Artificial Intelligence Demystified


Artificial intelligence is such staple of science fiction that when many of us think about where it might lead, images of malevolent robots and nefarious power plots may come to mind. But McCombs School of Business Associate Professor James Scott has a friendlier view of AI. He’ll share his insights at a Texas McCombs Presents morning coffee gathering Wednesday, Sept. 26 in the Crum Auditorium of Rowling Hall on The University of Texas at Austin campus.

Scott’s new book, “AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together,” demystifies the core concepts behind artificial intelligence by exploring the history of the ideas that led to its development. The result is both positive and entertaining, offering an optimistic look at the benefits of combining human creativity with powerful machines.

Written in collaboration with Nick Polson, a professor at the Chicago Booth School of Business, the book uses history, mathematics and real-world examples to debunk common controversies surrounding AI.

“On the one hand, you have this huge amount of hype coming from the business world,” Scott says. “Companies are making it seem AI is going to fix every problem for humanity. Then on the other hand, you have the Elon Musks of the world, AI doomsayers who say AI is going to kill everything that we care about. As educators, we believe that to participate in these important debates, you really have to understand what AI is, where it came from, and how it works.”

“AIQ” has an approachable take on the ideas behind AI, one anchored in stories rather than equations, going as far back as Isaac Newton’s ill-fated stint as warden at England’s Royal Mint. While explaining the roots of AI, the book draws parallels to its wholesome modern-day uses in areas such as cancer therapy and cucumber farming — no Black Mirror episode to be found here.

Some fears associated with AI pertaining to privacy or data leaks and are not unfounded, Scott says. These worries are not glossed over in the book. Scott writes about the reasons human judgment is a crucial part of any system that uses artificial intelligence.

“It’s really important that we don’t treat these algorithms like a microwave oven, where you just punch in set of numbers and walk away,” Scott says. “You really have to have humans who know what they’re doing … using (AI) to maybe supplement decisions, not make them.”

To read the McCombs feature Q&A with James Scott about “AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together,” click below. :

Artificial intelligence, it seems, is suddenly everywhere — from the recommendation systems for the movies we stream to the electronic assistants that respond to our voice commands to the self-driving cars that are beginning to appear on our roads. AI advances mean computers can increasingly accomplish tasks in a human-like way.

But the ideas behind artificial intelligence have been around for centuries, moving through the minds of innovators like Isaac Newton and Florence Nightingale. That’s according to James Scott, associate professor of Information, Risk, and Operations Management at McCombs, and the co-author of AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together.

Scott says such fears are unwarranted, and that he doesn’t know a single reputable AI scientist who thinks that kind of thing is a realistic possibility on any timeline for the foreseeable future.

Scott recently discussed these and many other issues surrounding today’s AI explosion, including both the unfounded — and very real — concerns around the adoption of AI.

Why is AI taking off now?

The answer is technology, the speed of computers. It’s impossible to convey intuitively how fast computers have gotten at computing numbers.

We like to use a car analogy. If we go back to 1951, the fastest computer around was called the UNIVAC. It was the size of a room, based on vacuum tubes, and could do 2,000 calculations per second, which is radically faster than any human being. The fastest car was the Alfa Romeo 6C, which can travel about 110 miles per hour. Today, both cars and computers have gotten faster. Formula One cars travel over 200 miles an hour and computers are radically faster than the UNIVAC. But if cars were as much faster as computers, the modern Alfa Romeo would travel at 8 million times the speed of light.

Aside from computing speed, what else explains AI’s sudden rise?

The scale of data sets. If you digitized the Library of Congress, you’d get about 10 terabytes worth of data. That is 120,000 times less data than was collected by the big four tech firms — Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook — in 2013 alone. That’s a lifetime ago in internet use, and the pace of data accumulation is just accelerating at incredible speed.

AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together:

Amazon page –

New Google Tool to Help U.S. Veterans Find Jobs.

Google Launches New Tools To Help U.S. Veterans Find Jobs And Promote Businesses

Google Data Scientist and former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Sean O’Keefe pointed out that there are more than 2.5 million businesses in the U.S. that are majority-owned by veterans. This amounts to 9% of all businesses in the U.S. To help veterans find jobs and promote their businesses, Google has launched some useful new tools.

Veteran-Led Attribute

Google has enabled a new “Veteran-Led” attribute for businesses that are owned, led or founded by a veteran. This attribute can be added through the Google My Business profiles. And it will appear along with others such as “Outdoor Seating” and “Has Wifi.”

Veteran-Led attribute on GoogleGOOGLE

Kevin Ryan is a former Army commander who was stationed in Iraq and was responsible for the lives of over 300 people. After returning home, he decided to test his skills in the civilian world by working with his father in healthcare. When his father passed away, Ryan knew he had to find his own passion and his partner Meredith Sutton persuaded him to make his own beer with the help of YouTube tutorials.

After that, they founded Service Brewing Company with the intention that the business would give back to the veterans. And in the first three years of business, Service Brewing Company raised over $70,000 for organizations that assist first responders and veterans. And half of their staff are veterans. 

In the screenshot above, you will notice the veteran-led attribute that was added to Service Brewing’s business profile page. And below is a video interview that Google put together featuring Service Brewing Company:

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Back in March, Google also released a similar women-led attribute for business listings to commemorate International Women’s Day. And Google also added “LGBTQ-friendly” and “Transgender Safe Space” attributes in June.

Jobs For Veterans Search

Google Cloud program manager Matthew Hudson served as a civil engineer in the U.S. Air Force for seven years and his job was to ensure that the bases in Iraq and Afghanistan were logistically prepared for his servicemen and women to do their duties. After returning to civilian life in 2014, he did not know what to do next and navigating through job applications was a new experience.

To help fix this problem, Google built a tool to help veterans find jobs with a simple search query. When veterans search for “jobs for veterans” along with military job codes such as MOS, AFSC and NEC, the Google search results will display relevant job openings. Employers can also build this feature into their own job boards through Google’s Cloud Talent Solution API. Some of the websites that have this feature implemented include career sites using Talent Solutions like CareerBuilder, Encompass Health Careers, FedEx Careers, Getting Hired and Siemens Careers.

    MOS Calculator  =

“Through Grow with Google, our initiative to help create opportunities for all Americans, we hope to use our technology to help veterans understand the full range of opportunities open to them across many different fields. Right now those opportunities are getting lost in translation,” wrote Hudson in a blog post. “There isn’t a common language that helps recruiters match a veteran’s experience with the need for their skills and leadership in civilian jobs. As a result, 1 in 3 veterans—of the roughly 250,000 service members who transition out of the military each year—end up taking jobs well below their skill level.” 

(Google’s philanthropic arm is also giving a $2.5 million grant to the USO (United Service Organizations) in order to provide training and career guidance in IT support. This grant will enable the USO to incorporate the Google IT Support Professional Certificate into its curriculum.)

From Forbes Aug. 24, 2018, By Amit Chowdhry, Consumer Tech Contributor

The Value of an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Entrepreneurship Means More Than Just Start-ups

Last year, Sarah Nelson ’18 interned at the retail consulting firm JL Buchanan. As part of its consumer insights team, the entrepreneurship major worked on researching and developing a strategy for an essential oil category at a major department store retailer. The information Nelson and her colleagues produced was instrumental when JL Buchanan pitched ideas to the department store.

Nelson’s role at JL Buchanan focused on consumer research, aligning much of what she did at the company with what she had learned in a class she had taken on entrepreneurial research and design thinking methodology.

This summer, Nelson worked for Fusion Hill, a research, strategy and creative agency. She was part of a strategy team tasked with conducting research, competitive analyses and value propositions for clients. Once again, Nelson used those entrepreneurial skills to think critically while keeping in mind the client’s position and the needs of the consumer. Nelson credits the skills she developed as a student at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship with helping her succeed as an intern and preparing her for “life in the real world.”

“As entrepreneurship majors we were able to grow and develop as individuals by running companies from head to toe, understanding investor financials and learning about the consumer’s view through design thinking,”  Nelson said. “Most notably, I became better equipped to test the viability of a concept or strategy. I learned how to mitigate risk and make wise choices. These skills will definitely help me as I grow and develop as a strategist.”

The value of an entrepreneurial mindset

The entrepreneurial mindset Nelson sharpened at St. Thomas is applicable to any career, said Laura Dunham, PhD, associate dean of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. While most people think entrepreneurship is synonymous with business, it is far from the only career choice for majors in the field. In fact, many graduates take an “intrapreneurial” route allowing them the opportunity to bring their own, unique entrepreneurial skills into an established company looking for innovative employees to boost growth. Companies rely on those tools and skills entrepreneurship students and graduates have to spot new opportunities in the marketplace, evaluate them and decide how to pursue them effectively.

“My students who don’t want to start a business will ask, ‘What will I do?’” Dunham said. “I just have to go onto and type in ‘entrepreneur’ and 600 opportunities show up in the Twin Cities from entry level positions to chief operating officers. You’re seeing the entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial skills more and more as a requirement for jobs across functions in a company. They want people who can deal with unstructured problems, who know how to – despite uncertainty – search opportunities and figure out how to pursue them. Those are entrepreneurial competencies.” 

Critical parts of that mindset include curiosity and empathy, along with unique business competencies and creative problem solving skills.

“It’s about sparking your creative confidence – your ability to know you can do stuff,” Dunham said. “It’s about sparking what we we call opportunity orientation. When other people say, ‘This is a drag,’ entrepreneurs say, ‘This is a drag, but what would make it better? Is there a business here? Let me think.’”

Intrapreneurs using entrepreneurial skills

A consultant for Optum, Dylan Condé-Brooks ’17 uses his expert problem-solving skills to tackle issues in the health care industry.

“One of the biggest skills entrepreneurs have is looking at, ‘Why has there always been a problem like this and how can we solve it?’” said the entrepreneurship and marketing major.

Instead of just putting a Band-Aid on the complex problems he’s asked to scrutinize, it’s up to Condé-Brooks to find creative solutions.

“I’d go to job interviews and they would ask why I majored in entrepreneurship if I didn’t want to start my own business,” Condé-Brooks said. “They didn’t understand why anyone would major in that and want to go work for a company. I told them it was more about problem-solving. You have one class as an entrepreneurship major at St. Thomas where you have to read balance sheets and know what a convertible note is – all of the minutiae, finite details of finance for business. All the other classes I had were about problem-solving, being creative and doing more with less. You can apply that skill set to running your own business or for going into a business and helping it solve its problems.”

Alex French ’11 might be well-known for starting Bizzy Coffee, which is ranked No. 1 on Amazon in the cold brew coffee category and is sold at hundreds of stores across the United States. But prior to launching Bizzy with Andrew Healy, French was an innovator at General Mills.

After graduation, he took a job at a big electronics retailer, where he worked in planning. He couldn’t leverage his entrepreneurial skills at that particular company, so he created a snowboarding accessory and began to market the item. This helped him land a job at General Mills, where he flexed his creative muscle as he solved consumer problems.

“As soon as I was at General Mills, everything opened up and I was able to leverage that skill set of mine,” said the entrepreneurship and finance major. “I ended up getting promoted into a role as an intrapreneur where I was working in their start-up division. I was literally running a tech start-up.”

French ended up working on a nontraditional product line for the company, where he exceled thanks to his talent and passion for entrepreneurship and his own personal business experience.

“I became one of the go-to innovators within the company,” he said. “People would bring me into meetings for innovation and they would use me as a sounding board for ideas and consumer insights and learning. It allowed me to be the intrapreneur; I was able to present ideas to leadership and actually get investment behind my ideas. I was able to execute them based on my plan. That’s the perfect world intrapreneurship – it was my definition of starting businesses within a corporation, which was really exciting and fun. You’re basically an entrepreneur with less risk.”

Ultimately, French left General Mills to focus on developing Bizzy. Because of his stellar reputation at the company, French said many of his former colleagues were willing to help him out when he launched his own start-up.

Feeling empowered

Drawn to St. Thomas because of her interest in in the entrepreneurship program, Jenna Breen ’12 knew from a young age she wanted to pursue a career in business after watching her father in his role as vice president of operations at a Fargo company.

While she saw some of her classmates start businesses, Breen discovered she had a passion for implementation rather than generating ideas. She was able to apply what she learned in the entrepreneurship program to further her career both at the health care communications company Spok and currently as a CRM product manager at HelpSystems.

“I realized getting into the business as a product strategy/product manager role, you are basically like an internal entrepreneur – you’re the owner of your own product,” Breen said. “It’s very entrepreneurial in that regard.”

While starting a business wasn’t for her, Breen said learning a vast variety of skills as an entrepreneurship major was instrumental in her success as a CRM product manager, where she’s given the space to be innovative.

“I established the program I’m running here,” she said about her work at HelpSystems. “I feel my role has a big impact on the organization, which is always a good thing. Some people would be intimidated by that, but I feel empowered by it. I feel I’m able to do what I want with it.”

Amy Carlson Gustafson, Schulz School of Entrepreneurship, Univ of St. Thomas (MN) 

A Good Way to Procure an Entrepreneurship Textbook

Today in a veterans entrepreneurship class I had an active duty SFC Army recruiter ask to look at my Heidi Neck book opposite.  It is the latest and newest academic entrepreneurship textbook, and well written.  Her book is being adopted by many curriculums across the country because of its “meat” and “modern” content. I had it in class because in its marketing section she believes entrepreneurs in today’s world are better served and can even the playing field by using (her new term) “entrepreneurial marketing”  She defines it as, “the creative use of affordable, innovative, and easy-to-use marketing tools such as viral videos, social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and mass emailing to grab the attention of the customer.  Citing Zappos as one of the first companies to use social media as its main marketing strategy, they were able to attract a large customer base very quickly by emphasizing free, easy, returns on shoe purchases and excellent customer service.   Her point was that entrepreneurs can even the playing field by using just the internet.  While industry giants may have bigger budgets and more resources, that cannot not stop new entrepreneurs from waging their own successful social media campaigns.  Their use of social media is just as valuable as that of Proctor & Gamble.

Her term of ‘entrepreneurial marketing’ and ‘evening the playing field’ struck me between the eyes.  Yes, we all have used social media for part of marketing a new business, but never exclusively and never to be as good as the big boys.  I agree with Professor Neck.  To get a new idea with no brand recognition, established marketing channels, and probably a better product, it takes creativity and innovation.   What better medium to use for these actions than the lower cost internet?

So, Sergeant Norman, my student immediately balked at the cost of her text at $120 (it is a new book and these collegiate texts are often required reading for students).  I quickly suggested he pick a recent text in a superseded edition. (There are none for the Neck book because it’s a first edition).  The price drops dramatically after it has been replaced with a new edition.  Generally speaking, if you are new student or person to entrepreneurship, one as old as ten years will contain the meaningful information and explain the basics.  Heidi Neck’s book is new, but other professors of renown (Bruce Barringer and Steve Mariotti come to mind) have meaningful books being sold for much less money.  Not only that idea, but I have a good friend out in CA at Cal State Domingues Hills who teaches minority students with little spare cash.  He uses the Entrepreneur Magazine book,  ‘How to Start a Business’, selling for $15 and containing some 200 plus pages of a good material on the subject of starting your own business.

Being an advocate of lean entrepreneurship (the newer, better way  to design a business plan), I must add a caveat.  If an older text uses a traditional business plan as its planning method, please disregard that one section.  It is now obsolete because Silicon Valley has given the world lean entrepreneurship, meaning use of a one-page business model canvas (BMC) to work with the end-user, the market that will pay money for your product. Called validated development, when the person with the problem or need, works an entrepreneur through their situation and personal desire, the idea or concept is either a “go” or a “no-go” before launch.  The end market either validates and express a serious interest in the product or they do not.   Hope this concept helps wannabe entrepreneurs out there who want some meaty, inclusive entrepreneurship content like Sergeant Norman.  Editor.








Time to Add Entrepreneurship to the College Curriculum

Colleges across the country have welcomed millions back to campus over the past few weeks in the midst of headlines heralding economic growth. Faculty, administrators, and student leaders should seize this opportunity to prioritize entrepreneurship and add it to the core curriculum. Entrepreneurship is the only skill that can give students true financial and occupational freedom in today’s fast-changing economy.

Sadly, American universities have long prioritized theory and knowledge at the expense of implementation and practice.

Few of today’s curricula — even in the “hard” disciplines such as science and technology — translate directly to the job market. According to a recent PayScale survey of more than 64,000 managers, 60 percent responded that recent grads lack critical thinking skills, nearly half responded that they didn’t have the necessary writing or leadership skills, and over a third said that they didn’t have adequate data analysis skills. In other words, around half of college grads don’t have the baseline attributes it takes to succeed in today’s economy — let alone flourish as entrepreneurs.

As a result, there are significant cracks in today’s generally strong economy. For instance, there are still vast geographic inequities in economic growth, a lack of economic vibrancy, and widespread underemployment.

A recent Wall Street Journal article dubbed small communities “the new inner city”because of their stubbornly poor socioeconomic indicators that are often apparent even from a casual drive through town.

The startup rate, a widely used proxy for economic vibrancy, is one of the few economic indicators to show little-to-no improvement since the Great Recession.

And underemployment remains pervasive, as college graduates are sucked into lower-paying, less-secure — yet plentiful — gig-economy jobs with the likes of Postmates, Lyft, or Amazon Flex. According to a study by the New York Federal Reserve, nearly one in two college grads is employed at a job that does not require a degree. While jobs in this growing sector can play a stabilizing role after college or between jobs, they are unlikely to provide viable livelihoods or careers.

Greater entrepreneurship is the antidote to these remaining economic headwinds and can help ordinary young Americans achieve their fullest potential.

Colleges are uniquely situated to foster entrepreneurship. They should leverage their infrastructure and resources to engage their students with local employers, entrepreneurs, and lenders in their regions. At the very least, they should teach students the hard and soft skills that today’s hiring managers demand.

Some colleges are already doing this. Mount Saint Mary’s, in rural Emmitsburg, MD, is creating a brick-and-mortar network of student-led businesses to bring economic activity to the town and give students hands-on learning opportunities in entrepreneurship.

Georgia Tech is following a bold vision to support creation of 300 new student startups per year. This will not only give students a toolkit for future jobs, but also the power to create them.

Elite universities such as Stanford, Columbia, University of Southern California, and Rice have close ties with nearby computing, finance, entertainment, and oil and gas hubs, respectively, allowing them to stay apprised of the changing skill setsneeded by local employers.

Yet the vast bulk of universities sit on intellectual property worth billions, with no plans to offer an entrepreneurial bridge to bring these technologies to market. An organization called H4Di, supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, has stepped into the gap, offering universities a course focused on solving defense problems and a means to leverage their intellectual capital while teaching students to create businesses. Initiatives such as these should be welcomed and supported by universities.

Part of increasing entrepreneurship means increasing opportunities for people of color, who remain underrepresented in entrepreneurial fields. According to the Kauffman Foundation, lack of capital is one reason for this disparity, with research suggesting roughly 15 percent of the black and white startup gap can be attributed to differences in assets.

While rates of college completion for blacks have increased over the past few decades, the Saint Louis Federal Reserve found that the wealth of black college-educated households is in decline, whereas college-educated white households build wealth. Instead of simply assuming college completion is an automatic wealth-builder for minorities, we must revaluate how colleges can put minority students in a position to find financial and entrepreneurial success.

If colleges don’t act, high schools and trade schools have the potential to pick up the slack. High schools and community institutions can already provide students with enough of a foundation to enter many high-growth, high-skilled careers.  But universities still have superior resources and relationships to draw on. The time for them to promote entrepreneurship is now.

By Justin Dent, Ex. Director and Co-founder of GenFKD , from Real Clear Policy website

The ELI, Entrepreneurship Learning Institute, originators of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, has successfully run student success programs at  community colleges with surprising results.  It outcomes of drive student engagement, strengthen student learning, develop entrepreneurial attitudes, behaviors, and skills, improve student persistence, increase college completion rates, and produce employable graduates have been remarkable.  One college, Pike Peaks in Colorado experienced these results:

These result by themselves should make colleges and universities aware of how important the empowerment, creativity, innovation, and team invention from entrepreneurship training are to an institution across campus, all curriculums.

Last section by Editor

Think Like an Entrepreneur

Can entrepreneurship be taught?

Can your students learn to be entrepreneurs, or must they be born with an entrepreneurial spirit? While some people are naturally more oriented toward an entrepreneurial lifestyle, and feel more comfortable with the uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship, it’s definitely possible to work on developing some of the key attitudes and attributes of those who start and grow successful businesses.

Many business books and experts assert that there’s just one kind of person who can be a successful entrepreneur—someone who’s a risk taker, extroverted, a natural salesperson, a leader and a visionary, someone willing to work around the clock.

It’s a great list, but it’s just not true. A whole range of personality types have become successful entrepreneurs. The key is for your students to find the right type of business to suit them.

Of course, someone who, by nature, needs an extremely high level of security, guidance, and reassurance might be a poor fit for an entrepreneurial lifestyle. But the idea that an entrepreneur must relish risk—be an emotional skydiver—is often overstated when describing the types of people who make good entrepreneurs.

Many people who don’t think of themselves as embracing risk become entrepreneurs. The key is that although a successful entrepreneur takes risks, those risks are measured. While entrepreneurs frequently go out on limbs, the ones that make it generally test that limb first to make sure it has a good chance of bearing their weight.

__ You see opportunities where others see problems. When you encounter a need that isn’t filled or a flaw in a product, service, or even our society, you look to see if there’s a way to solve it.

__ You are driven to succeed. You’re so motivated to achieve your goals that you’re prepared to overcome obstacles that would likely discourage or stop others.

__ You are a self-starter. Rather than waiting for someone to issue instructions, you can take initiative.

__ When you’re interested in something, you don’t need others to tell you what to do.

__ You are persistent. You don’t give up on things easily. You can handle setbacks and keep on going.

__ You are innovative. You can think “outside the box” when attempting to meet challenges.

__ You are energized by challenges. The idea of having to solve a problem, create something new, or build something from nothing, spurs you rather than deters you.

__ You take control of your own destiny and bear responsibility for your own actions. You don’t blame others for what happens to you in life. You can honestly accept responsibility for the results—both positive and negative—of decisions you make and actions you take.

__ You are willing to give up the security blanket of a “regular” job. You don’t mind working without the safety net of a regular paycheck or the benefits and social structure that an established employer provides.

__ You accept and embrace change. Change is inevitable, yet in the entrepreneurial world, change comes even faster and more frequently. But rather than fearing it, you welcome it and enjoy the excitement of the ride.

__ You can be a team player. No great entrepreneurs succeed on their own. You’re able to work with others to achieve a common goal. You’re capable of listening to others’ ideas and incorporating the good ones into your own thinking.

__ You understand the importance of making a profit. You know that all your best intentions and actions are for naught if you aren’t actually making a profit—that is, bringing in more money by selling a product or service than it costs you to provide it. You’re not embarrassed by the idea of making money.

Excerpted from Entrepreneurship: A Real-World Approach









AI in the 21st Century per Noah Harari

International writer Yual Noah Harari, best selling author of Saipens and Homo Deus and Barack Obama favorite, says, “there are three big challenges facing humankind in the 21st century. They are: nuclear war, climate change and technological disruption, especially the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and bioengineering. These will change the world more than anything else.”  In his latest book, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, Harari argues technology is humanity’s biggest challenge. The technology that favored democracy is changing, and as artificial intelligence develops, it might change further.

Let’s start with jobs and incomes, because whatever liberal democracy’s philosophical appeal, it has gained strength in no small part thanks to a practical advantage: The decentralized approach to decision making that is characteristic of liberalism—in both politics and economics—has allowed liberal democracies to outcompete other states, and to deliver rising affluence to their people.

Most of the new jobs will presumably demand high levels of expertise and ingenuity, and therefore may not provide an answer to the problem of unemployed unskilled laborers, or workers employable only at extremely low wages. Moreover, as AI continues to improve, even jobs that demand high intelligence and creativity might gradually disappear. The world of chess serves as an example of where things might be heading. For several years after IBM’s computer Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in 1997, human chess players still flourished; AI was used to train human prodigies, and teams composed of humans plus computers proved superior to computers playing alone.

Yet in recent years, computers have become so good at playing chess that their human collaborators have lost their value and might soon become entirely irrelevant. On December 6, 2017, another crucial milestone was reached when Google’s AlphaZero program defeated the Stockfish 8 program. Stockfish 8 had won a world computer chess championship in 2016. It had access to centuries of accumulated human experience in chess, as well as decades of computer experience. By contrast, AlphaZero had not been taught any chess strategies by its human creators—not even standard openings. Rather, it used the latest machine-learning principles to teach itself chess by playing against itself. Nevertheless, out of 100 games that the novice AlphaZero played against Stockfish 8, AlphaZero won 28 and tied 72—it didn’t lose once. Since AlphaZero had learned nothing from any human, many of its winning moves and strategies seemed unconventional to the human eye. They could be described as creative, if not downright genius. Can you guess how long AlphaZero spent learning chess from scratch, preparing for the match against Stockfish 8, and developing its genius instincts? Four hours.

What’s more, AI enjoys uniquely nonhuman abilities, which makes the difference between AI and a human worker one of kind rather than merely of degree. Two particularly important nonhuman abilities that AI possesses are connectivity and updatability.

For example, many drivers are unfamiliar with all the changing traffic regulations on the roads they drive, and they often violate them. In addition, since every driver is a singular entity, when two vehicles approach the same intersection, the drivers sometimes miscommunicate their intentions and collide. Self-driving cars, by contrast, will know all the traffic regulations and never disobey them on purpose, and they could all be connected to one another. When two such vehicles approach the same junction, they won’t really be two separate entities, but part of a single algorithm. The chances that they might miscommunicate and collide will therefore be far smaller.

Similarly, if the World Health Organization identifies a new disease, or if a laboratory produces a new medicine, it can’t immediately update all the human doctors in the world. Yet even if you had billions of AI doctors in the world—each monitoring the health of a single human being—you could still update all of them within a split second, and they could all communicate to one another their assessments of the new disease or medicine. These potential advantages of connectivity and updatability are so huge that at least in some lines of work, it might make sense to replace all humans with computers, even if individually some humans still do a better job than the machines.

All of this leads to one very important conclusion: The automation revolution will not consist of a single watershed event, after which the job market will settle into some new equilibrium. Rather, it will be a cascade of ever bigger disruptions. Old jobs will disappear and new jobs will emerge, but the new jobs will also rapidly change and vanish. People will need to retrain and reinvent themselves not just once, but many times.  Only one skill will endure through a career, that of entrepreneurship.

EDITOR: Just as in the 20th century governments established massive education systems for young people, in the 21st century they will need to establish massive reeducation systems for adults.  Skills will come and go, but one that can be trained and learned is entrepreneurship.  Entrepreneurship can save the world IF larger-scale education begins NOW everywhere -K12, career resources, economic development bodies, colleges/trade schools, and new re-training centers.  Only entrepreneurship gives hope, rekindles passion, develops initiative, builds leadership, and provides opportunities for displaced workers (to create their own jobs).  Thanks to Silicon Valley startups in the first decades of the 21st century, we have a startup method that reduces risk and doubles  success.  It is evidenced-based or lean startup entrepreneurship.  Before scaling or spending capital, an idea or concept is validated by the customer and agile engineering procedures. Educators must wake-up, see the AI-GIG train coming, and institute new entrepreneurial training as quickly as possible.  Time is running out!  See


Education Demands of a Rapidly Changing Economy.






Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, California Community Colleges


The head of California Community Colleges discusses partnering with businesses to train and reskill the workforce and his role in reimagining the current education model through online learning.

The global economy is in the midst of rapid transformation. Across industries, digital technologies are destroying established business models and creating new ones, which has led to a shortfall of qualified workers to fill open positions.1 Requirements are changing so rapidly that many workers who have been with companies for years wouldn’t be considered today for those same jobs without additional credentials. It’s little wonder that upskilling and reskilling have become a top priority for companies and government administrators alike.

US community colleges—and comparable postsecondary schools in other countries—have a critical role to play. Long important players in vocational education and workforce development, their traditional focus on technical skills and industry-specific certifications have made them indispensable to sectors from manufacturing to healthcare. And with an expansive network of institutions across the country, community colleges are well placed to serve both traditional students and adult workers seeking to expand their skills and expertise.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the sprawling California Community Colleges system, understands intimately how integral these institutions are to the continued vitality of a changing economy. His vantage point isn’t just professional but personal: Oakley’s experience as a community college graduate has indelibly shaped his views on the system’s role in creating a qualified workforce. We recently sat down with Chancellor Oakley at his office in Sacramento, California, to discuss the future of public colleges, the importance of public–private partnerships, and the potential of technology and online learning.

McKinsey: How would you characterize the ability of public education in the US to meet the needs of today’s economy?

Eloy Ortiz Oakley: Our educational model often no longer works. The current pipeline consists of K–12 education, a four-year institution or a community college education followed by a transfer to a four-year university, and then sometimes graduate school. It is a very siloed process with rigidly segregated levels of higher education.

Instead, we may need to think about a K–14 model. We’ve seen some success with this approach across the country. P-tech is a great example: it is a six-year high-school program, developed through a public–private partnership, that allows students to graduate with both their high school and associates degrees. This model truly prepares students for the future of work.

McKinsey: What is the role of community colleges in preparing people for the workforce?

Eloy Ortiz Oakley: Whether students are coming to us right out of high school, after serving in the military, or from the workforce to reskill after a layoff, community colleges are a great fit. So many people who were able to get good jobs coming out of high school now need additional skills, often because employers are demanding postsecondary credentials.

Community colleges have both experienced faculty and support systems in place. And we open our doors to all students, regardless of where they have been, how they did in high school, or how they have done in life.

McKinsey: What are some of the ways your community college system is using technology to help students navigate through higher education?

Share: A door to greater opportunity

Eloy Ortiz Oakley: One of the challenges in community colleges is that we have historically placed students in what we call remedial or developmental education classes based on their standardized test scores. That’s a disservice to these individuals because it doesn’t really represent how well they can do in college.

We are doing a tremendous amount of work to better understand students’ skills and talents, and to place them in college in a way that allows them to progress as quickly as possible. We’re getting much better information and using predictive analytics to better understand students’ educational attainment when they come to us and determine which courses they should be taking. For example, to place students today, we’re taking high school transcript data and creating algorithms that we call Multiple Measures Assessment and Placement (MMAP) models. These MMAPs will improve as we gain access to more and more data about a student’s life experiences—education, work, internships, clubs, activities and so on. As we get better at collecting that data, the MMAPs will give us much better information on how to personalize education for each individual. We want to be able to tailor an educational experience personally for you the day you walk in the door and having access to data is going to give us that opportunity. Students will be much better placed than just walking into a class of 50 as one of many, where our faculty and staff see only the average of what’s going on in that classroom.

So many people who were able to get good jobs coming out of high school now need additional skills, often because employers are demanding postsecondary credentials.

McKinsey: Community colleges have increasingly been working with the private sector on training programs and curriculums. What are the elements of effective public–private partnerships?

Eloy Ortiz Oakley: The employer–community college partnership is critical to ensure that the private sector has the workforce it needs to grow. We see the economy changing right before our eyes, so without this strong partnership we’re going to fail to educate a sufficient pool of workers.

We need employers that are invested in the future of public higher education to be at the table, helping us to design curriculum and advising us on how to upskill and reskill the workforce. For example, Genentech in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, has partnered with colleges such as Solano Community College to create and prepare an entry-level workforce. Solano Community College in partnership with Genentech has also developed a bachelor’s degree that feeds into its particular industry, enabling more folks in the workforce to move into management positions.

Most companies understand the value of partnering with broad-access public education institutions. Whether they are an automotive manufacturer or a tech company, they are already spending to train new employees, reskill them as workers progress through the ranks, and retain talent in a tight labor market. Community colleges are the ideal partner: we’re already here, we’re affordable to many students, and we’re located throughout the country. Moreover, we’re designed to adapt to the changes in the workforce much more quickly than public or private university systems can.

McKinsey: So how do you pitch a community college student alongside a student from a top-name university?

Eloy Ortiz Oakley: Part of the challenge we have today is the way that we communicate value is the diploma that you offer on your résumé. Not that one degree is better than the other, but if you have a degree from an Ivy League school, that communicates a certain value, while a degree from a public university conveys a different value. In the future, I think we’re going to rely less on where a degree came from and more on the entire picture of degrees, experience, and demonstrable skills. That’ll force us to reassess the value we create through our credentials.

The goal, really, is about building a portfolio so that people can accumulate and demonstrate knowledge to an employer. The challenge for us is, how do we take a student’s information over a lifetime and package it in a portfolio of skills for an employer, including education, military service, and skills gained as an adult learner? Think about how employers are screening applicants. They’re using various algorithms and predictive analytics to screen applicants out on a number of criteria. Applicants rarely get a chance to sit in front of people anymore for a first interview.

McKinsey: Are you talking about a digital portfolio of some sort?

Eloy Ortiz Oakley: Yes, I think having a digital portfolio is the wave of the future. Right now, every time you apply for a job or go to school for an advanced degree, you have to request your transcript from the university you last attended. That is such an outdated way of helping us understand what your skills and talents are.

In contrast, LinkedIn, Indeed, or any of the other job services are essentially digital packages. They capture work experience and duration, education, membership in different organizations, and hobbies and interests. We have also seen advances in student portfolios.

It’s really about how we package all of these skills in a way that’s transferrable and follows individuals throughout their career. It’s unclear what that will look like, but I think being able to demonstrate the accumulation of all your talents and experiences is a much better way of understanding how you’re going to fit into my company or my venture than just a college diploma.


Two Great Social Startups Doing Good

This Bar Saves Lives founders are Hollywood actors two of whom were inspired by a trip to Liberia to help build a bridge.  Ryan Devlin went to Liberia with Todd Grinnell where they met kids who were suffering from severe malnutrition. It was heartbreaking… but also inspiring because they saw the incredibly simple, life-saving nutrition that was returning them to health. They decided right there to get more nutrition to kids in need, so back home they met up with friends Ravi Patel and Kristen Bell to figure out how. They made a LOT of snack bars in our kitchens and then partnered up with the best non-profit orgs around. Before long, This Bar Saves Lives was born.


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Poe: Why Entrepreneurship Is Like Getting Into the NFL


It’s the first thing any aspiring startup founder is told: the odds of a new business succeeding are low. The failure rate of any U.S. company after five years is over 50 percent and over 70 percent after 10 years. A venture-backed tech startup sees even more disappointing statistics, with failure rates ranging from 75 to 90 percent within the first two years, depending on the study you cite.

Dontari Poe is fully aware of those statistics — but he’s used to beating the odds himself. That’s part of the reason that the 27-year-old NFL defensive tackle, currently with the Carolina Panthers and formerly the Atlanta Falcons, joined the increasing ranks of entertainment figures participating as an angel investor in technology startups.

“For one thing, the odds of hitting a unicorn are about the same as making it to the NFL out of college. Like 1 percent. That means it’s a numbers game,” Poe says. “You have to be prepared to lose some, just like games.”

His activity started when he noticed other athletes getting in on the tech space.

“I see all the NBA guys doing it…” Poe says. “Tech is everywhere. It is in all our lives. You got to get in the game with it to understand it.”

His investments have primarily been in companies that tackle problems in the social sector: for example, Silicon Valley-based Lab Sensor Solutionsdevelops ‘mobile sensor as a service’ devices to track lab samples, while New York-based DailyPay is a fintech company that helps workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck by allowing them to receive earnings before their regularly scheduled payday.

“For me, you have to make a profit and do good by people,” says Poe, who comes from a modest background in his hometown of Memphis, TN, where he was raised by a single mother. He like to work closely with the companies he invests in, as he sees the entire startup process as a team effort, “like football.”

“I look for the passion, experience, hustle and humbleness,” Poe says on what he looks for in a startup team. “Startups are hard. You need a lot to go right. That means you need help. If you can’t ask for help, you’re going to fail.”

Poe’s background has inspired efforts beyond financial investing, as well: in 2016 he launched a program for his non-profit, Poe Man’s Dream, focused on connecting underserved youth to the startup world.

During ‘Poe Man’s Challenge’, startup founders preparing for a pitch event (for which Poe was one of the judges, along with other athlete investors) were required to mentor those youth prior to the pitch. The students were then given the opportunity to pitch the entrepreneurs, with the winner receiving a scholarship.

The winner of the Challenge, water quality startup Sutro, also received an additional investment from Poe. The San Fransisco company makes sensors that monitor the chemical levels in swimming pools to ensure safe levels.

Though his investments thus far have been far from home, Poe is also focused on improving the statistics of his hometown. While Memphis does have a burgeoning entrepreneurial scene, figures that came out earlier this year showed that the metro area is the poorest large metro in the country — and may be getting poorer.

To work on improving that, this summer Poe Man’s Dream hosted a three-day camp for Memphis’s middle and high school students to learn from local entrepreneurs. The students engaged in activities like creating pitch decks and presentations based on real tech startups. The winning student team took home a $500 prize.

“The camp exposes them to a different way of thinking. Like, I could do that,” says Poe. Part of the problem, he says, is that Memphis’s youth don’t often see successful entrepreneurs that “look like them.”