Q&A with Constellation AI Founder Tom Strange

Constellation AI
Oct 12, 2018 · 6 min read

Part 5 of 7 — Non-linear thinking, for a radically different future.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The Rebels”.

Constellation CEO and founder Tom Strange hints at his long-term vision for the future of technology and shares how you can become an impactful future thinker, able to overcome the human reaction to reject new concepts and ideas.

What is your long-term vision for the future of technology?

There’s no shortage of people commenting on the future of tech, but the real truth is, nobody can foresee the nature or magnitude of what’s going to most impact our lives. Read books about randomness — such as ‘The Black Swan’ by Taleb — and you see the human tendency to simplistically post-rationalise the extreme impact of unpredictable outlier events. When it comes to the long-term future, how one thinks is more important than what one thinks. The latter is probably wrong, but the former reveals a lot: including the values and ethics guiding it.

Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook command arguably more power and secrecy than entire countries and have billions of dollars at their disposal to create and influence our future, or buy up anything that might displace their role in defining it. My vision for the future becoming society’s reality is going to depend on out-executing them and their combined three trillion-dollar market cap. We’re working on something I think could do that. Ultimately, people should decide what they want for themselves and for humanity. We offer a new path.

I love talking about my vision for the future, but a lot of our readers have big aspirations of their own. Perhaps I can add more value to them by sharing an approach that can enable free thinking, help them construct their own ideas and bring others on their journey. It’s vital if you want to hire the best people in the world, create a product and raise capital.

When sharing an audacious vision for the future it can sometimes be met with a cynical disbelief that it’s not possible (or a reference to the TV show Black Mirror’s dystopian spin on tech). So, what is behind the human reaction to reject new concepts and ideas? How do you enrol people in your future vision? And how can you become an impactful future thinker?

At some level, we all have a need for certainty and significance. New and different ways of living can challenge current beliefs. Changes to what we know and are comfortable with may evoke internal questions (often at a subconscious level) around one’s ability to stay relevant and thrive; and how we can find a place in a world that’s changing faster than perhaps we ourselves can.

It’s generally not helpful to directly challenge someone’s existing beliefs. One approach I’ve found useful if someone has a limiting belief, is to simply break their pattern of thinking and help them challenge their belief themselves; reframing is one way to do that. I’ll give you an example to bring this to life.

On a visit to the Tower of London; as you tour the castle you hear about executions by way of beheading, hanging, burning at the stake or the infliction of unimaginable pain by being ‘hung, drawn and quartered’. This was a societal norm, even for royals. There have been future thinkers throughout time; but few would have envisioned tourists wandering the tower, posting to Instagram, FaceTiming friends on the other side of the world or ordering a Deliveroo whilst waiting for an Uber home.

This anecdote shows the magnitude of change in societal norms and hints at the likelihood of change by the same, or a larger degree in the future. If you have an audacious vision, be prepared to encounter our limited human perspective: but don’t let someone else’s limited perspective become your reality. After creating plausibility, you can move onto immediacy.

It may be surprising to hear the last capital punishment in the UK, a hanging, was as recent as 1964 — not 1064. Of course, there are parts of the world where this still happens but here in the UK seems oddly recent. In the short time since then, we’ve space walked; advanced gene sequencing and created computers, the internet and the smart phone. In 1998 when Steve Jobs celebrated “the crazy ones, the misfits and the rebels”, we didn’t have autonomous cars or a vehicle roaming Mars. Intervals between rapid-step changes are getting shorter, yet we often apply linear thinking to non-linear technological progression. Ultimately, this results in an acceptance that something might be possible, but only very far into the future. A reference like this helps people accept the potential for rapid societal and technological change.

Whether you’re a technologist with a vision, or a consumer of technology opting into a vision being created for you by a company whose products you use: now is the time to take reflect. Companies you’ve entrusted to know everything about you use the information to make billions of dollars in ways that don’t always serve you (such as selling your attention to other people) in a highly effective way. Like you, we don’t know the nuances of their plans; but we have read about the data scandals, the cover-ups, the loss of your data and the no-shows in the U.S. Senate.

There are incredible things happening in technology and they are arriving faster than we may think. People, such as engineer and entrepreneur Elon Musk, are pushing boundaries: moving the ‘future of human-meets-tech’ firmly into the spotlight with Neuralink. Does it feel right to allow these big companies to take increasing steps into our lives and soon into our minds? I’m unconvinced, and I want there to be a better way. That’s why I created Constellation.

In my vision for the future, our technology will help you find your place in the world, be your best self and ultimately to serve you. We can’t predict the future, but Constellation AI has a team of over 30 phenomenal people from 14 countries working hard to create a vision of it.

Join us on the journey and be part our mission. Take a stand for a more human future where you’re put first.

Join the waitlist for imi — your digital mind — now.

Key take-aways

· You need to be able to enrol people in your vision and dreams to make them real.

· Most people have a relatively high need for certainty and significance — be mindful that your vision and dreams may challenge this — and meet these needs through your vision.

· When someone challenges your vision try to avoid debating it — instead offer an idea that helps them challenge their own thinking. Metaphors and unrelated ideas work well.

· Reframe their mind away from limited and linear thinking; through objective reference points communicate non-linear progression with hints of the future you see as part of it.

This is part 5 of 7. Part 6 of the series will be available here on Friday 19th October.

Constellation AI’s app imi is currently in beta testing stage. Sign up here for the wait list.

Constellation AI

We’re building an AI that’s good for people, by making machines fluent in human.

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