Arturo Garcia of DNAMIC On The Future Of Artificial Intelligence
There is a general idea as to the capabilities of AI now. But I am fascinated by the potential of the creative uses we will give to this technology as it evolves in the future and we consciously make it a part of our day-to-day lives.
As part of our series about the future of Artificial Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewing Arturo Garcia, CEO and Founder of DNAMIC.
Arturo Garcia is the CEO and Co-Founder of DNAMIC, full-service nearshore outsourcing firm specializing in mobile, web development and digital transformation for clients in the US and Europe. He is passionate about creating exciting opportunities for people in the technology industry worldwide. Garcia founded DNAMIC in 2014 to implement his vision of offering a unique collaboration experience for both clients and co-contributors, bringing together the best nearshore software development teams to serve the US market.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share with us the ‘backstory” of how you decided to pursue this career path in AI?
Well, that is the 1-million-dollar question! The technology world has always been a very attractive field to me. As I started my career in the Quality Assurance field testing mobile and web applications one of the immediate challenges, I came across was automation. You see, automation is in essence the idea of removing yourself from repetitive tasks, and delegating that to a machine, so you can focus your time and skills on the most impactful parts of your job.
As I got more and more familiar with the concept of automation, two extremes became relevant to me in my learning path:
- The right foundation, which is building systems that help me structure my work in order to be properly automated.
- And then second; the ability to understand and scale the impact of the outcome. Meaning, not only be able to do a lot, but to do it in a way that delivers the most value.
That’s exactly where AI hit me as the only way to simplify massive results obtained through automation and make them digestible for humans.
So let me give you an example; there’s a wide variety of software that have the ability to process and count lots of words from a book. The average science fiction book for adults has anywhere between 70,000 and 120,000 words, so being able to count those words and determine the exact number is a massive work and a massive result when you think about those numbers… that is automation. But being able to process those words and coming up with a humanly understandable summary for anyone to learn what that book is about in three phrases, that requires AI. If I told you that book had 85,000 words that might not give you an idea as to how valuable that book is, but if I told you that you could learn how to live a better life by reading that book, then it might become more interesting to you. That’s where you get the most value.
The idea that I could embrace such an exciting technology that would help deliver the most value in any activity of my work then became a challenge that involved continuous research and education.
What lessons can others learn from your story?
There are actually two lessons to be learned here for anyone:
- The first one is related to the use of time: Anyone can try and do as much manual work as they can daily and still wouldn’t come close to the results you can get by automating. On the other hand, by trying to match the results you would get by automating, you would sacrifice important time that you need to dedicate to your colleagues and the business itself in order to deliver the most value. I’m talking about the time it takes to negotiate with your peers, inspire people that report to you, come up with fresh ideas, etc, etc.
- The second one is how to learn from the past and be prepared for the future: Regardless of how many waves of new technology we’ve seen others overcome and master in the past, any new form of technology is, for some reason, threatening to the generation in the workforce trying to learn it, as they also take care of their daily responsibilities. We all face the challenges related to making time to train ourselves and disengage from previously acquired habits.
- When you think about it, no calculator or computers replaced the need for accountants. So what has happened to those consultants is that their focus has shifted from manual activities to a more valuable use of their time which is the consulting part of their work.
Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
That is definitely a tough one, we have some great projects using artificial intelligence for many of our clients, but if I had to choose I would say an internal project in which we are automating the non-meaningful aspects of our HR and recruiting processes. We are automating all the repetitive and time-consuming activities of our staff team, and instead we’re putting in place systems that allow us to free up our time so we can dedicate all our human effort to interacting with and understanding our employees. The information and data we have been able to gather so far, evolves so quickly that we now can accurately understand who is engaged in their work and who is not, and dedicate the necessary efforts to those who may need more inspiration or help.
This project is particularly interesting to me because it involves many aspects and challenges of the use of AI. The first one, and the most important one being the team implementing all of this is not a technical team. There are some people with a tech background collaborating but there is no level of programming taking place. Because the main project stakeholders and people in charge of this project are non-technical people, we are able to demonstrate to the rest of our organization that building the right systems and using AI to leverage the results is something anyone can achieve. We’re also inspiring others to embrace artificial intelligence in their day-to-day activities in the process. Finally, this project itself is teaching our entire team, in essence, how to differentiate a fine line that I always teach people, which is, we want to automate everything except for those aspects of the work that involve human interaction. To me, learning this is the most valuable lesson taking place in the background.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are a ton of people that I would thank for helping me in my process of learning more about automation and artificial intelligence but the first people I would thank are Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Because when you think about what these guys have built (Google) and make it available for the rest of the world, to have access to information and to research pretty much free of cost, the value is just unbelievable.
To me, Google remains one of the most undervalued companies on Earth when you take into consideration the actual use we make of such a powerful platform.
Can I tell you a story about them? Unfortunately, no. I haven’t met them yet, but it would definitely be a pleasure to meet them!
What are the 5 things that most excite you about the AI industry? Why?
- The education I have obtained throughout the years of testing and implementing new technologies, which is what I intend to share with the most people I can.
- The applications of AI to the health industry as we develop an even more intimate understanding of our bodies to help ourselves prevent diseases.
- There is a general idea as to the capabilities of AI now. But I am fascinated by the potential of the creative uses we will give to this technology as it evolves in the future and we consciously make it a part of our day-to-day lives.
- The huge breakthroughs we will be able to make by combining and adopting AI and virtual/augmented reality, and how these two are going to enable us to be more productive working remotely.
- The time savings for sure and how AI is going to make us more human-focused as we free up our time.
What are the 5 things that concern you about the AI industry? Why?
I’m not more concerned about the use of AI than I am of the use of pretty much anything in the world. When you think about anything, literally anything, you can use it for good or you can use it for bad
I do have some concerns that I think, we’re not ready to address yet, and we will struggle to overcome as a society:
- How we can become addicted to the pleasure and comfort these technologies can provide.
- The use of our time as the entertainment industry is becoming more engaging and powerful.
- How we can become distant from the underlying problems of our society.
- The concentration and not democratization of data by governments and large corporations, and the risks to our privacy that such a threat poses.
- Building alternate realities for ourselves as opposed to continue to learn how to better coexist.
As you know, there is an ongoing debate between prominent scientists, (personified as a debate between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg,) about whether advanced AI has the future potential to pose a danger to humanity. What is your position about this?
Fire is great for cooking, but it can also pose a threat for humanity. Water is great for your health, but a flood poses a threat for humanity just as well. You can say pretty much the same about anything. It is all a matter of how we understand things and how we make use of them. But yes, it is a natural thing to be afraid of the things we just don’t understand.
The catch here is; unlike fire or water, we are in front of a fast evolving thing we (generally speaking) don’t understand but we have the idea, in the back of our heads, that it will evolve so quickly that we’ll never have the ability to catch up with it.
So, do I ultimately believe it can be a potential danger for technology? The answer is yes if we don’t educate ourselves to understand it and properly regulate it.
What can be done to prevent such concerns from materializing? And what can be done to assure the public that there is nothing to be concerned about?
The answer here is simple, and I believe will always be one: governments around the world becoming more aware and active in the use of these technologies and also becoming faster to regulate them and more transparent about communicating to the public.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I believe in the power of technology to enable us to do amazing things for humanity. In that specific regard, remote work has been a blessing both for me and my company, as it has been for those that we hire in remote/rural areas in different countries in Latin America. Now they don’t have to leave their families and we give them access to world class projects for clients in the US. By leveraging the many advantages of cloud platforms and collaboration systems, we can now make people a part of amazing opportunities that they didn’t even dream of having access to 10 years ago because they couldn’t get them in their local towns.
So with that in mind I remember going to universities in rural areas in Costa Rica and telling directors of universities: hey I’m here to offer your graduates projects with companies like The Discovery Channel, Warner Music Group, and other big players out there, and they just could not believe it.
As you know, there are not that many women in your industry. Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the AI industry?
There are statistics out there that reveal that women currently hold less than 30% of the jobs in the tech industry, so there is a broader challenge that needs to be tackled, than just bringing women to the AI industry. I believe that as we continue to mature our education systems to make it more technology-oriented, you will naturally see an increase in the levels of equality we will achieve in the near future as more people get familiar with technology in early stages of their lives.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is, with its many applications AI will become appealing by itself for more women out there.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
Funny thing you should ask that, my favorite life lesson quote is “practice makes master” and I don’t mean this in a good way, I mean it in a bad way. I always keep this so-called “life-lesson” in mind because of how wrong it is. And it just blows my mind how many people repeat it without even questioning what they’re saying.
Keep this in mind: mindless repetition has never made anyone successful, so no practice has no ability to make you better.
So, do I have a story about this? Yes sure:
Have you ever gone to a coffee shop to order coffee only to realize that it sucks? Well in most cases, if you go to the same coffee shop 3 months later, which is essentially 90 days later, and if you take into consideration that they make an average of 50 cups of coffee per day that’s 4500 cups of coffee later and when you go there again to order coffee, in most cases, it will continue to suck. Why? You ask because practice does not make a master.
I absolutely love coffee and I just can’t have enough of it, so one of the things that I enjoy the most is just going to a coffee shop sitting there with my laptop and getting some work done as I enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a good conversation.
I remember going to this Italian coffee shop in Madrid called Brunetti, they have one of the best Baristas I have ever met in my life, so no surprise, I kept going there to enjoy my coffee pretty much on a daily basis. At some point they were getting more clients, so they decided to hire another person to help. At the beginning, this new person wasn’t so good, but I do remember seeing them asking a lot of questions as they were preparing the coffee and the Barista was happy to answer all of them, not only that this person would ask me every time “how was your coffee?” and every time I would provide feedback that this person implemented in every cup of coffee that I had. It was clear to me that this new person really wanted to learn and they’re very best. In no time, and I’m talking a matter of weeks, this new person became just as good as the old barista.
Lesson behind this story: practice doesn’t make a master. What really makes you better is actively focusing on doing your very best, which means dedicating your efforts, gathering feedback, being open to really evaluating the feedback you’re getting, learning in every exercise and aim for perfection. This is essentially the scientific method applied to anything in life.
So I would say: “the scientific method makes master”.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I think I’m starting a movement here, and my movement is all about getting people to understand the value of two things: systems and automation as opposed to wasting their lives and their valuable time in manual work. I truly want people around me to be successful, to have work-life balance as they pursue success, and to really enjoy their lives. I really believe that as people around me learn more about automation they will dedicate their time to more meaningful work, more inspiring work and will finally achieve the levels of fulfillment they need to be happy.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I’m always active on LinkedIn and I post regularly, as I think that is a great way for me to stay in touch with the professionals out there who want to overcome the challenges of our always-changing world to become masters in their field. So go LinkedIn to search for Arturo Garcia and I will be happy to share my knowledge and experiences with you.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!