to a lack of interest or understanding of its life-changing potential.
J.: I think one of the major themes that runs through your book is this idea that right now we are in a transitional phase. We have a window of opportunity that won’t be here forever. I think a lot of people struggle to place themselves in history. We’re alive now, and we think we are the apex of civilization. But we forget that we aren’t going to be here forever. We think of ourselves and our culture as fully developed, or “finalized.” But we’re simply another point on the timeline that extends (theoretically) far beyond our lifetime. That means this AI stuff right now, it’s not the end game.
When you talk to your friends and family, I’m guessing that you’re saying to them, “Hey, you have to pay attention to this stuff now because it’s an opportunity.” They probably respond by saying, “I don’t get it. It’s futuristic. It’s sci-fi. It doesn’t affect me.” How do you respond to those kinds of comments?
Matt: Most people don’t say that it doesn’t affect them. Most people belittle the technology. They say things like, “It didn’t reply to me correctly. It hallucinated. It got this wrong.” Thank God it said something wrong! If it was right about everything, it would be already game over—you don’t have anything to give to the world anymore. The machines are going to do everything and the owners of the machines are going to own everything.
Most people don’t see how important it is. They don’t understand. That’s why I spent so much time in the book—a whole chapter—discussing the historical context and cosmic history because we take the world for granted. Intelligence is the most important thing that we could ever synthesize.
Anybody who understands it, their mind is blown and they are having an existential crisis. I’m trying to explain to people why synthesizing intelligence is so pivotal, and sometimes it requires an explanation of why intelligence is at the core of human history, and why everything we’ve done in history is based on using intelligence. But few people are interested enough to go there. Few people want to talk with me in detail. They are just not philosophically minded.
In the beginning, AI is a novelty. It might be image generation or a chatbot that initially impresses them. But the moment that they get used to it, they forget why it’s so life changing, and they start losing interest.
Redefining Creative Roles in the Age of AI
J. and Matt discussed the importance of creative professionals understanding the roles of the “Doer,” “Consultant,” and “Narrator” in their work. The “Doer” role involves using AI to continue creating or offering services, such as a graphic designer using AI power for output. The “Consultant” role is for experts in their field who teach others how to leverage AI technology, including training businesses. The “Narrator” role documents and reports the changing landscape of AI technology.
J.: I would encourage folks to read that part of the book, especially because you lay out a detailed, historical argument for why this stuff matters. But you also take a pragmatic approach.
This newsletter is for creative professionals. These are people who are using their creativity, whether in their own businesses or part of a team in a corporation. I love the framework that you developed that those creative professionals can use: the Doer, the Consultant, and the Narrator. Can you give us an overview of those three roles and how you define them?
Matt: The Doer is the profile where we can currently leverage AI in our career or business—it’s the profile for people who are using AI to do their thing, to continue creating the same kind of thing that they create, or offering the same kind of service that they offer. A graphic designer is an example—someone who is continuing to do graphic design, but AI-powered.
The second type is the Consultant, anybody who becomes an expert on using AI in their field, but not necessarily to continue doing the same work. In the graphic design example, this would be a person who understands all the AI technology that augments generative image generation, and then teaches businesses or other professionals how to leverage it. Trainers would also be included in the Consultant role.
The third type is the Narrator, these are people who love creating content—like you or me—who tell other people how to leverage AI. They “narrate” this transition either in a teaching capacity, entertainment, or in content creation—such as YouTubers.
There won’t be many Consultants, and maybe fewer Narrators, because not as many people have the interest or the capacity to teach. Also, there are not infinite spots for Narrators. That role gets saturated sooner than others.
The Essential Role of AI Consultants in Today's Market
Matt and J. discussed the roles of content creators in the AI revolution. Matt highlighted the diversity of roles, including Doers, Consultants, and Narrators, noting that the consulting approach is particularly resilient in the face of rapid change. J. emphasized the fluidity of these roles and the importance of education and teaching. Matt agreed, noting that while many people can move towards consulting or narration, others may not have the necessary teaching or narrating abilities. He also pointed out that the role of Consultants will likely thrive in the transition period due to their adaptability to change.
J.: You were also clear that these are fluid roles, that they overlap. You will probably start as a Doer before you can become a Consultant because you have to understand how to use the tools before you can teach someone else how to use them.
You also talk about the symbiotic relationship between a Consultant and a Narrator, and that you can do both. You can be publishing, you can be sharing content—such as system frameworks—and at the same time, you can be teaching smaller contingents of people how to use those.
I’m biased because I’m an educator, but it sounds to me that unless you are strictly a Doer, and that is all you plan on doing, that teaching and learning seem to be critical as we move into the age of AI.
Matt: Yes, definitely. I call those people, “transition assistants.” Consultants and Narrators are going to be transition assistants. And their role will be so important in this transition.
However, I want to be realistic with personality types. Some people just don’t have teaching in them, or narrating in them. It takes a very specific type of brain. And so yes, many people can move towards consulting. Many people can move towards narration. But other people can’t, or they would be extremely unhappy as a Consultant or Narrator.
Also, some people are pure Doers. They don’t care about theorizing or talking about what they do.
J.: You wrote, “The consulting approach is particularly resilient in the context of the fast-changing AI revolution, and, therefore, can be a great route to take.” How is that role more resilient than the Doer role?
Matt: There are always exceptions, but in general it’s more resilient because it focuses on the very thing that is killing other people’s livelihoods, that is change. When your offering is adapting to the thing that is disrupting everything, the more disruption there is, the more important your role becomes.
But the end game is that even the best Consultants will eventually not be necessary. But in the transitional period, Consultants are going to do great. It’s a great time for Consultants.
AI and the Future of Work: A Critical Discussion
The conversation continued around the potential implications of AI and its impact on the job market. J. expressed discomfort with the idea that AI might replace all human jobs, while also acknowledging the technology's potential benefits. Matt further discussed the possibility of AI surpassing human capabilities in all areas, suggesting a future where AI outperforms both white-collar and blue-collar workers. The segment concluded with Matt noting that while this future might be bleak, there would always be a need for human workers in certain areas.
J.: That’s where I want to go next. This is where it might make folks uncomfortable. Even I get uncomfortable having these kinds of thoughts. You wrote:
“The first big little dirty secret that the AI masters aren’t telling you is the one we started this guide with: AI is the first technological revolution that won’t create enough jobs to replace all the jobs it destroys. And the second big dirty little secret is that AGI will end up with every single available human job and human-led company.”
I have this weird struggle inside of me, in that I get excited about the potential future of AI, but I can extrapolate it out all the way to the end game. And I don’t know how I feel about that. I think that’s what you’re talking about with these “dirty little secrets.” You’re clear and honest about where you think this is going.
Matt: I like to think in first principles. What is intelligence? What is synthetic intelligence and what is AGI?
They want to build intelligence that is at least as good as a human at anything. What’s the consequence of that? The consequence is that AGI will be as good as us at everything we can do, but with one difference—they’ll be faster with more memory. The moment AGI is created, they’ll have created something superhuman. It’ll be better than any white collar worker at anything, even the most subtle poetry or insightful philosophy.
Thank God that this recent phase of the AI revolution started with chatbots that can create art and can write, because otherwise nobody would’ve believed that level of synthetic intelligence would ever be possible. Now we don’t have to convince people it can do this.
Now factor in AGI with robotics (embodiment). That field is accelerating rapidly, which means robots will be able to replace blue collar workers. Everybody will be outperformed by AI.
However, there will always be artifacts of the old world. You can go to Central Park in New York today and ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Cars didn’t eliminate horses as a mode of transportation, but it drastically reduced it.
We’ll invent things to do once we no longer have anything to do, like going to a bar and working a shift as a waiter, but for fun.
The wealth creation will be made by autonomous companies managed by AI and robots, and that’s the end game. And that’s what we are moving towards.
AI's Transformative Effect on Society and Economy: A Forecast
Matt discussed the future impact of AI and robots on society and the economy, highlighting the need to devise personal and societal strategies to manage the changes. He acknowledged the difficulty of predicting specific details, such as the capabilities of the next generation of AI, and how these changes will affect various professions. In response to J.'s question about his business in five years, Matt emphasized the unpredictability of details, although he did contemplate the possibility of a shift in his role from a writer to a story curator if AI can write by itself.
J.: Whether AGI arrives in five years or ten—given the progression of the tools and the technology, can you imagine what your life looks like five years from now?
Matt: I really can’t because the details are unpredictable. The resolution at which we can predict details is blurry. The details depend on what the next generation of a large language models will be able to do. Take writing, for example. If the next generation of LLMs write better than a human, writers might become a curator of stories. Your job would be to have good taste and people will follow you for your recommendations.
AI's Long-Term Influence on Society: Expectations vs. Reality
Matt and J. discussed the future of AI and its impact on society. J. was confident that elements of AI would be present within the next five years, while Matt was more cautious, suggesting it could be a longer process. They also considered the implications for their roles, with J. suggesting a shift from creation to direction, and Matt suggesting a gradual implementation of AI in society. They acknowledged that the full implementation of AI would require a significant amount of time and effort, and raised the possibility of a more gradual transition if the world was not yet ready for full automation.
J.: I can’t answer that question either, to be honest with you. As a novelist, if AGI was here, what would be my role as a writer? I don’t think I would be a writer in the traditional sense, in the way that it has been for hundreds of years. I don’t know what that process would look like, but I would imagine it would be more of a director role as opposed to a creationist role.
Matt: I would say that if AGI arrives soon, it’s still going to take time. We’re not going to instantly implement AGI society-wide. We’ll still have years of “writing” in the way we’ve been. Take advantage of it until it’s implemented everywhere and go towards where maybe you can profit from it.
If AGI doesn’t arrive for another 10 or 15 years, then it’s going to be much more gradual.
Human Creativity in the AI Era: Adapting to New Storytelling Dynamics
Matt expressed his belief that AI will be superior to humans in storytelling, but he suggested that there may still be a role for humans in the personal branding and influencing industries. He emphasized the importance of building personal brands in the transitional period and the potential for humans to continue to have an audience even with the advancement of AI. He also suggested that humans might find meaning in activities such as hobbies or sports, even if machines can perform them more efficiently. However, he concluded that at a professional level, unless humans can merge with machines, they may not have a significant role.
But we have to realize, even in our storytelling example, AGI is going to be much better at curating stories than humans with a naked brain, unless those humans become a hybrid with AI.
Humans will still have something to offer, much like the role reality TV plays today. Seeing the “stories” of real humans is much more exciting to us than the stories of fictional people. You wouldn’t sit through an hour of the Kardashians talking in their kitchen if they were not real people—but they are real.
It’s still very important to build a personal brand in this transitional period because that may allow us have an audience, even if AI gets very advanced, because people want to see what other real people are saying. Even if they spend a lot of time a consuming synthetic media, made by synthetic people, there will always be space and demand for humans. In a podcast interview, you talked about memoirs. A memoir is a perfect example of what I mean by “reality TV.”
Some people will want to work for fun, assuming we have living expenses covered by Universal Basic Income. I might want to work one day a week as a waiter, just as a hobby.
An analogy I used in the book is that of the 18th and 19th century aristocrats. They found meaning without creating any economic output. They spent time on fashion, eating fancy meals, visiting friends, studying philosophy—but without the need to make money doing it.
Or consider the concept of retirement as it’s been traditionally defined. Maybe I retire at 70 years old, and I want to paint? I will never be a good painter, or the world’s best painter, but I do it because it’s something I enjoy. Humans will never be as good as the machines, but the activity can be a hobby. This is already the case with chess. Computers can already play it better.
We’ll find meaning through our activities. It’s what humans have always done.
✔️ Insights & Actionable Advice by ChatGPT
Leveraging AI in Creative Roles (Doer, Consultant, Narrator):
Insight: Creative professionals should identify their role in the AI landscape as Doers (using AI tools in their craft), Consultants (teaching others how to use AI), or Narrators (documenting and reporting AI advancements).
Actionable Advice: Evaluate your current skills and interests to determine which role aligns best with your career. Start experimenting with AI tools relevant to your field to enhance your creative process or develop educational content for others in your industry.
Adapting to AI's Pervasive Impact Across Industries:
Insight: AI is likened to electricity in its broad impact, affecting every profession and industry.
Actionable Advice: Stay informed about AI developments in your field and consider how you can integrate AI into your current workflows. This could involve using AI for content creation, data analysis, or customer engagement strategies.
Utilizing AI for Personal Branding and Storytelling:
Insight: Despite AI's capabilities, there is still a significant role for human creativity, particularly in personal branding and storytelling.
Actionable Advice: Focus on building a strong personal brand that leverages AI tools to enhance your unique storytelling voice. Use AI to create engaging content but add your personal touch to maintain authenticity and connect with your audience.
Embracing Change as a Consultant in the AI Era:
Insight: The consultant role is resilient amidst AI advancements, focusing on adapting to change.
Actionable Advice: If you're knowledgeable in AI, position yourself as a consultant to help others in your industry adapt to these changes. This could involve creating training materials, hosting workshops, or offering advisory services.
Exploring the Intersection of AI with Other Fields:
Insight: Matt discusses the intersection of AI with fields like cryptocurrency and storytelling, highlighting the importance of multidisciplinary approaches.
Actionable Advice: Explore how AI intersects with other areas of interest in your field. For instance, if you're in marketing, consider how AI can be combined with consumer behavior analysis, digital storytelling, or data-driven campaign optimization.
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📣 J. Thorn Public Appearances
If you’re interested in hearing me speak, present, or pontificate on a panel, check out my speaking schedule.
Note: ”Upcoming” gigs are linked to the event site, while “Past” gigs are linked to replays, where available.
✅ Author Alchemy Summit ('24) February 22-25, 2024 - Portland, Oregon
✅ South by Southwest ('24), March 8-16, 2024 - Austin, Texas
✅ Idaho Writers Conference ('24) April 11-13, 2024 - Boise, Idaho
✅ Author Nation Live ('24) November 11-15, 2024 - Las Vegas, Nevada
✅ Creator Economy Expo ('23), Cleveland, Ohio
✅ NFT-NYC ('23), New York, New York
✅ StokerCon (‘23) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
✅ Cincinnati AI for Humans (October 2023) Cincinnati, Ohio
✅ Fiction Marketing Academy Summit (October 2023) Online
✅ 20Books Vegas ('23) Las Vegas, Nevada
📰 Stay Up-To-Date on AI News
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Nothing in this newsletter should be considered financial, medical, marital, or advice of any kind. But we can still be friends.I can feel it coming in the air tonight.