Moving from A.I. to Artificial Wisdom (Guest: Yoon Lee)

In this episode of the Masters of Data podcast, I sit down with Yoon Lee for a captivating discussion on the current landscape around global technology and hot-topic concepts like A.I.. Yoon is at the intersection of innovation and creation at one of the most important technology companies in the world. Yoon is the Senior Vice President and Division Head, Content and Services, Product Innovation at Samsung Electronics America. As Yoon and I discuss, in today’s world, our lives are connected to our devices in a way inconceivable even a few decades ago. Yoon is in a unique position to understand how A.I. when paired with an understanding of the human context can make for better experiences for users. His work at Samsung is proving not only the longevity of A.I. in the technology marketplace but is also proving how there is increasing demand for A.I. not just to make things automated through increasing automation, but also how there is an emergence of the idea of Artificial Wisdom, which the two dedicate time to reviewing.

As is commonplace in the Masters of Data podcast, Yoon kicks off the conversation by sharing a little bit about his background and his entry into his current role at Samsung as Senior Vice President and Division Head, Content and Services, Product Innovation. As Yoon shares, he has always been an engineer at heart, is trained as a mechanical engineer and has always loved working on cars and machines. After graduating from University of Michigan in the 90’s Yoon joined a robotics company but ultimately moved back to the West Coast where he continued his work on the engineering side of industry until an opportunity in the product development space opened up. This is where he began gaining a knack for consulting which eventually led him to Samsung where he now focuses his time and attention to innovation while working for a historically OEM and manufacturing-driven company.

Inevitably the conversation shifts to focusing on the ideas of what it means to be connected in today’s society. While the concept of being connected is a bit of a buzzword these days, the reality is we are more connected to technology and each other than ever before. By way of example Yoon raises the idea that just a few years ago people would make a plan to meet somewhere at a certain time and then arrange their lives around that event because a plan was made. But due to our connectedness to others now, we make tentative plans without having to prioritize concrete times and places because we know the other person is so easily accessible through our connected society. There’s a fluidity now to our lives that we didn’t have before but it also makes us the center of our lives because we are able to make plans, cancel events and have everything be done instantaneously at the tap of a finger. But aside from this being positioned as the new normal, the purpose of this talking point is to marry this reality to the future of A.I. and what we are asking artificial intelligence to do for us moving forward to help fulfill and prolong this cultural mentality.

As Yoon and I continue to discuss, there is now an adaptation in the realms of human thinking and A.I. to develop not only Artificial Intelligence but also adapt Artificial Wisdom. As Yoon notes, “The advancement in A.I. and other technology that can curate to your needs and behaviors are really moving not just content-centric, but now putting you as the center, your context at the center.“ What this means is that the new wave of A.I. is not just making things more automated, but becoming more wise in what it can do. An example of this would be that if you tend to start watching content on a mobile device then transfer to bed, it will intrinsically be able to turn off the display of your device and keep the audio playing to save battery power. But part of the idea of wisdom comes from the idea that human thinking is not black and white as many interpret it to be. As Yoon believes, “Trying to define human thinking in a black and white way is actually causing a lot of problems. And when you start accepting the fact that human thinking is gray, then I think data should be used as more of an assistant or a way to kind of assist with your decision making. Not necessarily…be the barometer for making the decision.” So how does this happen? Again, Yoon says that, “You can’t be dumb and have wisdom. In order to have wisdom, you have to have some level of intelligence. So I think this A.I., if it reached to a level where we can call it artificial wisdom, I think that’s going to be when…It’ll be much more contextual to you.” This conversation no doubt shows how our culture is looking to data and automation to not only improve our quality of life but also prolong our connectedness with each other in new and unimaginable ways.

Outbound Links & Resources Mentioned

Masters of Data Episode

Follow Yoon on Twitter @ylee911

Connect with Yoon on LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/yoon-c-lee-62573a3/

Key Takeaways

  • When a company’s heritage is OEM (like Samsung) it’s very difficult to move culturally from one culture to another culture as they look to enter the product space.
  • Samsung has two big businesses. One is semiconductor business, and the other one is consumer-driven product business
  • It is next to impossible to define consumer goal.
  • Businesses look to develop insight around latent needs and understand what consumers are saying, even if they’re not saying it explicitly.
  • Businesses have to interpret data from an insight standpoint, and then give their own point of view on what that means.
  • Before the content-centric world, it was a device-centric world.
  • Device has to have the capability and the horsepower to do what you want.
  • We’re now living in a world where we start demanding our own preference.
  • Technology has had a three-step evolution. First it was the device. Then we wanted experience with the device, and now we want context.
  • Everyone has different context but context says “Now I know what can be done, you need to tell me what needs to be done.”
  • We are entering the advancement in AI and other technology which can curate to your needs and behaviors, putting you as the center, your context at the center.
  • Context really means that you have the content, the device, and now all the connected technology has to know specifically what you are looking for, and then cater to that.
  • Because of our connectedness we can move milestones (like defined plans or events) around in our life because we’re connected.
  • There’s now a fluidity that we didn’t have before.
  • Back in the early ’90s, there were all kinds of control theories. It was very mathematical. And those control theories were there because in order to achieve a certain level of accuracy.
  • Now, these control theories are not used anymore because the computer is so powerful. All you need to do is just process all that data.
  • Big data is so much more powerful and useful, but applying big data to all corners of behavior studies and things like that is a bit of an overkill.
  • You have to accept the fact that human thinking is malleable, that human thinking is gray, human thinking is not black and white. Trying to define human behavior, human thinking in a black and white way is actually causing a lot of problems.
  • When you start accepting the fact that human thinking is gray, then data should be used as more of an assistant or a way to kind of assist with your decision making.
  • We’re in a transitionary society. A lot of the decision makers weren’t exposed to the new tools and the new technologies. So it’s very difficult for them to speak that language.
  • A.I. and machine learning is very important. It’s the next steps moving from a content world to the context world because it’s requiring intelligence. Intelligence, is what makes it contextual. Machine has to learn that it adapts to how you want to change.
  • There is a wisdom piece that makes people successful, not just the overall intelligence. You can’t be dumb and have wisdom. In order to have wisdom, you have to have some level of intelligence.
  • Artificial Intelligence, if it reached to a level where we can call it artificial wisdom, will be much more contextual to you.