Episode 10
September 22, 2016

The Dark Side

Maybe the future isn't so bright, after all? We dig into recent news and some listener feedback that has us wondering just how positive our future will be with mounting global political uncertainty.

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Maybe the future isn't so bright, after all? We dig into recent news and some listener feedback that has us wondering just how positive our future will be with mounting global political uncertainty.

In this episode we cover:

  • Our new Future Commerce Alexa Skill created by Phillip using new streaming feature in ASK
  • Amazon news
  • Shortened work week
  • Apple event and effect on commerce
  • Article on chatbots by Matt Swanson: http://venturebeat.com/2016/09/07/the-200-billion-chatbot-disruption-part-two/
  • Feedback from Joe: the Future Commerce Drinking Game
  • Feedback from Gil
  • Feedback from Piotr: the Upside Down
  • What about the negative effects of innovation in commerce?

Download MP3 (56.4 MB)

Brian: [00:00:20] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:26] And I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:00:28] And today we have a ton of news and things to talk about. So buckle up, because here we go.

Phillip: [00:00:36] Buckle up. Buckle it up in your brand new Tesla that you picked up this week. Buckle it up. As it drives you into the future, right off into the sunset on its own, hopefully not underneath a truck. God bless that person who died. This is a terrible way to open a show.

Brian: [00:00:55] Oh man.

Phillip: [00:00:55] We want you to give us feedback.

Brian: [00:00:57] Maybe not so terrible. We'll see.

Phillip: [00:00:58] It's the truth. It's the dark side of the future. Your future is not so bright, actually. We'll get to that. I'm hinting at something. We want you to give us feedback about today's show. And so, as always, we want you to leave that feedback for us in the Disqus comment box below. And you can do that officially right now on FutureCommerce.fm. We are there and we are live and we're working on a new site design and all kinds of stuff. So we're really excited about it. We want you to go there and we want you to click on there's a couple buttons right at the top. You can click to subscribe to Future Commerce on iTunes or Google Play or even if you want, you can listen to Future Commerce on your Amazon Echo on TuneIn Radio with the phrase "Alexa, Play Future Commerce podcast."

Brian: [00:01:44] Podcast.

Phillip: [00:01:45] Yeah, you have to you have to put the podcast. But we are...

Brian: [00:01:48] Ahh.

Phillip: [00:01:48] I can make an announcement.

Brian: [00:01:50] Speaking of working on things.

Phillip: [00:01:51] Yeah, so we are working.

Brian: [00:01:53] What are you working on right now?

Phillip: [00:01:54] So I'm building an Alexa skill with the brand new audio streaming feature that's part of the Alexa skill kit that was just announced on the twenty fourth. So just not even three weeks ago, two weeks ago. So it's brand new, but you can build all kinds of really interesting streaming audio applications now, which were previously only available to certain developers. And so we're going to build a Future Commerce skill. And so you'll be able to say... You'll be able to ask for the latest episode and do all the things that you think you could possibly do or even ask for an episode by the episode number, and it will fetch it. And it's kind of working right now.

Brian: [00:02:36] It's working, right?

Phillip: [00:02:38] Yeah, it's working. It's working. I really want to put a lot more features into it, like of being able to like get the episode number by its number or maybe even by like a key phrase and sort of search for it. But maybe those are things that come in time. But I think it's really interesting. It's really interesting. And what I would love to do is love to get some people to use it and give us feedback. And if you do wind up using it, you can install it. It should be in the Alexa skill store today when you're listening to this episode. So just go there and search for Future Commerce and you'll find it.

Brian: [00:03:15] Yeah next episode maybe we should, like, even do a little demo.

Phillip: [00:03:18] Yeah, we should demo it. When I don't have returned all the way down.

Brian: [00:03:24] Yeah. We can get all meta and even like start an episode while we're doing an episode.

Phillip: [00:03:29] Yeah. Oh wow. That must be so crazy. That reminds me, do you remember there was a show on HBO about 20 years ago. I'm dating myself. Called Mr. Show with Bob and David?

Brian: [00:03:42] Man that is dating yourself because I do not remember that. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:03:46] {laughter} And so...

Brian: [00:03:48] Not that I'm that much younger than you.

Phillip: [00:03:50] So it has to two very, very famous people, Bob Odenkirk, who you would know from Breaking Bad.

Brian: [00:03:59] Wait, wait, wait. Isn't that David Cross as well?

Phillip: [00:04:02] David Cross and Bob Odenkirk.

Brian: [00:04:04] Ah yes, I know about that. I haven't really done anything with it, but I do know about it.

Brian: [00:04:07] Oh they're hilarious. But they have this phenomenal sketch that's totally meta. It's a public access television show that records every week, but they record on a one week tape delay. So they're taking calls from last week's episode on this week's episode. And then at the end of him, like getting frustrated because someone's calling in about pets. But it's really this episode is about old people. Then he's like look at this right now. It's not that hard. I've told you a million times we're on a one week tape delay, and he pulls the television over and he shows that it's the old one. But because it's on a one week tape delay, now we're seeing an episode about something else. And then in that episode, meta, he does the same thing at the end of that episode and the same thing at the end... It becomes like this like very inception, you know, show within a show sort of thing. Anyway...

Brian: [00:05:00] Oh, dude, I had a buddy... Not to go too far down this rabbit trail. But I buddy who worked with me a while back and he did this photo of him holding a photo mug and it got pretty deep. It got a little bit uncomfortable, like uncomfortably deep.

Phillip: [00:05:19] Unprintably deep, I think.

Brian: [00:05:20] Yeah. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:05:20] See, I love things like that. I don't know why, but speaking of meta, actually one of our best episodes that we've ever had was the episode previous to this. So if you're new to the show, I really want you to pause this episode and go back and listen to Episode 9.

Brian: [00:05:42] Nine. Yeah. We're in Episode 10, man.

Phillip: [00:05:43] Yeah, this is Episode 10. So you need to go back and listen to Episode 9 with Scott Emmons. Or sorry...

Brian: [00:05:48] Yeah, that's right. Yes.

Phillip: [00:05:51] I'm on a one week tape delay, so I'm like... {laughter} That's what made me think about this. So you need to go back and listen to our interview with Scott Emmons from the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab. Great, great episode and really great that he came on the show. And so we really want you to listen to that. And you know what? There's an episode that's not getting a lot of love. And it's my favorite episode that we've ever done. It's Episode 5.

Brian: [00:06:15] Shoot. That's a great episode.

Phillip: [00:06:16] Yeah. Yeah.

Brian: [00:06:17] I went back and listened to that episode in full, which I'm not going to lie, I don't do that with every episode. And it was so good.

Phillip: [00:06:23] It's so good. And Tom Robertshaw of Meanbee, who does a lot of work with cognitive commerce and Watson. I just feel like cognitive is something that we are going to be talking about a lot. A lot.

Brian: [00:06:38] Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:06:38] Yeah. Very, very cool stuff kind of coming out of that. And in fact, it's not on our show notes right now. Have we discussed the Watson experiment to cut together that movie trailer? Did we discuss that at all?

Brian: [00:06:50] No, we didn't put that in. That was great.

Phillip: [00:06:52] Yeah. So if you actually go to... I think if you check it out, I saw it on AdWeek, but it's the first cognitive movie trailer, what they're calling the first cognitive movie trailer, for a horror movie called Morrigan, which is coming out in October as most horror movies do.

Brian: [00:07:14] No I think it's out.

Phillip: [00:07:15] Oh, is it really?

Brian: [00:07:16] Yeah I think it's out.

Phillip: [00:07:17] I felt like it was coming. But it's a show about artificial intelligence kind of becoming sentient and the whole dystopian view of AI, so they thought it would be like really trippy to have Watson create the trailer. Well they didn't use it. It's not the theatrical trailer. It's more of a YouTube experiment. But did you watch it?

Brian: [00:07:40] Yeah, I watched the trailer. It was actually pretty good. It was. I mean, I was impressed, no doubt.

Phillip: [00:07:45] Yeah. So was there anything weird that you noticed about it?

Brian: [00:07:50] I didn't watch it in detail, but, yeah. What did you notice?

Phillip: [00:07:54] I mean, the same thing that that was it Sunspot? What was the name of the movie that was...

Brian: [00:07:59] Oh, dude. That was Sunspring.

Phillip: [00:08:03] Sunspring. It's the same thing that I had a problem with in Sunspring is that it's just complete, like these very strange choices of context. Like it totally nails the thematic and musical choices and like weird stuff. But there were weird cuts, like long periods of silence and people staring at each other, which is actually really cool because it was kind of unsettling because it's, you know, the I don't know...

Brian: [00:08:34] Maybe it was intentional.

Phillip: [00:08:34] In the history of trailers, not a great trailer, but it's interesting anyway. Very cool stuff happening cognitive. And if you want to hear more about that, go back to Episode 5. Check out our interview with Tom Robertshaw. Anyway, we've got a bunch of news this week. Kick us off, Brian. Get us into the show here.

Brian: [00:08:51] Well, we already talked about one thing, the Alexa streaming skill. Speaking of Amazon, though, this is I mean, it is commerce related. I think it's worth talking about briefly. But Amazon's piloting a 30 hour work week, which is very interesting given Amazon's reputation. Yeah. So, I mean, traditionally I think most listeners would probably have heard this, but Amazon's reputation is actually that it's a relatively intense place to work. And there was that I think was that New York Times article? Was it The Times or?

Phillip: [00:09:32] Oh, yeah, I'm not sure. Sure. Why not?

Brian: [00:09:36] Yeah, sure. There was a fairly like, hefty article about how rough it was to work there, actually.

Phillip: [00:09:43] Yeah. It was sort of like an op ed in one of the major publications about how it was very frequent... It was not infrequent to see people like head down on their desk crying and all kinds of like other...

Brian: [00:09:56] People just getting burned out all of the time.

Phillip: [00:09:57] Horrific things to hear.

Brian: [00:09:59] I want to leave, you know, like as soon as they vest. I don't know how much if that's completely accurate, I kind of doubt that it's like, yeah, but I'm sure there are situations. There are different divisions. It's a huge company.

Phillip: [00:10:16] Yeah.

Brian: [00:10:16] I mean, it's actually... So I'm in Seattle, as you might have known from my Twitter handle.

Phillip: [00:10:23] Yeah.

Brian: [00:10:24] I moved away to Missouri for three and a half years, this is, what, five years ago now. I came back and Amazon had completely changed the sort of South Lake Union area. And so pretty, pretty crazy, like they are constantly growing. They're constantly building. And it's just a huge company. So anyway. Great that they're piloting this, though. I think there's a lot of interesting evidence to show that for certain people this is actually a really effective way to do business and a worthwhile way to do business.

Phillip: [00:11:07] But I think what's really important here is that it's a 30 hour work work week, but it's seventy five percent of the full time pay.

Brian: [00:11:17] Right.

Phillip: [00:11:17] So you'll still be salaried. You're still going to get the same benefits, but you're working three quarters of a week. You're going to get three quarters of the pay, which I think is I mean, sure, that's totally fair.

Brian: [00:11:32] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:11:33] But you contrast that with the approach of some other companies that have done that very recently. A good example would be there was a story in Fast Company, a couple... I don't know, I saw it two weeks ago. I'm not sure if it's a news story or not, but it's a company called Tower Paddleboards that... I lied. I know. I read it last week. It was published last week. So Stephan Aarstol wrote about how he transitioned his company to a modified work schedule. So everyone works eight to one. And so they're you know, they're going for that. It's five days a week, but it's from eight to one. And they piloted it just for three months, like a year ago. And now they've decided to stick with it. And so beyond that, they are also doing some profit sharing. So they had some really interesting benefits to working there. But the idea was, you know, they wanted to make sure that they were still competitive, and so they were asking people to be like 100 percent like more productive than they usually are. And then, you know, if they can do that, then they would stick with it. And I think that's the important thing. There's a lot of things, a lot of smart economists that would tell you that the economy depends on productivity, and it depends on the American worker, in the United States at least, being able to be more productive and to output more goods and services for less time input. And so if we're all working less, I'm not sure what the net effect is. There seems to be a lot of studies that say that the net effect is positive.

Brian: [00:13:22] They're at least some pilots. I mean, I think the key here is like I think, you know, if you go into the depths of the article that he says basically we ask people to be extremely efficient with their time and occasionally, you know, if they need to stay a little bit longer, they do. But it's more of an exception than the rule. And so I think it's more about setting the culture of being very intentional, efficient, intense while you're working at work and then, you know, reap the rewards by being able to get off early and not just kind of waste your time.

Phillip: [00:14:01] I mean, they're not alone, right? There are a lot of people that are a lot or companies and even governments that are experimenting with six hour workdays and some other things. So it's really interesting.

Brian: [00:14:15] I mean, it kind of makes sense to me. I mean, I don't really know, you know, if it's valid or not. But it kind of make sense, like given the pace that I know a lot of people work really hard, and you can't help but think like if you work at that pace at some point during the day, you're just going to kind of lose productivity. And so I don't know. I can see coming back in the evening and putting in a couple hours or something like that or you know.

Phillip: [00:14:43] Yeah, yeah. I don't know. This is it's not a future workforce as a podcast.

Brian: [00:14:49] That's true.

Phillip: [00:14:49] But I think it's a really interesting topic, something I think we will be exploring more, because I think this is important. I know more people... We talked about the sharing economy a few episodes ago, and I know more people now than ever who not only carry more than one job, but they are extremely open about it. And that used to be very taboo in our culture.

Brian: [00:15:11] That's a really good point. I think maybe, you know, the commerce side of this is we might see, and I think we already are seeing this, more side businesses, more people kind of doing, having their side hustle and maybe the economy and commerce will advance as a result.

Phillip: [00:15:29] Well, I think we are seeing that. Uber and Airbnb, that is their entire business model is capitalizing on on people's unused time, unused cars, unused homes or sometimes used homes. But people are trying to find a way to bring in either extra income or make better use of their free time. And I think that we are. It was the promise that I think Amazon's Mechanical Turk never delivered on, which was like the opt in work force.

Brian: [00:16:02] Yes. Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:16:03] You know what I mean? Like the sign on when you want workforce and do whatever, you know, do small little tasks and get paid for them. That is Uber. That is Uber. But instead of, you know, training, machine learning or doing manual tasks and identifying photos, which, by the way, Mechanical Turk is an incredible piece of technology. And I'd love to have somebody on the show to talk about that sort of workforce automation, workforce sort of innovation.

Brian: [00:16:32] I totally agree, man.

Phillip: [00:16:33] Because it powers so much of the Internet and people don't even really know that.

Brian: [00:16:38] Yup.

Phillip: [00:16:38] Everything from things like, you know, doing filters for four minors pictures of nudity or any you know, there's all kinds of things that only humans can do. And so it's really well suited for that. But it was the promise, I think, that 10 years ago that really never came to be, which was this is something that's going to change the way that people work is that they can opt in, make a good amount of money. And kind of sign on and off whenever they want, and Uber became that. So anyway, keeping on. We'll move away from that now. But I think it's interesting. I'd love to hear your feedback on what you think about that. Are you working a modified schedule right now? Does your company offer flex time? Are you able to sort of opt to work from home? I'd love to hear how your job has changed over the last few years. So for listeners, please hit us up. We'd love to hear that. And OK, anyway, last but not least for the Amazon News, the new Dot was leaked. The Echo Dot, which was discontinued a few months ago, was leaked. "Leaked." Does Amazon make mistakes?

Brian: [00:17:48] Yeah, I think they do. I think actually, when it comes to releasing things, they actually have a little bit trouble. Sometimes they have trouble with different like movies and publishing movies.

Phillip: [00:18:01] Oh, I see.

Brian: [00:18:01] Yeah, yeah. Things like that.

Phillip: [00:18:02] Teams that just aren't able to like work in tandem or something to that effect. At any rate it came out. This thing hit Twitter, it was deleted within like seconds. But you know, it's on the Internet.

Brian: [00:18:17] That's all the Internet needs. And now we all know.

Phillip: [00:18:20] That's never going away. Exactly.

Brian: [00:18:21] And honestly, if they release it for a penny over $49.99 I think that people will be pretty unhappy because I think that it's actually where the Dot should be priced. At that price, I feel a lot happier about purchasing a Dot than I did at the what was that like $79 that they had it before?

Phillip: [00:18:40] Yeah. I mean very competitive with the Google Home devices if and when those land. Right? At that price point.

Brian: [00:18:47] Yeah, exactly. I mean really the Dot is an add on. Right? So it's not meant to be a standalone device.

Phillip: [00:18:54] I mean people say that because it doesn't do the speaker stuff. But I find myself more and more. I have now, I think eight or nine Wemo devices in my house. Light switches and such.

Brian: [00:19:06] Nice.

Phillip: [00:19:06] I find myself more and more using my Echo for home automation. And so having a Dot in the bedroom, so that I can kind of use my if then than that, you know, go to bed settings like that, just that it's huge. And I know it's dumb to have $99 invested in a little device that that's all it really it does. But at the end of the day, um...

Brian: [00:19:29] It's the future.

Phillip: [00:19:30] Yeah. This really shouldn't even be honestly shouldn't even be a physical device. This should just be on somebody's phone but especially because the Dot...

Brian: [00:19:42] We talked about this. They can't do that yet.

Phillip: [00:19:43] I know.

Brian: [00:19:44] Like they don't have the method to do that yet.

Phillip: [00:19:47] Anyway. OK, whatever. Right.

Brian: [00:19:48] You're right.

Phillip: [00:19:48] Yeah. OK, so anyway it's interesting. Yeah. We'll see what happens with that. End of story. Full stop. {laughter} All right.

Brian: [00:19:59] So another thing, Apple had their product event.

Phillip: [00:20:05] Speaking of virtual assistants on the go.

Brian: [00:20:08] Yeah, actually. So this is pretty exciting to me. I know that I think people had a lot a lot to say about this recent apple event.

Phillip: [00:20:15] Oh my gosh.

Brian: [00:20:16] I mean, really, it just comes down to courage.

Phillip: [00:20:19] {laughter}

Brian: [00:20:20] So, you know. I shouldn't have even made that joke because...

Phillip: [00:20:24] That's a great one.

Brian: [00:20:25] Everyone's already made that joke so much. I feel bad for them at this point.

Phillip: [00:20:29] Every joke that could be made has been made.

Brian: [00:20:30] {laughter}

Phillip: [00:20:30] Yeah, I actually do think it's a... I don't know, I'll be the apologist. I love Apple products. I do think they're on a downward slope right now. I don't think it's... There's some weird stuff happening at Apple, but I kind of like that the Air Pods.

Brian: [00:20:48] The Air Pods. Yeah. I mean I did hear some people compare them to like, ancient Bluetooth devices.

Phillip: [00:20:56] I didn't hear that comparison. I thought they looked more like they're straight out of Doctor Who. It was like an episode of Doctor Who that you know...

Brian: [00:21:03] I can definitely see that. I'm personally really excited about them. I think that this is a technology that has been needing a little bit of a facelift and an update. And the thing that got me most excited, and I feel like it's really hinting where Apple wants to go, and I really hope that they do go, is the double tap to Siri?

Phillip: [00:21:25] Yeah.

Brian: [00:21:25] On the earbud. Which I think that is very telling of their next steps, that they want to incorporate Siri more into our lives. They might even want to have Siri interacting with us as we're walking around and have Siri push notifications to us and do things like that.

Phillip: [00:21:49] Yeah, the thing that that Google Glass was supposed to have done for us.

Brian: [00:21:54] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:21:55] Yeah. So I like this. I think it's interesting to be able to have Siri there. They're putting Siri everywhere now, but I'm sort of thinking, I don't know, I don't interact with Siri a whole lot because I only have Siri on my iPad. So I can't really say one way or another. I know who does interact with Siri a lot is... What a terrible segue... Is the inventor of Siri.

Brian: [00:22:23] Well, you'd think he would, but no good, good transition there. This is a great article. So this just came out on September 10th.

Phillip: [00:22:35] Yeah. Babak Hodjat, who is the basically the Founder of Sentient Technologies, which he's the what they would call the inventor of Siri. Yeah. He was interviewed in Business Insider. I didn't read the whole article. So maybe you can kind of give us a little bit of a synopsis.

Brian: [00:23:01] He was just kind of thrown a little shade in Alexa's direction and said that he is not saying that it's not quite ready yet. I think that he basically said it's a little side niche, and it's just something to play around with.

Phillip: [00:23:30] The main reason is such a stupid reason. I don't know. It's a silly reason. He says it's because it doesn't have a screen. Because it doesn't have a screen, so it's only controlled by your voice, so, you know, how can that be an engaging experience?

Brian: [00:23:46] Which is actually not completely true. You can actually connect. There is a little bit of an interaction with Alexa on your screen via the app.

Phillip: [00:23:55] Yeah, of course. But it doesn't give you... But his point is that you can consume so much more at a glance than you can from just voice alone or from speech. The thing is, I think people who are friends in the accessibility world and those with disabilities who might be listening to this podcast, they suffer through this all the time. This is not an uncharted territory trying to digest massive amounts of information purely over speech. Just try looking up movie times with Alexa and you'll find out exactly how hard that is.

Brian: [00:24:40] Interesting, I didn't realize that this guy also founded Sentient.ai.

Phillip: [00:24:46] Yeah.

Brian: [00:24:47] They've got some really cool tools. We should talk about them more at length in another episode.

Phillip: [00:24:52] Yeah.

Brian: [00:24:53] But they've got some really cool eCommerce tools that I've looked at before, including some like AI stuff for a/b testing that looks awesome.

Phillip: [00:25:04] I love that. Yeah, I love that. That's great.

Brian: [00:25:07] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:25:09] Cool. Well, at any rate, I think it's evident, you know, Amazon and Apple are competing a lot more in the space if from a commerce perspective, which is the whole center theme of our podcast, who in the of the two is better positioned to capture commerce opportunities? You would think it's Amazon. But, you know, Apple's payment platform is coming about pretty quickly. And I think you control payments, you control the world.

Brian: [00:25:47] That's true. But Amazon does have a payments tool, as well. But yes, let's talk about Apple's payment tools because it just launched for the Web, which is a really big deal. It's good. It's going to be pretty seamless. They announced that actually back in spring.

Phillip: [00:26:03] Yeah. Forever ago. Yeah.

Brian: [00:26:05] Right? And now it's finally available.

Phillip: [00:26:07] Apple Pay Web is what we're talking about, right?

Brian: [00:26:10] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's so cool. Like when you actually hit "pay..." Well that's kind of annoying. You can only use it in Safari right now, but you hit "pay" and then it shoots an auth to your phone and you can do the auth with your fingerprint, which is super sharp.

Phillip: [00:26:24] Yeah. Yeah. Touch ID and you can authorize the payment right there. Bang.

Brian: [00:26:31] Yeah, I think... Did we talk about this when it actually came out?

Phillip: [00:26:33] It was WWDC. It was I think our first episode. It was announced at WWDC after it had already been soft, I think soft demoed or piloted with Shopify eCommerce platform. But I think that this is awesome because this hints at the thing that we love to think about is how are right now the digital commerce and traditional commerce channels are still separated. They're becoming closer. And this puts the two one and the same for me, because real life authentication really closes a security loophole or a security gap. And so I really feel like this is much bigger than I think anybody really gets because it's going to enable a whole new level of payments and probably instill a little bit of new life back in Apple's mobile strategy, both with mobile Safari and Safari on desktop. So it's an interesting play. I love the idea.

Brian: [00:27:45] Yeah. I love the idea, too. I think, initially, it might take a little bit for adoption because merchants are going to have to go and actually add it to their sites and actually start... Which will require some integration and, you know, just thinking through different scenarios. So I think it'll be a bit before we really start to see this become more pervasive. But once it does...

Phillip: [00:28:12] If anybody can do this, it's Apple. Look what they did in the space of a year with mobile payments.

Brian: [00:28:20] No joke. That's so true.

Phillip: [00:28:20] Apple... And that's harder by a long way because of the diversity of the point of sale and enterprise by hardware is not an easy thing to solve for. And if anyone can do it, it's Apple. And they did it with great partnerships.

Brian: [00:28:34] This has already been pioneered.

Phillip: [00:28:36] This is it. This has been done. This is not a new thing.

Brian: [00:28:40] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:28:40] And they're just using the same, just to get a little bit into the tech a bit, they're using the exact same process that Apple Pay has been using at point of sale. It's just a digital pan. It's the D Pan. This is not a new technology either, by the way, but single use credit card numbers that are used in sort of disposable... I think it should integrate very cleanly with most any eCommerce or traditional eCommerce application. I really want to see this. I really hope that it's really just not focused only for visual web experiences. But if it were open on the payment side to be able to push those off payments from conversational on like Facebook Messenger or from Slack or something like that...

Brian: [00:29:32] Yeah. That would be sick.

Phillip: [00:29:32] That's the next level, because that for me marries all of these current tech trends that are pushing us toward future commerce behaviors.

Brian: [00:29:45] Yeah, for sure, good stuff. Speaking of conversational, we were both looking at an article recently here that I found really like a pretty solid article out of VentureBeat by a guy named Matt Swanson.

Phillip: [00:30:01] Yep.

Brian: [00:30:03] I just want to call out a couple of things, because we talk about conversational, obviously, quite a bit on his show.And I'll post the link in the notes for this episode. But there's just some really interesting things I think to call out. Granted some of this was from you know, he's kind of pulled together from different resources, like he quotes Mary Meeker her 2016 Internet report, which we've referenced that a couple of times, and some other stuff. So the article is called the 200 Billion Dollar Chat Bot Disruption, and I particularly like part two. It just talks about how Generation Y is just so far further in using voice, or actually not voice, but chat in social media to actually do business contact, which is so true. I mean, I'm not even in Generation Y, but I see this happening more and more. And I as a part of... I guess actually according to this, I am part of Generation Y, which is funny.

Phillip: [00:31:22] Yeah. Which is the millennial generation. The word you hate.

Brian: [00:31:25] Yeah, I hate that word. Actually, yeah. I really hate that word.

Phillip: [00:31:32] {laughter} That's OK. That's OK.

Brian: [00:31:34] But, yeah...

Phillip: [00:31:36] Actually can we dissect that a little bit? I think you only hate it because it's always associated with some sort of disdain. It is descriptive of a generation of people that were born around the turn of the millennium. It's not...

Brian: [00:31:47] That's fair. The reason why I hate the term, certainly there is a certain amount of disdain whenever it's used. No doubt. But more importantly, I feel like it's really just bad marketing really. And what do you mean by that is I think this is a little bit of my pet theory right now, but what people used to use to separate generations, like the age ranges and people's common experience and how they think about things... That gap is closing such that these generations are actually more like five years as the use of technology is increasing. Yeah, exactly. So like my experience from, say, a 23 year old or I guess not like five years back, a 26 year old is actually a fairly drastically different experience growing up than I had. They grew up getting a cell phone at age 12 or whatever. They've always had broadband, you know, they hardly know what a dial up modem sounds like. It's just almost night and day, like what I played with and what I had as a child versus someone five years for me. And I think it really does change the way that I think about the world and how they think about the world.

Phillip: [00:33:21] Right. All those are fair. Yeah, that's all fair. I think you're right on all of those things.

Brian: [00:33:31] So forget the term millennial.

Phillip: [00:33:33] OK, fine. So but the term, I think what I'm trying to drive at is that, so this article in VentureBeat talks about how in particular you kind of hit on and already not just about the popularity of business contact channels, which now that we're talking about this, I feel like we've talked about this before.

Brian: [00:33:58] We have.

Phillip: [00:33:59] Yeah, but the potential salary savings created by chat bots, which makes me want to talk about the future of the workforce again, because forget salary savings. Put that aside for a minute. But there was a pretty interesting concept... Progressive, this actually is in the VentureBeat article, we should, you know, just go read the VentureBeat article, but actually they talked about some of the acquisition of it was a different insurance company that Progressive took on that was almost fully self-service and automated online. I forget the name of it.

Brian: [00:34:44] Geico?

Phillip: [00:34:45] No, no, no, no, no, no. It's going to drive me nuts. Everybody out there has it on the tip of their tongues and they're just waiting for us right now to get it. It doesn't matter.

Brian: [00:34:56] I should probably go back and look at it.

Phillip: [00:34:58] Yeah. So anyway, long story short, they had this, it's just it's the future. Instead of employing hundreds of adjusters and thousands of customer service personnel and salespeople to sort of sell these policies, most of these things became self-service online. And I think what we're seeing now is it's not when you look at some of the data that's come out and we'll have to link up some articles to prove it. But when you look at some of the data that's come out, the jobs that are being lost in the United States of America are not just in manufacturing areas, but they're happening all over the country, usually associated in areas of industry where insurance is big. So Connecticut's seeing people... Connecticut and and what is the huge... Mutual of Omaha... Nebraska, so Nebraska, seeing a huge migration of people that are leaving and moving to other places where there's more opportunity. I think what we're seeing is it's really not that people overseas are taking our jobs and that jobs are being shipped overseas to be done at a lower price. That certainly is happening. But I think it's that there's such an automation, a level of automation that's happening from a technological revolution point of view that's replacing the need to have such a large workforce. And it's not a new concept. I'm not breaking any ground saying that. But I think when you look at the data, it's really interesting to say that, hey, we're going to keep seeing, you know, chat bots might just replace.

Brian: [00:36:43] APIs? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:36:44] I mean, that's a great article. Great segue, by the way. That's a great article.

Brian: [00:36:52] Yeah. Another the article that I should post. There's an article on Chatbox Magazine, which is something that we definitely wanted to refer...  

Phillip: [00:37:01] Big, big shout out to them, because if you're interested in conversational at all or chat bots in general, a great place to go get some news there.

Brian: [00:37:11] Yeah, yeah. There was an article posted by Josh Barkin. Oh no, I'm sorry. That's the wrong article. Shoot. Now I don't have it up. I started digging around, but... Yeah, I think so, Zack Matthew posted an article about conversational bots and the future of APIs, and this article gets into that idea that basically APIs could evolve into bots because they actually, you know, it's a conversational sort of communication back and forth between two entities, which really implies a bot could take it over.

Phillip: [00:37:53] Yeah. Well, I think what's really interesting about that is we use APIs to build these bots right now. In fact, on ChabotsMagazine.com, they have a step by step tutorial on how to build a Pokemon chat bot, which is kind of fun. But yeah, it's... Listen, all of these things are an API only exists for us to be able to communicate in some standard way with a computer and or to negotiate some sort of request from a computer.

Brian: [00:38:26] Right.

Phillip: [00:38:27] And so as chat bots or machine learning or any of these bot, you know, any of this AI starts to mature and it understands natural language, then, yeah, I think anything that has very rigid language or linguistic interfaces, APIs included, are ripe for revolution because, you know, these things will be adding some flexibility. One thing I am building because I'm building this, you know, Alexa skill right now for our podcast, which is so simplistic. But when you think about the way that people are going to use the skill, it's exercising a different part of my brain. I'm a developer by trade. I've been a developer for 15 years. And I'm not an interface designer, you know. So when I start thinking about what are the ways that people could ask to want to play an episode or what are some of the ways that I would want to as a customer or a listener be able to interact with, you know, with the skill? You really have to anticipate and be very, very explicit. You look at some of these skill templates that Amazon provides, and you have to be extremely explicit with a little bit of flexibility on how requests are formatted and how they're being asked. So they're still very rigid is the point I'm trying to make. And you have to anticipate a lot. So, yeah, some revolution there would be so helpful.

Brian: [00:40:02] Yeah. Man, a few things that we've said today on the show, like how, you know, bots can replace work for us. We talk about a shorter work we have, you know. You know, I think this kind of I mean, I don't want to... Should I go here now?

Phillip: [00:40:18] Yeah, just go for it. Yeah.

Brian: [00:40:19] No, no, no, no. We've got other stuff to hit on first.

Phillip: [00:40:22] No, no, no. The other stuff can wait.

Brian: [00:40:24] Let's come back to this.

Phillip: [00:40:24] The stuff can wait. No, no, no. This is the show we made this show the way this worked. We're now talking about this stuff. Say it.

Brian: [00:40:31] Oh I know. But I wanted to get the feedback we've heard on the show before I jumped into this. But I mean, think about this. Are we like is the shortened days on work force maybe related? That's probably not related to... I know it's not related to tech sort of taking over parts of what we do. But it I think, you know, with the stats we were looking at in the VentureBeat article, maybe there is actually potentially, and I'm not saying I actually believe this, but let me just toss this out there, a darker side to this where, you know, as we build out more more efficient technologies and so on, there's going to be a bit of upheaval in terms of how we employ. And what is the high paid job going to look like? What is a low paid job going to look like? We are talking about the conversational economy. What does that actually mean? So I think one of the points he makes in the VentureBeat article is that actually these call centers will actually be manned by high paid chat bot managers, right?

Phillip: [00:41:48] Yeah.

Brian: [00:41:49] And so let's head down into the feedback of our show real quick, because I think...

Phillip: [00:42:00] This is gets into that. We can talk about it a little bit, yeah.

Brian: [00:42:03] Yeah. So, yeah, recently we've had some pretty awesome feedback from our listeners. I think my favorite feedback so far was from Joe Constant, who tweeted a new drinking game. Listen to @CommerceFuture and drink every time you hear "There's no reason why."

Phillip: [00:42:25] There's no reason why you couldn't play this game at home.

Brian: [00:42:28] Oh, exactly. I'd say, you know, there's no reason why you shouldn't get drunk playing this game.

Phillip: [00:42:34] There's no reason why you shouldn't tweet Joe Constant and ask him to play this game with you on Skype. Oh, yeah, I love this because it actually it's shown me something. So he said that kind of on the heels of some other feedback that you'll get to hear in a second. But it sort of yeah. When you take an objective look at how we've been looking at this first 10 episode stretch, that is very good feedback.

Brian: [00:43:02] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:43:03] So thank you, Joe. Thank you for that. Yeah.

Brian: [00:43:03] I mean, I think we get some great feedback from Gail, who said "Really great job so far. I'm loving this podcast. It's interesting to hear where commerce is headed," but that kind of leads us to kind of some other feedback we got, which is really interesting. And I love this. Yeah. So I'm just going to this is from one of our listeners. I'm just going to. Do you want to read it?

Phillip: [00:43:27] Yeah sure. Sure. Yeah. It's pretty long, but I think this is so useful, this feedback. Yeah. And so this is from our listener, Pyotr Kominsky. He said... He sent me a direct message and it said at Philwinkle. So he, you know, hit me up on Twitter. He said, "I haven't seen a good place to discuss Future Commerce. So I'm just going to vent to you here." Well, Pyotr, you can actually leave in the Disqus feedback box below on the site.

Brian: [00:43:57] That is right.

Phillip: [00:43:58] "First, I wanted to say I really enjoyed it. There's a lot of quality content and good discussion there, but my perception of the show is everything will be awesome. And I have two major problems with that. The first is I do understand that you guys take a very United States centric view of the world and technology, but it doesn't show the major crisis that Europe is undergoing right now. The crisis results in nationalists and fascist groups winning or getting voted out ahead in many countries. And I believe that this is going to have a major impact on country levels like regulation and protectionist practices that will stifle European Union wide eCommerce." And that's a great point, actually. He goes on to say, "This is the optimistic scenario. A pessimistic one could be possibly a war or major unrest that could lead to crisis, wipe out a lot of the types of things that you're talking about." And then he talks about some things like innovations happening based on, you know, things that are happening that are going to be entirely dependent on immigration or these are all novelties essentially. They're non-essential products, things that aren't food and water and shelter. And they all increase the amount of money that we're spending. And so he goes on to basically say in the event that there is a global crisis, we're not really worried about, the things we're worried about are nonessential right now. The things we're talking about in this podcast are non-essential. So I think that that's really interesting. Oh, he does finish up with one really great point, which is "Silicon Valley folks can only buy so many Alexas. So I consider a lot of these technologies and what you say, what you're talking about are going to stay limited to very specific demographics. Not getting mainstream. If they don't get mainstream, then will be rather limited return on investment from any sellers that cater to the larger audiences. The Bonobos and Warby Parker's of the world can use them to be successful for sure. But Walmart probably not so much. Up until Episode 6 I haven't heard any discussion about changes in commerce that could affect everybody and I haven't seen a lot of things..." Basically he doesn't think that we're going in that direction. So he would like to see something that revolutionizes commerce or eCommerce, not just for people in Silicon Valley, but also for, you know, truck drivers and everyone else. So he wants to see us tone down the optimism of the show slightly. But I think that that's just the best email ever.

Brian: [00:46:36] It is. It's a really fantastic. Because the thing is, I mean, if you look back at history and I'm not going to get too political or too historical, but, you know, this world isn't without its upheavals. And so you see a lot of this come up in pop culture. I think it's almost like, did you see Stranger Things?

Phillip: [00:47:02] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's a great show.

Brian: [00:47:05] It is a great show. No doubt. Yeah, it's like the what do they call it? The under? The underneath?

Phillip: [00:47:13] The upside down.

Brian: [00:47:13] The upside down. That's right. Yeah. Oh yeah.

Phillip: [00:47:17] It's the alternate universe, the parallel universe that the monster lives in. And that's you know, he's describing the upside down is what he does.

Brian: [00:47:30] Yeah, exactly. And, you know, I'm a pretty optimistic person, but I'm not going to say that I don't see that there is danger ahead potentially. There's a lot of upheaval in the world. That said, I think that what is happening in Silicon Valley and not just Silicon Valley, but lots of places throughout the US and I think he does definitely make a really great point. A lot of what we have said on this show has been pretty US centric. And so, you know, a lot of stuff happening in US and throughout the world that are making a really positive impact on our lives today. But, yeah, there definitely is sort of, you know, a lot of concerns. And I think you've hit on those throughout our shows, like the body gate episode.

Phillip: [00:48:21] Yeah.

Brian: [00:48:21] You're the first one to say, like what about privacy? What about security? We've talked about this many times. There may be something that we're giving up as we go forward with this. And I've talked to a lot of other millennials that were kind of in this spot that I'm in and which is like, yeah, we're kind of concerned about privacy and security, but not nearly as much as the generation before us.

Phillip: [00:48:52] Right.

Brian: [00:48:53] And so is that actually a problem? There are much bigger implications, kind of like when I was driving at before we hit this feedback, which is, you know, people losing jobs in call centers and things like that. Now, I would definitely contend... This is just, you know, my sort of belief that, you know, if we continue to innovate, jobs are going to present themselves because there's going to be other more important things to do than sort of less skilled positions.

Phillip: [00:49:30] Well possibly. To take his position, it's how much work is there really when there's war in your own country? And so the question I think becomes for me, well, technology is not going to stop innovating. I mean, you look even through the greatest conflicts in the last century.

Brian: [00:49:54] You could say that actually conflicts have brought about innovation.

Phillip: [00:49:58] That's what I was going to say. So World War Two out of that spun the space race, nuclear technologies.

Brian: [00:50:08] Cold War brought crazy stuff.

Phillip: [00:50:09] I mean, those conflicts create amazing opportunities for us to innovate. And while they're not the innovation that's, you know, buying crap, you know, from your living room with your voice, it might be asking Siri where the closest bread and soup line are. So, I mean, that's such a terrible thing to say. But I really mean that.

Brian: [00:50:31] Actually. And I think... I think that there are the people there are a lot of other people that are out there, even in Silicon Valley, that I think are thinking about this. You look at I think Y Combinator is doing a study on base income. Have you heard about this?

Phillip: [00:50:48] Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. Like a standard living wage.

Brian: [00:50:52] Yeah, exactly. It's basically like everyone gets paid for just as a base part of living. And you know, I'm not saying that, that I think a lot of people flip that around and be like, well, isn't this just like basically welfare for everyone? But then there's several different variations of this. I do think there is something here, though, which is as automation makes our lives more and more efficient are we going to see the whole one percent, 99 percent split get even bigger and bigger?

Phillip: [00:51:32] Seems to be hinting that that's the direction we're heading. But I would also say that a lot really depends on having some stability for the next few years, you know, economically, and we've had a little bit of we've had some stability here in the United States. I think we're trying to hold on to that. I think something really interesting is, you see the all the development and all of the VC money right now is going toward FinTech. And I really think there's probably five or six investment apps I could list off the top of my head. There's Betterment. There's all kinds of ones out there. It's kind of interesting because so many people are putting investment into how to save for retirement or how to squirrel away money by kind of shaving those round up transactions. You know, there's all of that kind of tech advancement is happening right now. And it's good advancement. And it's just it's not necessarily the types of things that we're talking about on the show, but I do think that they are things that are bread, you know, in times of peace and times of relative abundance, but we're going to need it to stay this way for a little while, for us to get to a place where we have so many people and not enough jobs that a living wage is a thing that we we seriously have to look at. And you can probably look at some very, very small nations with much smaller workforces to be leading the charge on that.

Brian: [00:53:18] Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah. Yeah, like you said. I think, oh gosh... I think there was a country in the Netherlands that was actually, or in Scandinavia that was actually pioneering base income for the entire nation.

Phillip: [00:53:36] Yeah, yeah. I remember this. This was, so I remember Sweden was doing a...

Brian: [00:53:42] Was it Sweden?

Phillip: [00:53:42] I'm sorry. They were working on a six hour workday. I believe maybe Finland was talking about a living wage. But, you know, at the end of the day, it's going to be a long time, I think, before we're quite there. And a lot of things have to change for something... Again, I think we are taking the everything is awesome approach. There's a lot of problems and drawbacks to living wage. I think that doesn't come for free. There's something like you said, we're giving up to get to that sort of a society. And it's hardly a utopia.

Brian: [00:54:18] Yeah. I think that's a really great point.

Phillip: [00:54:20] There's always going to be a lot of people who want to, you need to be able to express your own individuality. And some people like to work really hard. Some people like to not work hard. And so you can't just clump everybody together and put them all at the same financial bracket. Plus, you know, some people have medical problems and so they'd have to use part of their money to pay for that. There's all kinds of things that would make this a very difficult proposition.

Brian: [00:54:49] Totally.

Phillip: [00:54:49] But at the end of the day, if we look where we've come from, you mentioned Stranger Things. Look where we've come from in the 33 years since that show was set in 1983. Look where we are. You know, you look at that show and there there's a lot that's really, really, really changed from their world to ours.

Brian: [00:55:12] No joke, man. I mean, her corded phone gets fried, right?

Phillip: [00:55:18] Corded phone, which sparked this incredible discussion. I don't know if you if you read it, if you read it on Reddit, but there was a whole amazing discussion about the AT&T monopoly on phones at the time in 1983. Did you know this?

Brian: [00:55:37] No, I didn't catch this.

Phillip: [00:55:38] Yeah. Home phones were only available and there was a whole government, there was a whole law, a telecommunications law, that had to be passed to sort of break up their monopoly in this area. AT&T wouldn't really sell you a phone. They would only rent it to you for like five bucks a month. And so and there were really the only place where you could get a phone. And so they were saying, oh, this is sort of an anachronistic thing because she went in to go buy the phone at the drugstore. You could not have done that in 1983, which is something I never knew. But, you know, that was rotary dial, and there was so much that's just changed. You see how much of the time the kids spend outside? So much of the time. You know, they're kind of riding around on their bikes so much of the time.

Brian: [00:56:29] This is what I'm saying about the word millennial. Like, even those kids had like a different childhood than I did.

Phillip: [00:56:36] Yeah, me too.

Brian: [00:56:36] Like kids that were born in 1980 had a different childhood than kids that born in 1985. I mean, not maybe not quite as drastic. But let me tell you, kids born in 1985 had a drastically different child than kids born in say 1991.

Phillip: [00:56:54] Yeah, anyway.

Brian: [00:56:57] Oh, man, I had a thought while you were talking, it's just a second ago, but it's just back really quickly back to base income and again, like darker side. Really. OK, like we talked about this, but we really we will have someone come on. This is really not giving this the treatment it deserves. I'd really like to get someone on the show and interview them about this. But yeah, maybe we could get your pal.

Phillip: [00:57:28] Yankovich?

Brian: [00:57:29] Not Yankovich. Although I would love to get Yankovich on the show. Definitely. No, no, no, no. Cal Evans.

Phillip: [00:57:41] Oh Cal could talk to the ends of the Earth about this stuff. Yeah. He's like the best kind of curmudgeon.

Brian: [00:57:49] We are definitely going to get Cal on the show. If you're listening, you're coming on the show.

Phillip: [00:57:52] Cal Evans, you need to join us.

Brian: [00:57:54] He's definitely a bit of an inspiration for us, too.

Phillip: [00:57:59] For sure.

Brian: [00:58:00] He started the Voices of the Elephant podcast way back when.

Phillip: [00:58:06] I think he has three or four podcasts at this point. He's definitely prolific in that space. But, yeah, I would love I'd love to have him on the show. And anyone you know, we'd love to hear your thoughts, too. We want your feedback on this episode. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of the workforce and how it's going to impact us, because at the end of the day, if we're all trying to follow our dreams and our passions and as merchants or as developers or as business owners, we're all engaging in commerce in some way. And this is going to affect us. This is real stuff.

Brian: [00:58:46] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:58:46] Yeah. So we'd love to hear more about that. I think we're almost out of time. Do you want to take us home?

Brian: [00:58:52] No, wait, wait. Let me finish my thought because...

Phillip: [00:58:54] He's got one more thought, OK.

Brian: [00:58:56] Yeah. Yeah. I was getting to it, and I interrupted myself.

Phillip: [00:58:58] Yeah.

Brian: [00:58:59] I'm really good at interrupting myself.

Phillip: [00:59:01] Do it. Give it to me.

Brian: [00:59:03] So OK. Base income being piloted by Y Combinator and others. What if it's actually not something that a country runs? What if it's something that actually private corporations make available in exchange for opt in on information? Ie, we turn our lives over to Google and you know, we sign up for Google Home and GoogleFy and, you know, we give them the keys to our lives. And in return, we actually get their base income and we get all of their a bunch of their tech. And like all of this stuff in exchange for our everything. Everything but our souls. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:59:53] Yeah. I mean, we'll get our VR headset and our recliner and we can just jack in and will be Wall-e one day.

Brian: [00:59:59] Exactly. Dude, you nailed it.

Phillip: [01:00:01] That's where we're heading.

Brian: [01:00:01] So there you go. Final thought on the dark side.

Phillip: [01:00:04] The dark side of the future of commerce. Welcome to the upside down. Thank you, Pyotr, for taking us to that really dark place.

Brian: [01:00:13] No, totally, totally great.

Phillip: [01:00:15] I really mean that.

Brian: [01:00:16] Actually, we did talk about this a little bit before. And I think, Pyotr, you really did help hammer at home. So thanks for providing us with that feedback. Really do appreciate it.

Phillip: [01:00:24] All right. So I'll let you have the last word. Take us out.

Brian: [01:00:27] All right. Well, thanks for listening to Future Commerce. We mentioned this like ten times on the show today. But we do want you to give us feedback about today's show? So please leave it. Leave it in the Disqus comment box below. If you subscribe on iTunes, leave us the five star review.

Phillip: [01:00:45] Yeah.

Brian: [01:00:46] Because we can always use more of those.

Phillip: [01:00:48] Yes.

Brian: [01:00:49] You can also subscribe to listen to Future Commerce on iTunes and on Google Play or listen to right from your Amazon Echo with the phrase, "Alexa, play Future Commerce podcast."

Phillip: [01:00:59] Yes.

Brian: [01:00:59] Or use our skill coming up.

Phillip: [01:01:03] Yeah. Search for our skill in the store. We're going to have to change that line. Yeah. You got to look for our skill. Play it with a skill.

Brian: [01:01:09] That's right. With that, keep looking towards the future. And we'll see you guys soon.

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