Discover more from Future Commerce
Episode 19
December 29, 2016


Part 1 of 2 of a deep discussion with Brian Roemmele about how voice interaction (and other tech) will revolutionize most everything.

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  • The guys discuss with Roemmele how many buttons in the world, crosswalks, elevator open/close, and more, aren’t even connected. We just need that action to feel like we are controlling something.
  • There are seasons of change as new technology is adopted. And that’s a good thing.
  • Why are the voices and names of these voice assistant tech devices women and what the research has found about that
  • “There are patterns in everything.” - Roemmele
  • “In ten years, fifty percent of your interaction with any computers is going to be via voice, of course voice assistant AI.” - Roemmele
  • What are the pros and cons of the development and implementation of voice technology and a voicefirst world
  • Liberation and communication are huge reasons voice will become more adopted, but there have to be shifts in those beforehand.

Learn more about Brian Roemmele at or @BrianRoemmele on Twitter.

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Phillip: [00:00:23] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip, and we have a special guest for the next two episodes, someone that I honestly, we didn't even know what to do with this episode. Mr. Brian Roemmele, who is a prolific thinker on payments and sort of cutting edge and next generation payments and technologies and voice activated and AI Technologies. Prolific blogger. Writes everywhere. His columns are syndicated all over amazing journals. He's a wonderful mind. And so we had him on the show a few weeks back to come and share what he thinks is the roadmap from 2017 and beyond for the future of commerce. And I'll tell you what, you get Brian Roemmele headed in a direction and you can't stop him. And so we have over two and a half hours of content with him, and we weren't really sure how to even publish this. So we're going to do this in two parts. So what follows is Part 1 of 2. Brian Roemmele on Future Commerce.

Brian L: [00:01:44] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:48] I'm Phillip.

Brian L: [00:01:49] And today we have one of the most interesting guests, I think.

Phillip: [00:01:53] Well, that we'll ever have.

Brian L: [00:01:56] Yeah, I mean, this is...

Phillip: [00:01:57] We can say that definitively.

Brian L: [00:01:59] Yeah. I would agree with that. This guy is wicked smart.

Phillip: [00:02:05] {laughter} Wicked smart {with Boston accent}

Brian L: [00:02:06] He's got some crazy stories that we've already heard and I'm sure we'll get them in there somehow. Really cool stuff going on. So Brian Roemmele. He's from the podcast Around the Coin. He's also got other companies he's involved in. And I'm really excited to talk with him. And so I'm sure we'll get a more formal introduction here in a second. But this is awesome.

Phillip: [00:02:32] Yeah. The thing that I'm most excited about is I love when we have a... I love when we have a guest who is so passionate about what they're talking about that you sort of just set them in a direction and let them go. And and I felt that way with all of our guests recently. But I don't think anyone's going to top Brian in enthusiasm.

Brian L: [00:02:55] I think that all of our guests would probably agree with that, actually.

Phillip: [00:02:57] {laughter} That's great. And in the meantime, we'd love your feedback if you can. Go ahead, and I know you're going to be glued to everywhere that Brian's going to say here in just a second. But I need you to go on right now. I want you to hit that link at the top. That's going to take you to iTunes. I need you to subscribe right now. Go give us a five star on iTunes. Don't delay whatever you have to do. Grab your friend's phone, grab your mom's phone, grab your sister's phone, grab your husband's phone, your wife's phone. I want you to subscribe for us right now because we need the reviews. We want to get this podcast out to as many people as we possibly can. You can also hit it up on Google Play and it's also available on TuneIn Radio through Alexa. So if you want to listen to it while you're milling about in the kitchen, all you have to do is say, "Alexa, play Future Commerce podcast."

Brian L: [00:03:50] You definitely are going to want to subscribe. As you listen to this show, you'll see like this is some really fun stuff.

Phillip: [00:03:57] Ok, so we started the show while you were gone. Yeah, we just started. So you're here. Welcome.

Brian R: [00:04:02] Ok.

Brian L: [00:04:02] All right.

Phillip: [00:04:03] Yeah. So, Brian, actually, could you introduce yourself for the audience at home that may not know who you are and what you do and what you're about?

Brian R: [00:04:10] Well, first gentleman, pleasure to be here. Loved our pre show. Brian and Phillip are amazing individuals, so this is going to be a fun time. I'm Brian Roemmele. I'm kind of interested in a lot of things. I've spent a lot of my life inside of payments. I see payments a lot more than just a transaction. I see it from a philosophical level. Really involved in technology. The convergence of what I really believe is the next levels of technology. And currently I really feel that speech, voice interaction with computers is one of those things. So it's kind of my interest right at the moment. That and just the startup environment, the incredible amount of creativity and vitality that's coming up inside the creativity of the startup environment. It's really an historical time, in my view.

Phillip: [00:05:03] I was familiar with your name from the payments, you know, the payments area. I sort of consider you to be a luminary in that space. I know that there's a lot of interesting work you've done in that space. Can you sort of tout some of the stuff, besides being like, you know, a god on Quora. What else?

Brian R: [00:05:23] Oh my gosh.

Phillip: [00:05:23] {laughter} What else do you have? What might people know you from?

Brian R: [00:05:28] Well, you know, I'm infamous, I guess. I don't know. I've only, listen, my social media for most of my existence beyond MySpace, which was more from the musical aspect of my life, you know, and maybe even I'll date everybody. You know, more recently, Quora. I found Quora to be incredible. If we look at history, it's the Library of Alexandria, hopefully never to be burnt down, of our epoch. And what the Library of Alexandria was, is, you know, when it burnt down, the Dark Ages began. So we can pretty much look at about 2016 years ago, we had accumulated the entire knowledge set of society, all the histories, all of the tragedies, all of the things that the Greek culture later built itself on. Or sorry, the Roman culture later built itself on, and the Greek culture sort of started to realize that it was a lot more going on with humanity around the world than anybody could imagine. And we created a cultural lobotomy. That was a time when in history where human beings said, you know, "What's his brain thing doing here? Let me pop this out." And we lobotomized humanity for two thousand... Well, I don't want to say two thousand years. I would say it wasn't until the Enlightenment and the Italian Renaissance that we finally got creativity and humanity back up. When you have that much knowledge in one place, and you're tasked with trying to synthesize that knowledge and original creative thought... There are two processes. There is creative thought, and there is a synthesis of creative thought. And one would argue that all creative thought is a form of synthesis because you can't separate the fish from the water. Right?

Phillip: [00:07:28] Right.

Brian R: [00:07:28] And you're going to be influenced by everything that's around you. We see that music. That's why genres are developed. That's why you know that that's a rip off poser artist, and you know, all these different things that we hear in that thing. And we could see it also taking place in a modern context within apps and app development. So Quora was that sort of Alexandrian library because it was first person re-accounting knowledge of information. It's not Wikipedia. You want "facts?" Whatever that means. Because facts change, as science improves. Right? It was a fact at one time there was no such thing as creepy crawlers that are on our fingers. We don't need to wash our hands after cutting off a gangrene leg and delivering a baby, because you can't show me where those invisible creepy crawlies are.

Phillip: [00:08:13] Right.

Brian R: [00:08:14] And then a guy came along and said, well, there might be a technology that comes along sooner or later. I'm paraphrasing. It's called the microscope. And we might actually see it. And then will you believe me? No. It took a generation of doctors to die off to accept that there were invisible things even after they saw it under the microscope. I always use that whenever I talk about technology, because there is the old guard and a lot of people who think the old guard is a bunch of old people. Not necessarily. It's the people who buy into a paradigm and fear the change. And they always want to drag along something from the old to inform them how the new is going to look. Yeah, Quora helped me a lot in a sense that it expanded me to contact people who there's no way it would have ever known existed. Who knows? Just like, for example, Quora had an expert on automatic stoplights. Traffic control systems expert. This guy you would never have heard unless he was your uncle. And it's Thanksgiving. And he started talking about how these machines work.

Phillip: [00:09:14] Right, right.

Brian R: [00:09:15] Well, nerds like me, I can't stop going down that road and you'll get that vibe from me. And he started talking about how these stoplights work. And it's the one that blew my mind. You know, the crossing button on all the crossing buttons and most of the New York City crosswalks are not connected anymore. We disconnected them in 1986.

Phillip: [00:09:35] Right. {laughter}

Brian R: [00:09:35] Mind blown.

Phillip: [00:09:36] Sure.

Brian R: [00:09:37] Sitting there in New York City. OK, let me get it for you. OK, got the button. It beeps. It even lights up. Some of them. Ain't doing a thing. Ain't doing a thing. It's all psychological. And I'll tell you, they did studies on it. And I don't know if it's intentionality. I don't know if it's, you know, the ordering of the world through physics, the observer effect. Reverse entropy. People absolutely 100 percent believe that that crossing control device is operating the light. And some of them are, by the way, but most of them aren't. And the biggest reason why they're still there is not so nefarious. It's because it costs what it costs them a few million dollars to remove them all. So somebody had the bright idea to maintain them and let them stay there and and let the lights light up and let kids play with them. It keeps the kids occupied. And I would advocate and this is what this guy said, he said there's a lot less kids being run over because they're busy pressing a button instead of running out in traffic. And I love that having kids. Yeah. Press that button, especially in Vegas. I won't go that route. So Quora gave me that. By the way, I'll blow everybody else's mind. Most elevator open and close buttons.

Phillip: [00:10:53] Yeah.

Brian R: [00:10:53] Don't work. They're not even connected.

Brian L: [00:10:56] Believe that.

Brian R: [00:10:58] And that's on purpose. That's just to make people feel like they're in control. I'm in control of this elevator now. You've got to have the key and that key is an override and you got your leg in the door. It's going it's because that override key overrides the sensors.

Phillip: [00:11:13] One of my favorite memes that popped up recently was people taking, you know, disparate random pictures of everyday objects and saying assigning like a UI in a UX moniker to it. And it sort of blew up to become like it started out as like UI being, you know, the elevator open button. Right. But now it's just become like a bananas and like a Teddy Ruxpin. It has nothing to do with each other.

Brian R: [00:11:39] It just goes off the edge. So I digressed there a bit. But basically that's how I got into social media and I was anti Facebook and Twitter. And then somebody said, hey, Brian, there are a whole lot of people talking about about you on Twitter. I go, I'm not going to go out there and look. It's probably bad. No, it's good stuff. And so I had an account forever and I just I think 2015 I turned it on. And I've gotten a lot of exposure through there. People think I'm purposely controversial. And to me, I'm like, I'm giving you my free stuff. Because my logic is I better give away five percent of what I know minimally. And I sometimes go a little bit more. But on the other stuff, I have to feed myself and my family. So I try to hopefully help companies. Hopefully they pay me sometimes. A lot of times I just do it out of... No. I literally do it out of love for the what the company is doing. I mean, companies that are in payments that are starting up, you know, I'll sit there and talk to CEOs and Founders and stuff and  great idea. Move along, Brian. And then all of a sudden two years later, they start doing it and saying, well, it'd be nice to get a residual from that, you know. But, you know, but seriously, I really like to engage people to think. I talked about the whole experience of the defenders of the status quo. We're in that epoch now. I believe that this next five year period is going to be the defenders of the status quo, sort of epoch. Because nobody is quite sure what the next big thing is. And whenever that happens, people tend to hold on to what they believe the last thing was. And so the whole paradigm is a smartphone, the whole paradigm. We talked about it pre show of the app economy. And, you know, you hold on to that because you get scared. And I go, well, that's what the old people felt like when you disrupted maps and you disrupted taxicabs and you disrupted restaurant delivery companies, mom and pop restaurants, you know, and it all comes full circle. And if you're around long enough, you get to see these cycles because everything has a cycle to it. It will never change. And there's going to be a spring, summer, winter and fall. Right? Probably. I'd like to start with spring, you know. And in spring, you know, we're out of the spring of the mobile revolution and we're kind of out of the summer of it. We're entering the fall. And that's not a bad thing. If it's a bad thing, you've got to look at nature and say, oh, that sucks. The trees look like they died. Like my kids. You know, they were raised in Southern California and we go back east and they go "Dad. Mom. The trees are all dying out here." It's so cute, you know, because I go back to Princeton and it's beautiful. You see the leaves falling. But to a kid who maybe saw that but didn't notice it, it's profound when you see the red and oranges and the leaves are falling. And to them, it looks like maybe a violent act, you know, and no, it's nature. It's recycling. So, yeah, that's what's going on in payments. That's what's going on in technology. I call it the voice first revolution. I call it voice first because there's only one hundred and forty characters in a tweet. And conversational commerce is a little too many characters. It's  little hard for me to say and it's a resonation of keyboard first that actually existed in a sense because there was a fight in the early dawn of computer, personal computers, where their punch cards were going to be keyboard operators. And guess who won that? Keyboard operators lost and punch cards won because you can move punch cards much faster than somebody could type. And chew on that for a while. And it kind of inverts your logic. Hold up. Where we start here? Somebody's got to punch the card to get the data on there, but they move faster through a computer. But that's a storage mechanism. But it's also a text entry system. Yeah, that's how it was back then. And when you look at the new paradigm, well we can go into the mouse, right? Everybody, I had arguments in that epoch. Text is faster than the mouse and all of this extra horsepower to drive these cute little windows you people love. Right? These are the anti Mac people. And I got in a fist fight. I didn't start it. At a Comdex where a guy said, "I'm not going to get all of my CPU horsepower given up to move pretty pictures around the screen. And this is a, you know, text only text first, this kind of guy. And I'm like, "That's always going to be there. I'm not advocating that the that the text input mechanism is going away. I'm just saying people are going to navigate and do most of their interaction with the computer through an input device, whether it's a mouse or trackball or whatever, trackpad, it didn't matter the modality, it's not going to be cursor keys." We have cursor keys, but most people if they're young enough right now, they don't even really look at it as a mode of interacting with their computer.

Phillip: [00:16:55] Right.

Brian R: [00:16:56] So I'm kind of saying some of this stuff because probably some of the stuff I see later on will hopefully sound a lot less controversial and make me look less of a prophet and more of just a poser.

Brian L: [00:17:10] {laughter}

Phillip: [00:17:10] {laughter} I don't think anybody at this point in 2016 would argue that voice first is something that's outlandish. I do think that a lot of people are looking at voice interaction as something that's not really relevant to how they're actually wanting to interact with technology. It's just something that we keep being told this is what you're supposed to be doing. What's your take on... Because I know you're very into Siri and Alexa and I see you have a Google Home now and all these. So what's your take on the assistants and the things that are happening? And is there really any market demand or is there any consumer uptake on this, or is this just something that's being sort of shoved down our throats?

Brian R: [00:17:54] All the above. I got to make my definitions early so we can understand this. Siri, Alexa, Cortana, even Viv to a certain level. Google. Dammit, guys, just give it the name. Call it Becky. Just give it a name. And, you know, today, everybody saying, Brian, why does it have to be a girl, you know, don't go after me. That's research. It has nothing to do with sexism or gender. Even women prefer to have a female interaction. It has to do with our mom's voice. If you really want to go into the psycho research of it, our moms voice is more calming, our interaction with our devices. So it's actually a really nice thing. So anybody gets up in arms about women assistants, remove the word assistant and understand it's a female voice and it's a calming voice. And it's culturally around the world. I don't care what the culture is. It can be an ancient culture. It's the way it is. So personal assistants and personal and let's call it intelligent agents and intelligent assistants. Siri. None of these devices. Alexa. They're not intelligent agents and they're not intelligent assistants. They are Q&A interaction systems.

Phillip: [00:19:12] Right.

Brian R: [00:19:12] So what's a Q&A? Question. You get an answer. That's not a dialog. That's a Q&A. You and I, unfortunately, because I rattle on, we're not doing Q&A. We're just dialoging. We're conversing. And by the proper sense, we're having a dialog. And we're not at the point yet with these popular devices. It's what I do experimentally. All the research I do on any of these devices is I force them into dialogs and proactive and a premeditative reactionary sort of responses. Why is that? Because once you get out of this silo of I need to ask the question and then it gives me an answer and it doesn't follow up and I don't need to follow up, the utility of that system diminishes logarithmically. And then when you extract the fact that there is no personal assistant or personal intelligence agent or intelligent assistant, then it really drops off. Ok, so where is the intelligent assistant and the intelligent agent? They aren't quite here yet, and it's going to be the revolution of our era how this shapes because you're intelligent assistant is going to know more about you than your significant other. For it to operate effectively, it needs to know all of your loves and hates. And it's going to do that despite you giving it permission and monitoring everything you do on all your devices. So that's machine learning, right? It's not rocket science. You can do it today. I've written many of these things and I suck as a programmer. And all it does is it looks at what for the last year I've had this running, many of them actually. And it looks at everything I do. And there are patterns in everything. Right? Machine learning is about detecting patterns that you yourself do not know and then it gets proactive. What's the first thing I do in the morning? Unfortunately, all of us raise our hand. We're looking at our phone.

Phillip: [00:21:18] Roll over and look at your phone.

Brian R: [00:21:19] Hopefully it's not right next to your head. I'm going to advocate you to have that phone six feet away and face down and turned off. Honestly. I'm a big advocate of blue light problems. You shouldn't have blue light around your retina after 11:00 p.m. It's really going to screw up your melatonin cycle. You're not going to have deep sleep. Don't let me go down that road, but hold me back. But when you wake up. When you wake up, and this is empirical. I've done research in this a number of different studies, let's say 90 percent, it's actually higher, but I'm going to go 90 percent of people that are involved in touching any form of technology. I'm not talking about people I grew up with in eastern Pennsylvania, you know, horse and buggy people and stuff. I mean, these are brilliant people, but they're not involved in technology. People involved in technology. One of the first things they do it is to interact with their device. It's going to probably be an iPhone or an Android device, less likely a computer or tablet. But they still rank in there. And there's certain things that you're going to check. Now if your systems are proactive, it's already going to do it for you and it's going to give you a summary. And it's going to do at the moment you say good morning or whatever you want your activation to be. It might be you roll over and the thing knows you and it kind of says, "Hey, buddy, you better get up. You got a meeting in forty five minutes and traffic sucks."

Brian L: [00:22:53] This is the exact story that we've been talking about. Keep going, keep going. But yeah, Phillip and I have been mulling this exact story over for quite some time. It's amazing.

Brian R: [00:23:05] All right. So I haven't told a lot of people. I don't even say this on my own show because the guys would pull me in really bad. But and I don't say publicly right now people want me to go to a few conferences. Well, I keep dropping Watson out of this. Watson did something brilliant. Remind me to come back to that.

Phillip: [00:23:25] Yeah will do.

Brian L: [00:23:25] For sure.

Brian R: [00:23:25] You say Watson on a five dollar Raspberry Pi is zero is a freaking revolution. The fact that anybody around the world get a five dollar device and put Watson AI on it is going to spark a revolution. I think it's one of the biggest things that IBM has ever done. And it's going to spark a whole new platform if they do it right. If they don't want to breaking legs on a horse. But anyway, that's not far away. That's just, I don't want to sound arrogant. What's going on right now is that the computer scientists are in charge of the voice AI that we're experiencing right now. There hasn't been a Steve Jobs to come in and say, "Hey, Xerox, you have the future of computing right here and you've had it for the last nine years. Let me steal this stuff and call it Macintosh." And nobody's even debating that that didn't happen. It happened. Steve literally said great artists steal. Right? And he stole it.

Phillip: [00:24:26] Sure.

Brian R: [00:24:26] And there's nothing wrong with that. That's what we do. He synergized it. He made it better. But you can go back ten years before that and see everything that the Macintosh and Leesha, the entire revolution right there. And it's no accident that the last thing that Steve Jobs did before he passed away was to call Dag. I'm not saying the very last thing. The last company he acquired was called Dag of Siri and to acquire that company. And he said it was one of the future paths of computers, probably orders of magnitude larger than the mobile revolution. And a lot of people think he was just whack. You know, he was old, maybe didn't get it. He did get it and he got it just like he got when he saw the mouse move for the first time. Because what Steve saw, we saw the Star of the Xerox Star or...the Star system. He saw the mouse that was a revolution. He saw the Window and that was revolution. But he didn't see a whole lot more than that. That was all he needed to invent the line that you and I have on our smartphones today. If the Mac didn't exist, the smartphone, as we know it, with the touch screen, wouldn't have existed in a way that we see it today. It needed that history to get to where we are today. It would have had some weird BlackBerry connection that we I don't know how we can imagine what it would look like, but it would have a lot of keys in front of it. You know, it would have a scroll keypad just in case you didn't want to touch the screen and get it dirty. Because some engineer would have come up with that. And I'm an engineer. I can get away with this junk. But all right. So I said that voice right now is in the hands of scientists and engineers, and that's part of the problem. We might call it a Google Glass problem. Right. It is very apropos because Spectacles just went on sale today. I'm telling most of the people that are willing to listen that's the beginning of a revolution of something that most people aren't recognizing. And Evan over at SNAP is building a hardware company and Spectacles is not the future. That's like saying, you know, Apple's sound card on their you know, Apple 2 is their future. Because everybody thought that that's what was going to make Apple really go.

Phillip: [00:26:50] Right.

Brian R: [00:26:51] Because nobody saw what the Apple 2 was going to be, Steve said it's going to be in everybody's home, playing video games and you better have a good sound card because the graphics suck and maybe we make the sound a little better. Because it cost too much. Moore's Law was not playing out. Moore's Law is playing out right now. And today you need the full power of AWS, Amazon's Cloud, or Google's Cloud, or IBM's Cloud to extract the intent of your words. Right now, on a Raspberry Pi, I can do pretty good speaker independent word recognition, and I can probably do ok. I probably wouldn't want to create a device around that because it's hit or miss. And I could probably waste a lot of hours coding and making it better and better. Now, you're probably going to use intent extraction from one of these cloud systems for a while. But there will be a point in time when we get many cores and we're looking and different. I'm not talking quantum computing here yet. It's not that kind of magnitude. But within the next 10 years, we're intent extraction, understanding what does that word really represent? And again, this is all part of the lexicon, right? You're saying a sentence and that sentence can be said a lot of different ways. And when you get really smart, you look at the inflection of that sentence. What word is being highlighted? What modality is it being? What happened just before that sense? What happened just after? Well if there's no speech, here's a couple of things you can do. Where is this person at this moment? Well, they're in their home. What part of their home? They're in the kitchen. And they said, "Hey, I'm hungry." OK, well, they're in the kitchen. And they said, "Hey, I'm hungry." Well, obviously, I don't have arms or legs and I can't move anything. So if they're asking me, "Hey, I'm hungry," that means "Give me some choices." And that probably means a list of restaurants. And that probably means restaurants that you've been to before. And if you really want to get random, it might use new signaling. And one of the signaling I'll give away free today and give away free lot is social signaling. There's over one hundred and eighteen signals we can use in this AI world, that I've identified. And there's more. I'm not... I'm a student of this stuff. Right? So there's going to be more. I just identified one hundred eighteen, but one of them the social signaling. So, you know, Phillip says that he really loves this hot dog lunch truck, this food truck that rolled out in a corner of town somewhere in Florida. Right?

Phillip: [00:29:25] It's like you know me. Yeah.

Brian R: [00:29:26] And what's that?

Phillip: [00:29:28] You know me. Yeah.

Brian R: [00:29:52] Now, my intelligent agent, this is not again, this is not rocket science. I'm not talking about the future, you know, like the Jetsons in 1960. I'm talking you just have to put the code together. And I'm talking to people who are, you know, stealthy startups or they're mostly late teens, early 20s. Most of the innovation that I'm talking about is going to come from people who are not actually making these things today. They're going to be using, just like Steve and Steve used the calculator chips because the 6502 was calculator chip like the 80,008. These are just made for calculators. And the computer scientists laughed at the whole deal. That's not a computer. What do you think? These kids are crazy. They think they're going to make, you know, display drivers work on this and they're going to get a disk drive to work. And Woz proved them wrong. Woz actually programed the display memory inside of the memory itself. Nobody ever did that before. It was theoretical.

Phillip: [00:30:52] Right.

Brian R: [00:30:53] And so that that's going on today in AI. And I'm not trying to insult any of the AI scientists or Google or Viv or Siri, but we will see. We come back to this archive. Bookmark this, folks, and you'll see in 10 years that a few people rose up who were not scientists and they didn't come out with this idea. Well we're going to... We're Google. We're going to come out with a voice assisted AI. You know what we're going to call it? Google. If in fact, I'm even 10 percent right, the most personal device or system you will ever own will be your intelligent assistant or your voice interaction to your computer. And it's going to all come out in different definitions. But let's call it our voice interaction. And do you want to be naming it a company name or do you want to anthropomorphize it? And the idea of anthropomorphism is human beings tend to make things look like other human beings. Well, like we go to Mars and we see a bunch of shadows and we say there's a face on Mars. In reality, there is a real face on Mars and Mars Aliens built it. But, you know, really... No. Not aliens. Some of my followers would believe me to be that, but... Aliens. But, you know, the bottom line is we tend to see in the shadows and rocks anthropomorphism. And the Egyptians, you look all over the place. Egyptians were all about reverse anthropomorphism. And there's other names, the idea of putting animal heads on human bodies, human bodies on animals. The Greeks did this and the Romans. And it's not an accident. It's what we do. Our mind is designed to look for faces at a distance to judge whether it's a friend or foe. So at that distance where somebody can throw a rock at you, literally, if you didn't have the eyes to be able to see the expression on the face of that individual, that being locating their eyes and the proportions of their eyes to their nose, to their mouth, to their you know what muscles are being pulled. There's forty five muscles or so that display emotions in their face. If we weren't able to determine that we didn't win the lottery of survival because we'd probably said, "Hey, that guy looks happy. I'm going to throw a rock up in the air just so he knows that I'm a good guy." Next thing you know, there's a thousand rocks and arrows being slung at you. And you don't get to reproduce. So humans have a preconditioned, hardwired ability to look at other humans. And the same is true with voice. We're always trying to look for something in a voice that reassures us. That's why certain movie voice actors come on and say "Coming soon to a theater near you." You know, these types of things. It's not an accident. The problem is, if you're in Silicon Valley and all you've ever studied was computer science and you weren't really brought up to be an empirical researcher, what happens is you tend to live in sort of an echo chamber and you say, well, you know, "All the voice researchers say a voice should kind of sound like this." Yeah, maybe. It's a pleasant voice. And, you know, all of our gender research and ethnic research studies say that we're an international company and we're going to go all around the world and we don't want to offend anybody by saying it's a girl, even though it is a girl's voice. And we don't want to Americanize it because it primarily speaks really good English and other languages. It doesn't sound so good, you know, and it's just like people get mad. It's like, why do people typing mostly English for search terms, even though they're in another part of the world? Because that's where a lot of the innovation is coming from, has nothing to do with anti culturalism. It's just where these engineers are developing. But that was some of the thinking that went on. And the thing is, in ten years, it's going to look ridiculous. And why is that important, because if, in fact, we are going to get that close to our intelligence assistants and our intelligence agents. Our intelligent assistant is the manifestation of what we deal with every day, the intelligence agent is really sort of a program that we send out on the web without asking permission. See we don't need an API in this new world.

Phillip: [00:35:14] Right.

Brian R: [00:35:15] If I can view it with my eyes, my intelligence agent can get it. So somebody will say, "Well, Brian, this world is going to require all these new APIs." No, in fact, APIs go away. People are going to optimize their websites for human consumption. And then the AI and the ML, machine learning, will discern what it needs to get, come back, slice and dice it and not give you choices, but give you answers. Because right now, the only reason we're using a keyboard today, the only reason is the computer wasn't smart enough to hear us, but they hear us. Our speech, discern what it is, extract the intent and come back with an answer. It wasn't capable of doing that because Moore's Law wasn't there yet. If the computer was invented today, we never saw a keyboard before, no normal human being would say, "Oh, I know how to solve this problem. We'll put the alphabet on little blocks and we'll pound on them." No, what we'd be doing is saying "We're going to talk to the computer." And so in one hundred years, we're going to look back and say, oh my God, you know, those people used to actually type and move things around and thought that that's the way it was going to be.

Phillip: [00:36:29] Yeah.

Brian R: [00:36:29] What do you do when you do a search? You're doing all the work, cognitive load, mechanical load. You're sifting. All right. You're going to buy new sneakers. Where do you start? Sneakers in Google. Is that really how you start? You have a vague idea that you might be on team Nike or team Adidas or team boutique sneaker company, whatever your deal is, or I'm anti brand, which is a brand in and of itself. Whatever your game is, you're going to overlay that in your search. And you might secretly have loved somebody's shoes, but you're not going to say, hey, buddy, I really love the shoes. You say, hey, what is that shoe? You're going to look it up. Or you might take cues from sports stars, rock stars. It doesn't matter. You're going to try to find something and that's going to be your base of search. And it sounds like a visual search. Perhaps. It becomes a visual search only after you get to the coalescing of what you really wanted. So what might a future search in a voice commerce environment start like? You know the shoes that that guy wore on that TV show that I saw at nine o'clock last night?

Phillip: [00:37:40] Yeah.

Brian R: [00:37:40] It might be like that because you might not remember any of this junk, but your intelligent assistant is going, "Yeah I know the shoe. Those shoes." It may be so abundantly obvious based on maybe you stopped the video stream and it recorded that notation that you stopped it. Then you rewind it. It started again, then you rewind it. It that might be a signal. I'm giving away another signaling that I shouldn't do this, but that's a signaling of interest and intent.

Phillip: [00:38:08] Sure.

Brian R: [00:38:08] So without you even lifting a finger and again, I'm giving you an extreme case, that's not a really good one because I don't want to give away the real good juicy stuff here. Nothing against you guys. But, you know, again, I hope somebody sits me down, says, "Brian, I'd like to pay you some money for this," but ok. Use that example. Now, where is your starting point? Now you need to tag that. Has it been tagged? In the future is going to be some tagging, whether we like it or not. The future of advertising as we know it is dead because if in fact my assertion, my hypothesis and I postulate this quite a bit lately is in ten years 50 percent of your interaction with any computer is going to be the voice, of course, voice assisted AI. But I don't need to say all that. It's a hundred and forty characters most of the time I communicate this. So it's going to be via voice. And now with the acquisition of Viv via Samsung, who makes refrigerators, dryers and washers. I don't know if you folks have dealt with the most recent dryer that comes out, you know, the technology enabled dryer with Wi-Fi.

Phillip: [00:39:23] Yeah, I have one.

Brian R: [00:39:25] Washer?

Phillip: [00:39:25] Yeah. From LG.

Brian R: [00:39:26] They suck.

Phillip: [00:39:26] Yeah. They're terrible.

Brian R: [00:39:28] They're like VCRs from the 1970s. If we're all hanging around the 1970s and 80s we'd be saying, "You know my VCR as one hundred nineteen events."

Phillip: [00:39:36] Yep.

Brian R: [00:39:37] And if I slow the tape down I could get sixty five events in there and, and I'll come to your house on a Tuesday night. Go, "Hey buddy, why is your VCR blinking at twelve?" "I haven't figured out how to set the time." So now guess what? Every one of the features you bought that VCR for... The events are based on timer right? It don't work. And then you're connecting it to a TV or a cable system that doesn't allow the VCR to change the channel. Now, what do you have? You have a VCR that can only record on the channel that it's on and only when you're in front of it because you haven't set the clock. Now, all it is a playback device. So when we look at modern dishwashers and modern appliances, people are like laughing at me. Oh Viv. What are they going to do on that? I'm going to talk to my dishwasher. Yes, you will. Why? Because us guys, the gals, too. I don't care. I suck at laundry, but I got to do it. I got kids, and sometimes things get dirty and I don't want anybody to find out. So let's get it in there. I love researching UI. I love doing research. I've done hundreds of studies and now a program. I love thinking about, but you know, at eleven o'clock the kids are angry. I got to do wash. I'm looking at the thing. Listen, it's my fault. I said, "Honey, let's get this thing. Look at the touch screen on this. Look at all the options." You get home, say screw this, I'm not going to stay here because I want to know what I'm not going to do. And this is my nerdism. It's "Honey, it's got an app." The other thing I'm not going is I'm not going to sit there and play with app. The app even sucks worse than the interface on that screen. So what am I going to do? I'm going to say I got my I got my kids white t shirts in there. It's got ketchup all over it. Take care of it. And I walk away. And again, I'm really simplifying it. It might be, "Mr. Washer Machine, please. I put white shirts in there and they're for youth, size small. And I like to bleach it, so that nobody finds out that the ketchup is all over the place under fifty dollar t shirt, antique t shirt. You know that that's where we're going. And when technologist's look at this, it's hard to comprehend because we grew up in a keyboard world. We believe that that's the only way we can communicate with the computer, and we believe that we need to sift. You want to know how much time you and I waste looking for stuff? And then we get all right, I love serendipity, but some of these listicles "Guess what this actress looks like today."

Phillip: [00:42:20] Right.

Brian R: [00:42:21] And, you know, she's barely dressed. And, you know, everybody clicks on that junk. Right. And next thing, you're in a listicle black hole and twenty minutes you're never going to get back. After clicking on thirty nine pictures, you finally get to the picture. You go, oh, OK. Never going to fall for that again. And tomorrow you fall for the same junk. And unfortunately, that's how currently we have to pay for journalism. And I can talk about that and my payments spiel because advertising consumption of new media, the presidential election we had today is a byproduct of social networks.

Phillip: [00:42:56] Yep.

Brian R: [00:42:56] The tools that we all created created the presidential campaign that we have. Love it or hate it. I have absolutely no... I'm not going to talk about my bias either way. I'm just talking about this is what we created and we all own it. We all own it because we created a persona, you and I, all of us have created this. You know, we created a secondary personality. I don't know what we want to call it, maybe skeptical, maybe snarky, maybe ironic, maybe a jerk. Maybe I'll use a four letter word with F. Maybe we create that persona online and maybe we create an environment where everybody is sort of doing the pile on in the twenty four hour cycle. Somebody might have said something wrong. Somebody may have done something wrong. Maybe some poor kid said the wrong thing to a girl. And you and I, when we were kids, said something wrong. It went out into the universe. We gulped and we said and we're lucky nobody heard that. Yeah, no, that's not happening today. Everything you say is reported and it's used against you forever, for better or for worse. And the element of transparency, for better or for worse, everything improves. Your email, for better or for worse, is out there. Every time you said, you know, something that you probably shouldn't have said, but you said to a friend, confidence in a chat is now out there. So this loops back to my voice first scenario and what I said, we are living through a time of a big decision we're going to make. Currently the Cloud is holding a lot of our personal information. I'm surrounded by all sorts of Cloud based voice devices that are listening to me and waiting for a trigger word and then ostensibly recording everything that came after that trigger word and is extracting that intent.

Phillip: [00:44:43] Yeah.

Brian R: [00:44:44] We've learned that if you have a Gmail account and you're inside of politics, everything you've ever said since 2009 is now going to be out there for people to see. I don't if that's a good or bad thing. Let one hundred years decide whether that's good or bad. I would say on a human level, of course it's bad. Of course, no human being should be having to be exposed. An historical level of power and transparency maybe it isn't. I don't know. I'm not here to judge that. But imagine everything you've ever done being recorded by your intelligence system. So you hear me excited about all of this stuff. Now I'm going to be the downer. This is my only downer in all this. We're going to face that. And Apple's got a trajectory where they want to localize that inside of your device and they don't want to make that make you the product. You know, Tim Cook will say you're not a product. Our product's the product.

Phillip: [00:45:38] Right.

Brian R: [00:45:39] He would advocate that the Google model and maybe even the Microsoft model is that the data that gathers on is the product being sold and maybe it's doing it in a semi anonymous way. It's still exposing you and perhaps exposing bad. So that may not even matter because you and I are not going to tolerate traditional advertising in a voice first world. So if, in fact, I'm correct in my postulation that I'm going to start ordering sneakers, at least starting my search by asking a question, the reality is I'm not going to see all those pay per click ads. I'm not going to tolerate my search results being nothing but pay per click ads. And I'm going to find ways to deadulterize my... Are they going to adulterate it? I'm going to find ways to my machine learning and AI to get around it. Let's call that ad blocking software in the modern era.

Brian L: [00:46:33] It's not even ad blocking, really. It's almost like they'll be sort of our filters. They're going to become the way that we prevent bots.

Brian R: [00:46:43] We're already doing that, right?

Brian L: [00:46:43] Oh yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

Brian R: [00:46:45] I guarantee you guys are immune to the bar just below the Google logo and just above the organic search result. You probably don't even see it anymore. We're blind to it.

Phillip: [00:46:55] Sure.

Brian R: [00:46:55] It's like we all have a blind spot in our eye. You can find it.

Phillip: [00:46:59] Yeah. Yeah. It's a fun one.

Brian R: [00:47:00] You freak out when you finally find it. Yeah. Oh my God, I'm blind there. And the thing is, that's been going on for a while. That's why the conversions for most small merchants I know this they've been dealing with small merchants for thirty years. Conversions have gone to the floor and it's not a Google problem. It's a failed product. A pay per click... Pay per click really winds up favoring the auction mentality of somebody that has too much credit line on their credit card. So you might think it's perfect if you're a nerd and you're coming from statistical science, you might think this is "perfect capitalism." Somebody can bid for the highest position and it's got to have good quality with a Google algorithm. Yeah, whatever. You know, the bottom line is you pay the most, you ultimately can be on top unless your ad really sucks and it delivers you to a website that is not apropos to what the ad is saying. But if it does deliver on the content, then now what do you have? You have somebody who spent a whole lot of money to acquire you. That means they have a big investment to get a sale out of you. And that means that in a lot of categories they're going to go after you forever. They're going to add track you forever. They're going to spam you because you're going to give up your email sooner or later. And you're never going to be... It's going to be like a bed, a bed suit. You know, it's going to be sticking on you in the summer. And we're not tolerating that much anymore. That's a failed model. And it also is not very intelligent because it doesn't understand that you already made the purchase. It doesn't understand that the consummation is like if you're looking for a new air conditioner that broke. When you finally consummate that perfect purchase, you're receptibility to air conditioner ads is 100 percent utterly wasted. And if they come at you, they're just going to even get you mad, because if they start showing you features that you didn't know existed. You're even just going to totally block it and say, I don't need to be reminded. Humans don't want to be reminded that they made bad choices, especially in purchases like that. And I can go down that whole road on why salespeople are never going to go away. And good salespeople are absolutely invaluable tools to human beings. If they're not trying to sell you something you don't want. They really are doing filtering in a way that AI can, but not quite. So anyway, that ad model is obviously broken and there's no way for Google to fully make that demarcation if they only do time constraints and aggressive retargeting is just going to give it back. Now, imagine that coming at you through your voice device. It's like, oh, well, you know, you kind of like this and now we're not going to tolerate that. So the first thing is that goes away. The next question is how are they going to harvest my data and how are our advertisements going to be? What are they going to look like? Well, you know, I can't you would not tolerate if you guys were hanging around having a beer, you wouldn't tolerate it if Phillip all of a sudden said, "Hey, speaking of tires," "What, I didn't say tires." "I just bought a brand new set of Firestone 305s. Firestone 305s are the most powerful." You know, you're not going to tolerate that in a voice stream. Right? And so people say, "Well, you still got to look at something." Yes. Because all the heavy lifting is going to be done by your intelligent assistant and your intelligence agents. It will distill it down to something. Imagine and again, I don't want to be using old 1950s metaphor, but imagine having a real assistant. And you were chomping on your cigar, Mr. Big, up there in the penthouse. "Yeah, get me choices of ten new suitcases or luggage," or whatever. And the poor assistant is like "I don't know what he likes." Well, you better start figuring out. Unfortunately, in that era, if you couldn't figure it out, the boos says, "Well, you don't know my taste. Get out of here." So an assistant... I see this in Southern California, in Hollywood, by the way, all the time, people running around getting coffee. No, that's not the coffee I wanted. I wanted Blue Bottle. Damn it. It's Wednesday.

Phillip: [00:51:00] Yeah, it's Blue Bottle, and Thursday's Stumptown.

Brian R: [00:51:04] Yeah. Yeah, that's right. And of course it's who you hang with. You know what I'm with. You know, when I'm with Joe or something like that, I got to have the coolest looking coffee, you know, and everybody's into this.

Phillip: [00:51:18] Sure.

Brian R: [00:51:18] So you're a good assistant knows, I call these situational conditions. So the AI that I'm working on is always aware of my schedule. So I always like, for example, guys, we unfortunately connect, but it now knows I'm interacting with you. So I already got the dirt on you folks, your LinkedIn or Twitter accounts, all this kind of stuff. Yeah. You know, it kind of gives me a quick update. I got a meeting coming up, and the best way I can equate this is it produces a card. It's not in a Google sense because this is more like HyperCard. The Google produces a monolithic card and you swipe. That's not what I do. I go back to HyperCard. It's the most beautiful way to look at the layering of what is really voice hypertext. The card is giving me what was the first distillation. Let's call it the first paragraph. And if I get lost or confused on what the heck it's telling me, I can go to that card and I can start a deep linking and saw and see how it arrived at that particular distillation because it always keeps the chain. So I can know how that neuron was created, and I can see if it's been adulterated. I can get other intelligent agents to work on these things, to keep an eye out and to always prune things off that don't make sense. So what I'm starting to talk about here is many intelligent agents operating with many different voice systems and operating with your intelligent assistant or assistants. This is where I'm not very clear. We might an intelligent system is the layer right next to you. You may have one. And I tell you this, once you build it, you will be loyal to it and it will be loyal to you. It will live with you the rest of your life because at the end of the day...

Brian L: [00:53:16] You'll invest in it.

Brian R: [00:53:17] Yes, because it will hold the essence of what you are. It will remember stuff that you long wanted to forget. We shouldn't be remembering when the War of 1812 happened. I'm making a joke about that. I mean, we remember things because we didn't have instant recall through our technology. All right. A book can only hold so much. So we started offloading as soon as books came into our culture, we started offloading a whole lot of junk that we didn't need to have in our brain and that freed us up. The book, The Gutenberg Press is one of the things that started the Italian Renaissance and ultimately the Industrial Revolution, because it allowed us to stop having to remember stuff, to educate ourselves and then to start synthesizing and being more creative. The reason why it was so many more creative people, unfortunately not cut loose... Most people are afraid. This is my other problem with social media. You come up with something crazy, the crab pot. I don't know if you guys know the crab pot. Crab pot is you can open up a big pot of crabs and they can climb out. But if you have enough crabs, it takes six. Five is not enough. Once there are six crabs in a pot, ain't nobody leaving that pot is as soon as somebody tries to get over the edge of the pot, all the crabs will unilaterally grab them and pull them back in. And this is I'm telling you, I learned this when I was a kid in New Jersey. It fascinated me. It turned out it's a meme I guess, but I saw it officially on the Jersey Shore and said, "Why don't you have a lid? They're going to get out of there." "No they want. Watch this. I'll even pull one up." And as soon as you pull one up, you know, the one that's coming out. They're like, yeah, freedom. Every claw, the big claw comes out. No buddy you're coming in. And that's where we are in social media today. When somebody comes up with a new idea. I mean, I'm even experiencing when I talk about voice first. "I've been a data scientist for thirty five years, I've walked and I've worked in voice for 12 years, all the stuff you're talking about is even going to happen in our lifetime. Brian, shut up." I'm like, yeah, because it's not going to be unilateral. It's like, all right, when Steve Jobs thought of the Apple 2, he said it's going to be in everybody's home. He didn't even know how or why. And it ultimately did. But it wasn't to balance checkbooks or to hold recipes because people discovered something called Lotus 123.

Phillip: [00:55:49] Right.

Brian R: [00:55:49] And Lotus 123 allowed people to take their work home with them and to do accounting and planning and speculation about the future. And this new thing called the spreadsheet. And it liberated people. And then desktop publishing brought it home so people can communicate knowledge, work. And the same revolutions are going to happen around voice. I can't predict all of them. I know commerce is going to be a massive part of it and payments are going to be a massive part of it. So commerce. I'll give you another example. Food. I can go up to any of my voice first devices and I can say order some pizza. I don't need to say much more, I can just let it go just from that. It's going to see am I home? Yes, I'm home. Anybody on my schedule beyond my family, my kids out doing sports or something. Now everybody's home and I got two guests. Who are they? I got two vegan's. OK, that's going to limit the choices, right? All of a sudden, we're going to now shape what pizza operations are there available. Am I acclimated to go out my car and pick this junk up or do I want it delivered? Well, I probably want it delivered because I'm hanging out. And what are my options to get this delivered? This is a big problem. Now think about what you need to do cognitively and I mean include everything you have to kind of interact. Have to nicely find out, you know, hey, we're going to get the meat special and the vegans look at you. You kill animals to eat? Now, you know, by the way, I'm a vegan, so I can say this crap. Now I am. Last ten minutes.

Phillip: [00:57:32] All right, guys, thank you so much for sticking with us. That was Part 1, and I know that you need to hear Part 2. It's going to blow your mind. We get into some really deep subjects and talks about the potential pitfalls and moral implications of things like AI and payments and sort of is this an evolution of the human race? All these amazing ideas and thoughts that Brian's going to bring out for us in Episode 20, which is Part 2. So we want you to check back in. I don't want you to miss it, though, so you need to subscribe. And so the best way to subscribe, you can get us on iTunes. If you're on iTunes and you subscribe, please leave us a five star review. You can also listen to Future Commerce on Google Play or write from your Amazon Echo with the phrase "Alexa play Future Commerce podcast." Anyway, thank you for listening to Future Commerce and until next time, keep looking toward the future.

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