Hi, I’m Carl

The most influential moments in my life and how they led me to the creation of Extend AI

Carl Chouinard
Mar 26, 2019 · 7 min read

When I was 13 years old, I tried for the first time mountain biking shortly before winter. I immediately felt in love. Couple of days later, I asked my dad for help to buy a $800 mountain bike, only having $400 in my pockets. He asked why a $400 mountain bike couldn’t be enough to start with? Well because next year, I’ll become Quebec province mountain bike champion, I answered, so I need a good bike to win.

He gently laughed and looked at me with a skeptical look. “I respect your ambition, but you only ride a mountain bike once and never competed, so maybe you should be a bit more realistic…”.

Well if next year there are competitions then there will be a Quebec province mountain bike champion, right? So if I’m disciplined and I exercise all winter while giving my absolute best, why couldn’t that person be me I asked him.

He gave me the $400. One year later, I was Quebec province mountain bike champion. That moment, that sentence, changed my life. I’m since completely amazed about the intricate relationship the brain maintains with its environment.

I could visualize the future, evaluate different course of actions, see myself on that podium. When I was tired, I was visualizing another person pushing it more than me, so that motivated me to beat even my virtual opponents.

How can patterns of matter in the brain shape the environment and vice and versa through a spacetime continuum? How can we live up to our full potential?

Dropping out of school

I started to do tech support for my neighbours a couple of months later, spending my week-ends learning how this wonderful machine worked. I grew my micro-business to nearly fifty clients. This experience was also really influential in my life, I understood I could do what I really like and make a good living out of it. Work and passion can and should be one.

Through that really strong passion, I learned the most useful thing ever! I learned how to learn. From there, the world opened up and I really became impatient during school classes. I never really liked school, but now it was really hard for me to sit in a room and wait a full session to learn what I could learn in a week or two just by reading books and making software to validate my understanding.

While studying natural sciences in Quebec City, I was learning on my own how to program in C++ and how to create web applications (in the early days of the web!). After a year, I went to my father and told him “Listen man, I know you really want me to stay in school but I’m really bored, I feel I’m wasting my time.”

I had gathered $20K in savings from my tech support micro-business. So I asked my father, “If I buy $20K of books, I’m really disciplined in studying them and I read them within a year, can you continue to pay for my flat even tho I dropout of school? After that year, I’ll start a software development company.” (please if you want to become a surgeon, don’t follow this path :P)

We’ve been in a similar place before — he accepted. One year later, I had read for $20K of books (bunch of expensive Springer books so it goes fast on the budget), and I launched my first software development company.

Within the first six months, we were working with clients such as Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly, building web platforms to deliver information to doctors around the world.

I was again astonished to see how a simple idea could materialized in the “real” world.

From Canada to San Francisco

After developing a rough prototype, I decided it was time for me to go to Silicon Valley! I’ve dreamed of making my way to Silicon Valley for so many years. Living in Canada, without a proper diploma, it was pretty hard to get in. But my prototype was my passport … or so I thought.

In 2010, I jumped in a plane — direction San Francisco. AI wasn’t as trendy as it is today. It was still a pretty hard sell. I needed a significant amount of data to train my models, for which I had good strategy to gather it, but didn’t had in my possession.

Long story short, I failed. I’ve learned so much and it was a really great reality check. Even though it didn’t worked out like I wanted … it convinced me of one thing, that AI would be a serious game changer and that I absolutely needed to continue in that path. So I rolled up my sleeves and decided to work even harder. I wasn’t done with Silicon Valley!

In Fall of 2014, a friend entered my office all excited, he told me “open your browser now and checkout The Grid!”. I was on shock. An AI website designer. Bold vision. Amazing team.

I told myself, ok man, in the next three months, The Grid will certainly add new members to their team, if I’m discipline, … you know the music by now… why couldn’t I be one of them?

I started contributing to their open source project GSS, one of the key technology used in The Grid stack. The mathematical depth of this project was fascinating. I was trilled to contribute to a project initiated by amazing people like Greg Badros, who has been VP Engineering & Products at Facebook.

Three months later, I received an offer to join The Grid team and my face was now on GSS website! Soon after, I was offered the CTO role. Thanks Dan Tocchini and all people involved in The Grid for that amazing ride.

Another really strong lesson is that we need to get out there. Don’t hesitate to reach out, contribute and help!

And yes, I was even more astonished to see how a simple idea materialized one more time in the “real” world.

From San Francisco to Canada

But before diving in, I took a few months in the woods, I have an amazing piece of land in Canada, to step back from that incredible San Francisco ride and take time to reconnect with nature after being intensively emerged in tech.

Taking time to step back in order to see the big picture is another really important lesson I’ve learned. It gives us the mental space needed to challenge our model of the world and enables us to connect the dots. Investing time in ourself is the best investment anyone can make!

While looking at the beautiful landscape, my brain started to spin. Through the beauty of nature, every single experience in my life started to connect, laying out a beautiful vision …

What if we could understand and model spacetime at a fundamental level and leverage computational power on it? Since our brains are part of the spacetime continuum we are observing and in which we evolve, if we can extend our spacetime abilities, we could increase the odds of transforming any ideas into reality. What if we could extend human potential through artificial intelligence?

Launching Extend AI

In a couple of years, a few AI companies will have a profound and significant impact of the course of human history, if I’m disciplined, if I work hard to the absolute best of my capacities, I don’t see why Extend AI couldn’t be one of them.

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Extend AI

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