Episode 0055 · June 29, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.

Getting Ready for AI in 2036

[Unedited Transcript]


Rich Ziade: Hey, happy New Year, Paul.

Paul Ford: Hey, rich. It’s New Year. What’s, what’s that about?

Rich Ziade: Well, when it turns January 1st, it’s January 1st, 2036.

Paul Ford: Oh, wow. That’s good. I finally lost all the weight. I feel great.

Rich Ziade: You look great. Thank

Paul Ford: you. You too. We’re doing really

Rich Ziade: We’re doing great. I

Paul Ford: I just had that new procedure, so I’m feeling better.

Rich Ziade: Are you excited about this game that’s coming out?

Paul Ford: Oh. What’s the new game

Rich Ziade: What do you mean? What’s the new game? It’s the new, um, Activision game that you don’t know. The new game.

Paul Ford: Oh, wait, we have to figure out what the game is. No,

Rich Ziade: they’ve got, they, they, they like mobilize their 6,000 AI brains and [00:01:00] on January 31st, 31 days from now. Okay. Okay. Um, an entire video game will be released.

Paul Ford: Oh. And like we are not, we don’t have anything to do with it.

Rich Ziade: Well, we made the computers that make it.

Paul Ford: Oh. So there’s no humans involved.

Rich Ziade: There’s no humans involved.

Paul Ford: finally did it. They got rid of the humans.

Rich Ziade: No, but here’s the thing. At the same time, Paul, guess what? What else it gets released? Uhhuh. A line of clothes that no one’s seen yet. A logo, a brand,

Paul Ford: a

Rich Ziade: 20 minute short film that sets up the game and

Paul Ford: no one’s seen any of this.

Rich Ziade: And there’ll be a soundtrack with tracks.

Guess who’s, who are the musicians that are lined up for the tracks?

Paul Ford: All AI, robot musicians.

Rich Ziade: Black Sabbath, but there’s an extra H on the Sabbath,

Paul Ford: Ah, like they licensed the, all the deceased members of Black Sabbath.

Rich Ziade: I, I guess, well, Ozzy’s fine by the way. It’s the Air 2031 [00:02:00] Ozzy’s fine.

Paul Ford: It’s, it’s not quite clear how that happens,

Rich Ziade: And so a bunch, I think 160 tracks are being released on, uh, Spotify simultaneously.

Paul Ford: seems like too many tracks, but it’s great that Spotify still exists. Didn’t expect that.

Rich Ziade: do you feel about this? That it had no director, it had no musicians, it had no artists, and an entire product, which by the way, costs 1 29

Paul Ford: This is, this was gonna be, so it’s not like $5. Like I’m gonna spend real money

Rich Ziade: Hell no. It’s not $5. You gotta pay the, you gotta pay the electric bill for all these computers coming up with this thing. It’s a vast world. Do you remember Grant Theft Auto from 20 years ago?

Paul Ford: I do.

It’s pretty big. You would drive around in your car

Rich Ziade: apparently it’s bigger than that.

Paul Ford: Okay. And by a factor of roughly 20,000.

Rich Ziade: me ask you something, man. I mean, do you remember when, like years ago, everybody’s like, oh my God. I asked the chat thing a question and the AI responded and it sounded like a person. Now, here we are. An [00:03:00] entire product is coming out with I think, no input other than, other than pointing it at other products.

Paul Ford: Are you gonna buy it?

Rich Ziade: Of course I am. It’s gonna be amazing.

Paul Ford: Is it gonna be better than death Stranding?

Rich Ziade: Death Stranding had you walking around the wilderness and seeking energy from, I think, an unborn baby in a jar. No. Obviously it’s not gonna be as good

Paul Ford: Yeah. Okay. Thank you. Just wanted to get there. It

Rich Ziade: gets crazier. Dude, you ready for this?

Paul Ford: I’m ready

Rich Ziade: As soon as it comes out. Kotaku. Yeah. And PC Gamer.

Paul Ford: It’s amazing. Those still exist.

Rich Ziade: Well, they, well, they don’t, because apparently robots will review the game that just got made by the robots.

Paul Ford: Hold on a minute. Who’s gonna play it?

Rich Ziade: Robots.

Paul Ford: I mean, this is the thing, like at some point, do we hit the end point here where it’s just like the robots made it, the robots reviewed it.

Rich Ziade: AMC Theaters took out 500 [00:04:00] theaters where you can watch the game play itself effectively through different camera

Paul Ford: Activision Blizzard, Microsoft, Google got together and made this happen.

Rich Ziade: Six. sequels will be coming out every three months for the next two years of the progress progression of this storyline.

Paul Ford: That’s wild. Cuz they still haven’t released the third avatar.

Rich Ziade: That’s a different story, man. That’s a completely different story.

Paul Ford: How

Rich Ziade: you feel about all this as a crea? You, you used to write, didn’t you?

Paul Ford: Oh, that Paul’s long dead.

Rich Ziade: Well, once you decided to fully commit to being a musician, that’s what

Paul Ford: happened.

Yeah, no. Look, how do I feel about this? I, I feel that. And this is, you know what? You know what, what I [00:05:00] really think, cuz you threw this one at me, Richard, you threw this puzzle at me. I don’t know if there is a tremendous difference between the truly corporatized media product like the Disney gge, you know this singing squirrels, Alvin and the Chipmunks part 45.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: Okay. And

Rich Ziade: saying that’s not a product of just pure human creativity?

Paul Ford: The thing is, well here’s, here’s where we’ve landed as a society back in 2023. Remember those days, which was, okay, it’s a franchise based on a, you know, like a, a gummy candy. It’ll be like gummy,

Rich Ziade: The Marvel Universe.

Paul Ford: Gummy bears the movie.

Um, but. But you would have these like, okay, well people like franchises and they like existing ip, but we’ll do our most interesting and creative work inside of that. The special effects, the comedy, we’ll get first class voice talent or whatever.

Rich Ziade: Or sometimes they take a dark turn, they get a [00:06:00] director that’s a little more on the

Paul Ford: Yeah. They love to make it. The, the dark gritty reboot. Reboot is how, how our culture deals with growing up. Right. It’s

Rich Ziade: Yeah. Yeah. The Joker movie, which is a very sad,

Paul Ford: Sort of a Scorsese homage based on Batman, right? Like and so, um, Okay, so I, you know, we have this new framework where that is essentially we’ve said, look, most creativity, true creativity of the whole form, making a whole movie like The Godfather, which of course is based on a novel or Star Wars, which is, has a ton of influences, is basically off the table for the most part existing.

IP is the greatest risk reduction mechanism we can have. But you can be unbelievably creative within that space. You can do an enormous amount of stuff as long, you can have as many dragons as you want. Okay. That, so if you tell me that we’re gonna go from there to something where you feed the ai, [00:07:00] the dynamics of the ip,

Rich Ziade: the other movies.

Paul Ford: yeah, no, but also just like make a thing.

And honestly, what I think would happen, and I think this is realistic, You are not gonna fully get humans outta the loop. That’s just, we don’t want that completely because you need a little guidance, a little knowledge, a little insight. You know the, these are not intelligent robots. These are processes that generate content.

Rich Ziade: I don’t know. Paul, did you see the Godfather five that came out last year? Pure AI generated.

Paul Ford: It was really wild cuz it was Sophia Coppola and that guy from Phoenix, it was her daughter just taking a helicopter around. It was pretty wild. Um, okay, so No, no, but I think like, all right, let’s say humans remain in the loop, but I think what you.

An infinitely generated narrative, visual, audio scape based on existing IP is absolutely something that World would love, like Blizzard would love it, right? Can we get, can Uber sort of like

Rich Ziade: blizzard, the game development

Paul Ford: [00:08:00] Can we make. An even bigger environment. Can we make it richer, more detailed?

Rich Ziade: There are generative and environments today. There are games that every time you play them, the landscape is different.

Paul Ford: but nothing, uh, yeah, like no man sky and stuff like that, but, but there’s nothing. At this level where the, the real detail is almost like fractal detail

Rich Ziade: all the way down to the, down to the details.

Paul Ford: just like we we’re good at rendering arbitrary physical terrain or, you know, wacky animals, but like adding narrative on top of that or integrating it with the internet and, and having it use real, you know, basically you could have a video game. Where the existing ip, let’s say it was a Star Wars type, right?

And the existing IP could reflect what’s going on in the world at a very like, almost like a nano level. Like you could go into your town on a planet in Star Wars and every town on the map would be a different planet. And it would have, and they would read the news about what was happening in the town, assuming there was still local news.

And they could generate sort of [00:09:00] reflective, because I mean, what is one of the things you can do with this? You can say, Um, write me a story about the Star Wars universe as if it was a local newspaper. Mm-hmm. You know, it’s like, um, you can, you can do that, you can play with form that way. So I do think that, uh, the dream, if you look at how we deal with IP and you look at how we deal with humans being creative and experimental inside of existing IP as the major kind of corporate way of expressing things in a way that people will buy it.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: This is. Utterly along that path. Utterly along it, it absolutely makes sense to me.

Rich Ziade: Is it good or bad?

Paul Ford: Oh, I don’t know, man. I that I’m too old for that question. Like that is a question. Is it bad? Well, let’s define good or bad. The Majo movies create an enormous amount of jobs. Everybody likes ’em.

I’m sure they play really well in like Jordan. Like you go to Jordan and you can see Avengers [00:10:00] end game. Yeah, right. Like for real, like

Rich Ziade: oh, it’s gonna be great. Like

Paul Ford: the, you know, they make them in such a way that they perform well in the Chinese market and they perform. So you have these like, Global properties that bring people together that have, you know, a rough sense of morals and decency and Chris Hemsworth is highly muscular and just kind of That’s your, that’s the thing.

I don’t have this fan. I used to have the fantasy that people were being denied the experience of great art. Yeah. But I, I don’t think most people, actually, most people want to have a nice hamburger.

Rich Ziade: I, I, I think you’re right. I, I, I have two observations here.

Paul Ford: Yeah. Like, I’m gonna bet you most people, most people in the world have not seen Goodfellas, which is a very fun movie to watch.

Rich Ziade: I gotta tell you, I I, we could go on a tirade right now about Goodfellas. I run into it in reruns, like flipping through

Paul Ford: Oh, it’s so good.

Rich Ziade: and it’s, it’s, so he, you could sense that he, the director is trying, is [00:11:00] just having the best time. He’s just having such a good time and it comes through such that you can watch any 15 minutes of that movie and it’s just joy

Paul Ford: The thing about the thing about Goodfella is this Scorsese assembled the perfect cast and he’s such a good director that you could see that is like having the world’s greatest sports car. Like, he’s like, I have De Niro. Yeah, right here.

Rich Ziade: He’s just having a good time and, and it’s a wonderful film. But, and so here is, here is, I have two observations.


Paul Ford: remember Dances with Wolves when the Oscars that year.

Rich Ziade: here. I know, I know. I run into that Wikipedia page

Paul Ford: Yeah, you don’t. When’s the last time you watched Dances with Wolves? I’ve

Rich Ziade: not seen dance in a very long time. Um, uh, two observations. One is, um, yeah, people like the familiar and it’s [00:12:00] kind of, we’re veering right into the wheelhouse of ai generative technologies like ai, uh, because we can.

Paul Ford: can.

Rich Ziade: We can process more familiar stuff. Right. And I, and I think I, you know, will there be a day where Beyonce hits a button and says, I know what this is, but I advocated for it because I fed the machine.

Paul Ford: Yeah.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. We will pay money not just for Beyonce’s output, but for Beyonce’s willingness to feed a machine

Paul Ford: or it, it will be who can do style transfer and sing on America’s Got Talent using Beyonce’s voice.

Rich Ziade: et cetera, et

Paul Ford: cetera. And they’ll have to hit all the notes themselves or the voice will crack. Yeah. But it’ll be Beyonce’s voice coming out. So can you perform your song in the style with the voice of Beyonce and everybody will be like, that is wild. It sounds just like Beyonce. Yeah. But it was a, a Husky man.

Exactly. Named Edgar.

Rich Ziade: And [00:13:00] we’ll be entertained. Yes. And we will be entertained and, and to sit here and say, well that’s not art. That’s true. It’s not art. So my first point is this. Uh, there’s always gonna be somebody who has a desire to make some art.

Probably because they have no money.

Paul Ford: Yeah. That is

Rich Ziade: are going, do you remember that movie,

Paul Ford: Blair

Rich Ziade: Project? Yeah. That movie was like a phenomenon, like they did it with $11.

Paul Ford: Yeah. This, I think Chris Rock did a bit about this. Like it was just, but it looked like they did it with $11.

Rich Ziade: watched it and I’m like, that sucked. I didn’t think it was good.

But people were enamored with the constraints around it. Right. And I think art artists will always seek out those constraints, whether it be street art or whether it be a musician who just doesn’t have the money and they produce a thing on shitty hardware or

Paul Ford: Witch Project was capable. It wasn’t well

Rich Ziade: tell everyone what it is cuz we’re 150

Paul Ford: right. It was a movie that came out in the nineties.

It cost about $20,000 to produce and it was made by a couple young [00:14:00] filmmakers. And it’s about literally you get lost in the woods and you can’t find your way out and you keep finding all these creepy objects.

Rich Ziade: Well, it was a found camera.

Paul Ford: that’s right. We, we found the camera and it turns out that like the witch of the woods has, has gotten these people.

Rich Ziade: Yes,

Paul Ford: And it gets more and more ridiculous cuz it’s like, put the camera down and run the idiot. But like regardless, the conceit worked really well. It made a ton of money.

Rich Ziade: it embraced the constraints that they had, which is like, wait, we don’t have editors, we don’t have good cameras. We don’t have good microphones.

But that’s what a horror like, they, they did it. Right.

Paul Ford: Well, and it captured exactly one feeling, which is the feeling of being lost in the woods, which is scary. Sure I’ve been lost in the woods, and you don’t know where you gotta find the stream. Right? And in the, in the movie, they can’t, they keep finding the things that would get them home, but they stay lost.

And so it’s terrifying. Right? So like, okay, okay. But yeah,

Rich Ziade: was a low budget outside of mainstream production product that did well. And you’re always [00:15:00] gonna have that. And if you really wanna see the weird foreign film that’s like made in a oppressive society and they snuck it out, you’re always gonna be able to see it.


Paul Ford: Well, there’s always an Iranian cabby narrative. You know, he drives people around and talks to them, and it’s really, it’s very sad.

Rich Ziade: films that come out of

Paul Ford: All right. It’s an amazing filmmaking culture. So look, here’s what you’re saying. What you set us up with, I think is utterly practical and seems like a natural continuation of the themes of the entertainment industry.

Now, here’s what I would say. So if, if, if we fast forward to whatever it was, 2037 and AI is creating enormous games, scapes. I think my idea of it being based on, on IP and so on and so forth is utterly realistic the way things are going. I could see that path because it doesn’t require computers to magically become intelligent.

It just imagines it. It imagines that people want to consume the familiar,

Rich Ziade: Yes. But

Paul Ford: the nature of human perversity is that we like variety and so I do wonder, [00:16:00] like. You get to a certain point, I don’t think there’s actually room in the world for a whole lot more Marvel movies. Like the new ones aren’t doing that great comparatively

Rich Ziade: is that right?

Well, they’re also boring. I mean, look, I, I’m sounding like a snob right now, but, um, it’s a lot of the same

Paul Ford: I don’t do. I mean, it doesn’t, it they don’t have the cultural purchase. Here’s what’s tricky. They can still make 300 million, $400 million. Right? So like, but I mean, does anyone been like, oh my God, I had to be at opening night for Quantum Mania Ant Man three, like, no.

Right. And, and you know, they’ll be, the sequels come and it’s, you know, this part of the

Rich Ziade: love that burst of surprise. We do

Paul Ford: We do, and we’re perverse, right? And so there’s this entire possibility, and I think it’s real. It’s not, the fantasy is like indie games, but what will happen is, is like you could see independent creators, like certain things going viral and getting big and being brought in because suddenly it becomes imperative that you turn your back on some of the AI based IP generation [00:17:00] machinery because humans don’t want.

All of that all the time. I

Rich Ziade: I mean, I remember when Pulp Fiction came out Distinctly. And it was such a shockingly ridiculous movie at that time because you know the trajectory of, of films that are getting signed off on and getting $10 million. It was very clear,

Paul Ford: unusual in that the film, you never were.

Far away from the idea that you were watching a movie like Tarantino loves to be like movie, movie, movie. Like there’s a point where exactly. You know, he draws a little line on the screen as Zuma Thurmond moves

Rich Ziade: He’s had, I mean he’s literally a movie video rental clerk who’s obsessed with movies who got to make a movie. Like essentially what happened there. But it was feet and Beta

Paul Ford: and Beta Max. Those were like his two things[00:18:00]

Rich Ziade: and it was.

It was a burst of, it was just like the windows were flown open and fresh air came through and it was like, whoa, this is gonna change some things.

Paul Ford: Oh, it’s

Rich Ziade: Guy Richie came

Paul Ford: Violent. And you know, and it was also that when they show you the subcultures that you’re somewhat familiar with, when you see your own world reflected on screen instead of like a world of people in suits and ties, didn’t

Rich Ziade: Can’t AI generate a pulp fiction out of the blue?

Paul Ford: Not really. Not yet. Maybe, maybe. But it just, what’s the point? We like humans doing things.

Rich Ziade: We do. And here’s the thing about humans, it’s the point I want to close with. When Pixar took hold, everybody’s like, oh my God, it is going to take a 10th of the time to make an animated film and it’s gonna be so much cheaper.

Because they used to hand draw ’em. They used to literally

Paul Ford: yeah,

Rich Ziade: like, I forget what the name of that paper is like. They,

Paul Ford: Have you seen,

Rich Ziade: they would flip [00:19:00] pages to make the person, you know, the character walk.

Paul Ford: see Toy Story in the movie theater?

Rich Ziade: It looks ridiculous.

Paul Ford: Well, no, but did you ever see it When I, I went out because I was like, this is wh they’re doing 3D animation in the movie theater.

I went and saw, and it was so bright and shiny and it was beautiful. And you look at it now and it is dog

Rich Ziade: shit.

Paul Ford: Like, it is

Rich Ziade: look like dog

Paul Ford: it looks like a, like a 90 90. It looks like somebody playing descent on a Mac in 1997.

Rich Ziade: here’s my point about humans. You would think, oh my God, we don’t have to draw every cell anymore. Every bit of animation doesn’t have to be hand drawn. This is gonna be so much cheaper

Paul Ford: No, no. They have to do every single palm tree in Moana on the island.

Rich Ziade: It still costs a hundred million dollars.

Yeah. To make an animated film. It

Paul Ford: never gets cheaper

Rich Ziade: It, and it always requires the human hand to come back into the mix there. It’s just a different skill, a different set of

Paul Ford: I, I think that’s right.

I think you’ll see AI will make a better and more detailed island, but it’ll still somehow be just as expensive and different kinds of CPUs and GPUs will be [00:20:00] involved. But then I also just think there’s this fundamental human perversity that’ll be like, oh, they want me to buy this. I’m gonna buy something else just to tell ’em to go to hell.

Rich Ziade: hell. A hundred percent. But also if the indie creator can get hold of these tools and make more ridiculous things with it versus like, I only can use my phone to film.

Paul Ford: It is, it is true. We might get past the, you know what, you know what’d be really fun is as this gets better and better, the, let’s say you create your 2D platformer and it’s kind of quirky and you know, black and white graphics or whatever, and.

You can extend it, right? You can make that first scene and you can say, let’s keep drawing and you can make a bigger game world. You still need the originating idea. Yeah, but like the ELE

Rich Ziade: could elevate

Paul Ford: the elevator in the game could be a lot cooler. Yes. Right. And you could go, you could, some scenes could be a minute or two longer.

Now. Now an hour gets added and people will spend more time and more money on experiences like that and you can enhance them with these technologies.

Rich Ziade: think that’s the interesting, the, the, the demo [00:21:00] democratization of these like production tools that are only in the hands of, you know, really, really wealthy production studios and whatnot, I think could lead to like really, really interesting things. The

Paul Ford: you described at the beginning is still a billion dollars to get it out.

Rich Ziade: We are very good at creating more work and making things more expensive.

Paul Ford: know why, though? You know, you know, the other secret thing in here is like, let’s say create that surface and humans are gonna participate and they’ll engage.

The price goes up because you have to market into that surface to get their attention and get their money right? So it’s like everybody’s like, ah, it’s gonna be free. There’ll be content everywhere. It’s like, well, if there is, there’ll be, you’ll have to like either pay to access it, or it’ll be really expensive for advertisers to put their AI generated ads in the middle of it.

Rich Ziade: we’re really good at selling to

Paul Ford: We, we will create a marketplace out of this enormous cultural garbage fire.

Rich Ziade: Well, Paul, I I just wanna say you, you look great for your age.

Paul Ford: Oh, I’m, I’m real. I don’t even know how old I am right now. That’s how

Rich Ziade: Don’t worry about it. That’s, [00:22:00] there’s age has been eliminated as a required question for anything now in society. So you look great. Uh, you feel good. We are in a climate controlled pod right now hovering over Manhattan

Paul Ford: Yeah. That, that part’s not so great. And I do have to get those hourly injections of teenager blood. But other than that, everything’s good.

Rich Ziade: So take care of yourself. Um, now, uh, aboard.com is celebrating its 10000000th user.

Paul Ford: Oh, this is amazing. We built this product years ago, back when there was fiat currency and a stable government. And now take off

Rich Ziade: in Latvia as sort of the seed of this success.

Paul Ford: And here we are building one of our, the Lana board Supercenter. It’s pretty exciting. Uh, we’re gonna be there, we’re gonna be there this week, cutting the ribbon.

Rich Ziade: At a board.com.

Paul Ford: Yeah. To

Rich Ziade: To collect, organize, and collaborate on pretty much anything you find on the internet.

It’s a great tool. Uh, check it out. And, uh, [00:23:00] congratulations Paul. This is our seventh thousandth episode. I

Paul Ford: I can’t believe we made it work this

Rich Ziade: I’m glad we still get along. Good for

Paul Ford: Good for us. All right, Richard. Uh, so if you like this podcast, you can follow us on Twitter at zdi ford.

Send us an email hello@zdiford.com. We love you. Uh, give us a good rating if you’re in the mood, and we will talk to you soon.

Rich Ziade: Have a lovely week. Bye.

Paul Ford: Bye.

[00:24:00] [00:25:00]

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