Digital Squared

Exploring Humanity's Future with Technology and Digital Companionship

April 23, 2024 Tom Andriola Season 2 Episode 8
Exploring Humanity's Future with Technology and Digital Companionship
Digital Squared
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Digital Squared
Exploring Humanity's Future with Technology and Digital Companionship
Apr 23, 2024 Season 2 Episode 8
Tom Andriola

On this episode of Digital Squared, Tom talks with Susan Cummings, CEO of Petaverse Network and Tiny Rebel Games and co-founder of 2K games. Together they discuss the evolution of gaming technology, the utility of AI as a creative enhancement tool rather than a replacement for human ingenuity, and Susan’s unique take on technology's role in our evolving humanity.

Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Digital Squared, Tom talks with Susan Cummings, CEO of Petaverse Network and Tiny Rebel Games and co-founder of 2K games. Together they discuss the evolution of gaming technology, the utility of AI as a creative enhancement tool rather than a replacement for human ingenuity, and Susan’s unique take on technology's role in our evolving humanity.

Welcome to Digital squared, a podcast that explores the implications of living in an increasingly digital world. We're on a mission to inspire our listeners to use technology and data for good. Your host Tom Andriola is the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and data and Chief Digital Officer at the University of California at Irvine. Join us as Tom and fellow leaders discussed the technological, cultural and societal trends that are shaping our world.

On this episode of digital square, I talk with Susan Cummings, CEO of Petaverse Network and Tiny Rebel Games, and co founder of 2k Games. Susan is a visionary in the video game industry. Through ventures like Petaverse, she imagines a future where technology and the human experience of a harmonious coexistence. Together we discuss the evolution of gaming technology, the utility of AI as a creative enhancement tool, rather than a replacement for human ingenuity. And Susan's unique take on technology's role in preserving humanity . Susan, it's a pleasure to have you on the podcast today.

Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. 

Susan, you've been in the gaming industry for a long time. Take us through that journey. But can you also talk about how the sophistication of gaming has evolved? And as you've gone through your 25 plus years in the industry? 

Yeah, massively. I got involved in the video game industry coming straight out of college in the mid 90s. And I stumbled into the industry by accident, you might say I was a recruiter. And I was working for a search firm in Boston that wanted me to specialize in something he called Multimedia back when we still call it multimedia. And he threw a book of multimedia companies at me and most of them were game companies. And so I started talking to game companies. That was the sort of oddball way I got in. And so I became one of the first really recruited specializing in video games, and a woman at that. And there weren't a lot of women in the industry at the time. So that was interesting as well. So anyway, so I was a recruiter. And then from that I got bored, and I started doing business deals. And that's where I stumbled upon Grand Theft Auto. I was working with the BMG interactive team on their answer projects. And so I got involved in selling off the rights to Grand Theft Auto essentially. And you'll you'll see the theme of my career as a bunch of roundabout decisions that make a lot of sense if you look at it from a 100 foot view, but it certainly didn't seem logical at the time. At the time, I was talking to Take Two Interactive who owns Rockstar Games, Ryan Brant ran take two, we were doing a few deals together. Long story short, he managed to convince BMG interactive to sell to him instead of another company that doesn't exist anymore. And that became Rockstar Games. And a few years later, I joined Rockstar, and my husband who was working at Sony and QA came with me, and he worked his way up to producing on Grand Theft Auto. I was always falling back into deals with Ryan, which led to us building 2k games and 2k sports together. And when we left about 15 years ago, after signing, I signed much of what 2k is right now I signed BioShock Borderlands and bought civilization in XCOM, from Atari and a bunch of studios. And that was a really fun, pivotal time for my career. And going back to your question, the industry was getting much more robust, going back to back and I got involved it was PlayStation and the Sega system and the consoles and PC. And that was really it. And by the time I left take two mobile was starting to become a thing. Lee and I started tiny rebel games. So that was 15 years ago. And we did a lot of work with different companies fighting fires, really before migrating into mobile ourselves. And so we did a very early mobile game called Doctor Who legacy that was a puzzle and dragon style fighting gem game that was much loved 3 million people I think played that and it was a big learning experience for us. And that was right before we moved to Wales and so we moved our business to the UK and the last eight years have been wild. The Welsh Government funded a follow up Doctor Who game for us, then we won a multimillion pound grant to work out the future of storytelling with IP and did a really interesting projects and we could talk about with Aardman called the Big Fix Up Wallace and Gromit The Big Fix Up. And then

I just to say I grew up with my kids watching Wallace and Gromit so just there's so much street cred with me that you're really working with that. 

Oh, it's a dream come true. Aardman people are is wonderful to work with as you can imagine, the word that comes to mind is delightful. Everything they do has so much attention to detail on love and thought that goes into it. They really have just become good friends of ours from working on that project. Some of them have worked on this project as well that we're doing now. One of the writers, for example, works on our team. So three years ago coming out of the out of this big AR project that we did, which was the Wallace and Gromit project It was leading edge Jr. We raised funding to build the next generation of the virtual pet, which is Petaverse. And so this is a pet designed to be with you across your digital life. And we're a 26 person team now that's fully remote that I founded with my husband, that we're continuing to build and grow. So it's an exciting time for us and fulfills a life goal that I have happened my own studio. 

Yeah, one of the things I love about giving our guests the opportunity is see the flow that people go through. And it's not planned, right. It's not a ladder. It's a rock climbing expedition where there's a relationship. There's an introduction, there's a pivot, right, there's a leap of faith. And it's just so interesting to hear people talk about how they got, where they are, and how their passion played into what they decided to go do next. It's amazing. Susan, I'd love to ask, right, but you talked about getting involved in the mid 90s. In the gaming industry, tech, in general is a male dominated industry. I'm one of those people who've been pushing really hard to have greater diversity. But can you talk a little about what it's been to be a woman in a male dominated industry and how it's affected also how you lead your teams. 

When I got involved in the 90s, I was definitely one of very few women in the room. That was obvious to me at the time. But I was in my mid 20s, and naive and it never really stopped me. So I think ways that it impacted me I see later in life, I look back on things that I accepted in terms of compensation or control and things that I think, you know, I bet if I were if I were a guy, perhaps that might have been a bit different. But I think I'm very privileged. And that's the wrong word. And the fact that I don't think it has dramatically impacted my career. And I certainly haven't experienced any of the horrible harassment, things that are starting to come out within the industry, sort of me too era. So I consider myself fortunate that I was very lucky that I haven't had those experiences. But certainly, as a founder, as founder who raised a VC Round Two years ago, I'm well aware of the baggage of being female. And I'm startled to see that 1% of VC deals the year I closed, where women lead, it was flattering and horrifying, all at the same time. And by 26, people signed a shareholders agreement and only one of them was female, says all you need to hear there. So I have certainly made efforts on my end to be as diverse as we can, obviously always want to hire the best people when it comes down to it. On the other hand, you really have to make an effort to if you're going to make content for a global market, you need to understand the global market. And you can't do that by just having a bunch of white men in a room making games. So I think our team is about a third female, and we consciously chose to be fully remote, regardless of the pandemic. And that allows us a lot of flexibility for people with mental health challenges, or children that they have to pick up from school, myself included. I'm a mom. And so I think that we were trying to do everything that we can to make it a hospitable environment for everybody. And not just for guys. 

That's great to hear. And it's definitely getting better getting better. It's getting better. Yeah.

And it's not just about women that when what we have to do for ourselves, it's about men like yourself, or saying, how do we do better my husband's like that as well. So again, I'm really lucky that I have a husband who never would dream of selling me short, because I'm the female. My on my board, Nick button. Brown, who is also one of my investors, makes a tremendous effort to help female founders and frees you launch the x box is one of my investors and set up a fund specifically for diversity. And he's invested in 70 Studios. Now I think his partner is female. And I'm not sure how many female led studios are quite a few. And there are who's who of the industry. So he's not just throwing a bone he is he's making an effort to find really talented women and backing them. So it takes the guys to there's a lot here for men to do to help improve. 

Absolutely, ya know, one of the reasons why I try to evolve as a leader is that men have to lean in on this issue, which it's not acceptable from a leadership perspective, to be silent on it, you have to lean in, you have to show up, you have to find your voice. That's one things I always talk about. It can be very hard at times, it's taken me quite a while that find my voice in the conversation. Because of my demographic, by definition, I'm the problem. But to sit silently also just exacerbates the perception that I'm the problem. So I appreciate the the exchange on it. And I'm also we also have to get back in the pipeline and helping young girls and young women not opt out of feet of fields that will lead the lead them into these fields. And yes, that's why it's so interesting with what's happening with generative AI and that you don't have to become a coder anymore. All you have to know is language syntax. And you can get in and out use these tools and do things that only people who were willing to learn how to write code or do and that's a very exciting future for all of us. Let's talk about the VR XR a AR space, because I've been intrigued with it for a couple of years now really, I look at technology as tools to create a better outcome somewhere in our world. And this whole movement around virtual extended augmented reality is quite interesting. It's opened up entire new markets. Every week, I get a couple people send me a link and saying you need to go in with your headset and like, watch this. And it just blows my mind. Like where we're going with this stuff. From your vantage point, having really built your entire career and rolled with the movements and been a part of shaping What's tomorrow. Where do you think this is taking us?

I think that the launch of the vision Pro is really exciting. Not because I think it's a consumer device. I think it's as much a dev kit as it as anything else. But I think it's really exciting to see how almost instantly, it moves the needle. Those are the kinds of use cases that are really exciting. It becomes like His Dark Materials and demons. But what would your Damon be? What would your sidekick look like? Is it a bird is a dragon? And how does my dragon interact with your bird? And so you start to see that Pullman's vision there isn't so crazy. It'll, it'll be digital, not physical. But that's where I see it. That's really what I fundamentally see changing. What's great about AR that is less cool about VR, is VR closes us off even more so than mobile phones, do. Mobile phones have us all looking down. VR completely shuts us off in the world. AR has us looking around us. And in many ways, I think it reunites us as people that 

it integrates the two worlds rather than creating two personas sewn in each world. I think that's one of the interesting things that as I play more and more with this is, do we end up with two existences. A physical one in a digital one, right? Or is it an integrated existence where we seamlessly bounce in between them?

And that's to me, that's the metaverse to me, too. Yeah. It's the how it all gets linked together is what I think of it the metaverse, it's like the it's the plumbing, it's the subway system of the future. It's how we pass information between so I don't think it's about one ready player, one world that you go off to, it's just about how does this technology just become a party or a holistic part of your life. And sometimes you want to have a VR experience and your glasses can blacking out like some of them are already doing like the extra glasses for that experience. And then they can brighten up when you're outside, it becomes like 100, you know, when you can see that you have a message and you know, the stuff that Google Glasses was doing ages ago, you know that I think that's a part of it, too. So I think it's less about discrete game experiences. And it's more about just a different way of thinking about your life. Another good example, my partner said to me, that he can imagine in the future, all of our houses will just be blank in the inside. And you'll put the arts on the walls and coloring and things like that. And anchor that in the environment. And you can change it, maybe your in laws come over and you want something a bit tamer, it changed what your environment looks like, we need to buy those things anymore, or they all be the digital. That's fascinating, isn't it? I love the idea that you just keep changing your house and your environment based on your company. 

That's going to be a lot cheaper for my pocketbook. So yeah, exactly. Yeah. I'm married to an interior designer, so you always have an idea for something that that should change like they can now make it can be become a daily activity of fans. 

So it makes digital assets relevant to right, because there's a way to display them. Yeah.

Yeah, that's actually very interesting. The world right now is on fire, though around large language models, generative AI, where does that come into play in the world that you're building.

So we use AI in a bunch of different ways. I've never been doom and gloom about it, we started messing around with Dali, when it was in beta. So we had a tiny bit of an edge there and getting to mess around with it and figure out what I could do. And we've done a few things with it on our team, that's been really helpful. I think there are two things that are really interesting about AI, they help us to be better at the things that we're not very good at this goes back to what you were saying about just because you don't know how to code doesn't mean you can participate in coding, thanks to AI. So we It means that if you're a if you're a game designer, and your version of art is stick figures, you can give something to an artist to help explain what's in your head without having to be able to draw it and not expecting it to be the final product. But it really cuts down on the time to articulate your vision to someone. And it means that a writer can mess with art and artists can mess with writing, and back and forth. And so I don't think they're a replacement, but they just help us to have some base level of competency and things we couldn't otherwise do. So that's really interesting. We've used it with our product as well. We actually built our own technology and event system in a state engine on top of open AI to give to to simulate life for a digital pet. So that they're they're making decisions in real time without you and going off in Adventures without you, and they can send things to you and their stats change based on the things that they're doing. So there's interesting use cases like that we've done a storytelling engine for your virtual pets, so they can go off and storytelling adventures and choose your own adventure with you. So there's so many interesting ways it can enrich an experience, I don't think it's gonna replace it, I don't think there's a magic button that's going to start making games, I think it's a full stream. And there are certainly people getting funded on the back of those things. I don't think that's going to replace our industry. But again, I think it's a way of iterating. It's a way of prototyping and pre visualization and things like that, that that can save time and money at a time when we need to find ways to save time and save money and be faster.

Being at a university, we have different schools who, in our university, they're researching the research and discoveries, part of their mission, teaching part of their mission. And so I was talking with the dean for the School of Arts. And I was I really just took a question to her, which is, Hey, Sora, right, this concept of prompt to video, and it pointed her to someone who has built their career has their career in that and go and they were just shocked at how the quality of what was coming through that pipeline. What do you think tools like soar end up doing? And do you think it democratizes storytelling in a way that social media has completely disrupted traditional media? Are we going to see that type of movement now as these tools or be able to put production quality stuff in the hands of someone as inept as me?

Again, I think it's going to help with storytelling, I don't think it's gonna replace Scorsese, things like that. I think when it comes to the art of the really hardcore art of storytelling, the Oscar winner stuff, I don't think I don't think AI is ever going to replace that. And the personality of an actor, maybe I'm wrong, especially when you think about the uncanny valley of just what's possible, visually, to make that work. And the deep fake stuff is certainly terrifying, especially right now in terms of politics. So that part of it scares me. On the other hand, it's fascinating, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. I'm dying, I'm dying to see what it can actually do versus the videos that we've seen. 

And  I always think about like, it will replace Scorsese. But to Scorsese, you have 10 or 20 years from now, we'll have different things that make them special. Factor, but Amazon is still retail. But what makes a retailer successful has completely changed through the advent of the internet and digital commerce that way.

And when you think about pre visualization, which they're already used to doing in the film industry, and for a while there, I don't know how much they are now. But I know Magic Leap was being used for previous for directors and things like that. So I can imagine the same way I said for my partner, and he can show our concept artists what he wants by messing around, and my art director uses it as well as a starting point to think so are our team has embraced it as a tool, I think you'll see the same thing there. The question is just the realities of using AI. For example, I was trying to create some AI images the other day of a of what I imagined the blindness described this AR feature where I've got glasses, and I've got my pet that can lead me around. And they kept screwing it up. And I kept not really following my instructions. And I finally got to something that was 90%. There. And that's where I realized how hard it is to get the other 10%. Because even if I said to open AI, keep everything exactly as it is. But take the glasses off the dog, it would screw it up and it would reinvest a paycheck. And so as time saving is a Canvey, it's also furrific. That and that's where the role of the concept artist is. I just wanted a person that I could say, could you just change that one thing for me? And so that's what I'm curious when it comes to Surah is how much control you have over it? Because that's the art of filmmaking like anything else is, what about that one thing I wanted to change? What if I wanted to change that character's voice?

That's such a fascinating insight, because that is dead on when you're using it. Yeah. Crazy stuff. At the same level tweak.

Yeah, and I'm not sure why that is. And maybe I'm being ignorant to the fact that there's a better tool out there for doing some of that. But that's been my hang up has been the editing of the stuff. 

So since I mentioned my role to university, you also are visiting professor at University of South Wales, correct? 

Yeah, my partner and I both for I think about seven years now. 

So I'm curious to get your take on today's students watching them. And then once you try to leave with them as they go off from you and go towards whatever they're going to go do next.

Let the biggest it was moving to Wales was interesting, because I moved from places where there were just kind of industry there was nothing special about being from the game industry when I lived in LA or when I lived in San Francisco. But moving to Wales and having done some significant things in the past that was exciting. So I had the universities wanting to get us involved. And the biggest thing that I wasn't seeing enough of and that we've tried to impart is more of making games. If you want to make movies you watch movies, too. You wouldn't dream of being a filmmaker who never bothered to try to make their own stuff and in the game and this Free, it's the same thing. You can't want to be a game developer and not actually be actively making stuff. So we've been trying to encourage people to team up to in a time when indie can make a game again, by themselves, like things like Stardew Valley, there's no excuse to not be tinkering in unity in Unreal in Godot, etc. One of the main things that we do with the university is designed their second year project every year, we give them the remit. And my partner really is the one who does this. So for example, my favorite was the first year and the remit was, it has to be a 10 minute game, the world is ending in 10 minutes, there's nothing you can change about that the world will end in 10 minutes. And you need to make a game about that. And it was really fascinating to see where the kids were with that there was anything from a very cut and dry someone on death row. In a jail, there was someone who was confined to a wheelchair. And outside the window, you could see like a solar flare, I was like a star or something was about to hit the planet. There was one about a subway and whether I'm sorry, a submarine and the button to launch a nuke. And so it went like 20 different directions. But it was really great. And it's really fun to try to come up with things that are viable within the scope of the sort of 10 weeks that they have and the skills that they have. And we keep trying to bring in other departments to so now the audio department at the University gets involved. I think one year, some of the like the marketing free to folks got involved, too. And so we've been trying to encourage more of that of getting that sort of learning how to deal with other disciplines on learning how to collaborate together, but we've gotten our team more involved now that we have a bigger team. When we started doing this, it was just the two of us now that we have 26 people, we invite some of our staff to participate and give feedback on on art or design or scheduling and things like that. Ticketing, JIRA ticketing and things.

I always like to ask this question when people have connection to the let's call the Gen Z talent that's coming into our world. It is so many of the executives that run businesses today, their opinions on Gen Z are shaped by what they might read in a New York Times article, I get to see them every day. And I'm actually just blown away at the potential that they bring. Are they different? Yes. Do they think of their brains wired differently? Absolutely. Do they not conform to the way that we think professionals are the way we were forced as professionals to develop our career and the work life balances that were thrown at us? Yes, they actually pushed back on those norms. But I think there's incredible talent and and hope in them that I tried to really bring that out when I talk to people don't judge this generations contribution by what you read, experience them. And so we've been trying to bring more companies to our university campus, get them get the students working in experiential learning opportunities, working on real projects with the company, because I just think they're amazing. But we have to stop labeling them. Much like I think every generation gets labeled with something I'm part of the slacker generation. And I turned out not too bad.

Yeah, 100% Things have changed the culture that I was willing to work in when I was in my 20s is not a culture that 20 Somethings are willing to work in. Now. When I worked at Rockstar, we were working seven days a week you were coming in whether or not you had anything to do, because you had to show face and you had to be there. And that was important, and was a culture of bullying, and fear. And none of that's acceptable now. And I think that, of course it was going to be a downside in productivity, potentially. But I think that's a necessary evil, because that's just not good for and it's not healthy. And so I think that the this generation, I think is influencing the industry to clean up to worry about people's mental health, and to think about how we treat each other and think about other genders and so forth. And that's all really good, because it's a world I think we'd all prefer to live in. It's maybe slightly less productive, but more holistic and sustainable.

I wouldn't even say it's less productive. And maybe it's not. You're right, you're right. Here's what I see is I see let's see the mid career people who were whose mid brains about how work gets done built around a certain paradigm and a set of tools. We don't adopt things as quickly as the younger generation does. And so they come in, and they're like, why do you do it that way, you get this these tools, this tools, and you generate AI for this. And all of a sudden they do something in 30 minutes, that someone in there for days takes four hours to do. And because they're using better tools that they are just more native to write. And so that doesn't always get reflected in the productivity metrics when we measure them at the economist level. But what I see is build turn things around. And I'll be just like, that's actually you from time we talked about it the time I'm looking at something and the amount of steps forward and the amount of time you spent on it. That's actually pretty good. It's it's a different way of thinking. And I think that's what I tried to bring out like you have to understand it's not right or wrong. It's just different. And if you look for the value in different, you'll find some amazing things. Let's jump the Petaverse. I want to give you an opportunity. So I've looked at what's available online. Some of my colleagues are really excited When they saw Petaverse, you'd mentioned a little bit earlier, but talk about what it is the inspiration behind it and what your hopes for it far.

Yeah look like the big audacious Northstar vision is your digital pet across your digital life forever, and meaning interoperable across any experience that's unity based, for example, that's something that was called a pipe dream for a while, that's not a pipe dream, we've built the tech stack for the digital pet. And we've built a bunch of ways that you can use it, we spent the last few years building AR VR games video call, you can bring your pet onto your video call, you can bring them onto your Twitch stream, your audience can play with your pet on the Twitch stream. So we built out all these different ways to prove out that interoperability. And the whole point of this has always been that one day those AR glasses are going to be a reality. And right now we can get a digital pet in someone's hands that we can make just as relevant once they have those glasses. And so everything about what we've designed was to make that possible, so that you can bring it on to a different game, because we have the tech stack for that. To make it we talk about reinterpreting the art style of something, we've given them a blueprint of what they look like, so that we can change what they look like, we can change the art style. So if in the future, those air glasses have gotten profoundly faster and more efficient and higher resolution, still the same patch just looks a lot like prettier. The idea being that this is something that becomes an heirloom, and my partner talks about the the obviously the end goal here is you create your digital your pet your real physical pet, on your digital device. And when they pass, wouldn't it be amazing if the insurance policy said that AR glasses, Vision pro shows up at your door, and there's your pet, and it's ready to live on, it's a simulation of your pet. And that behaves like your pet behaves that looks like they look that knows when they typically get fed, it has all these memories and things. And then imagine your grandkids are playing with that same pet years from now. That's all possible. We've built everything to make that possible. And even I know you're interested in talking a bit about blockchain, we've had this love of love on again, off again, relationship with web three, where I'm a passionate believer in having control of your stuff and decentralization. We went on the web three paths, we released NF TS for very purist reasons, not because of speculation or because we wanted you to become rich from this. But because I wanted you to own something that you never had to worry, you'd lose access to me and people don't play with their Nintendogs anymore. Because Nintendo stopped working on Nintendogs are now 10 years old, or 20 years old. That was what we wanted to stop from happening again. And we've put our web three thing on idle for the moment because of issues in the space. But I do think we'll get back to it. Because I think that's really important. I think the notion that a digital pet could literally live forever, is really compelling. And as a really exciting use case. So anyway, so the short term in the short, yeah, we've reinvented Nintendogs on a mobile phone, and we're just launching that now. And you can take that same pet into AR and VR and onto your video calls, we're going to be adding it to your smartwatch, we've got to work on AR glasses. So we've basically built all the groundwork for your digital sidekick.

Yeah, that's amazing. I think about some of the things that you've said in the attachment that people have to their pets, and that we now blend this world. We can take it wherever we go versus having to figure out how do we care for it when we leave? How we can pass it through generations. Let me pull on a thread that you just just mentioned, which is about owning your own data, right? So there's no physical path, there's now a digital path to digital digital is really about the representation through data, right? And whether we're talking about now the digital representation of my pet or the digital data around my electronic health record, you have some strong views around owning one's data and what that looks like, as a future. Can you talk a little bit about your views on that?

Yeah, if I separate that from the speculation that blockchain has become associated with, I've been fond of saying to anyone who listen, they, you don't buy a couch just to sell a couch, you buy a couch to sit on it and be comfortable. And the nice thing is, you can sell it if you want to. But it's not normally the reason why you buy a sofa. And blockchain to me is the same thing. Two years ago, when I set out to raise funding for this company, I had a VC tell me that I come up with the first non tradable token, which is cool, because this is before Vitalik put out his white paper, and why would anyone ever wants to sell their pet? There's no addressable market for that. And I found that really troubling and they since changed your minds about this, but it was really an important point, which was that is there a market for using Blockchain? In a non speculative way, is there a way of making something permanent and not being able to sell it if you want to. So I'm not talking about soul bound web three, but I'm talking about where the purpose wasn't the fact that you wanted to sell it, but the fact that you always wanted it to be yours. And that I think it's really important. And I think the access to data is really important. Specially right now, at a time when there's so many problems with websites that have been selling our data and why GDPR came about and so forth, you should have control over that you should be able to sell your data if you want to. But that should be your decision to make. And you should be able to profit from that and set the terms of that. Yeah, I do think it's really important. I just think it's a space that has been its own worst enemy over the last few years. So that's why I say I have a troubled relationship with Blockchain. I still believe in it for the right reasons. But I'm worried that most of the enthusiasm isn't for the right

reasons. Yeah, like many things in AI, really, it's been no different, right? The term of AI has been around it's had its quote, unquote, winters, it gets associated with being a thing versus an enabling technology or general purpose technology, right? And then blockchain is sitting in that category right now where it's been laid under

percent. And that's, it should be about purpose, right? Not about

the use case. It's really interesting what you just shared, right? Because you think of blockchain and blockchain is indeed about facilitating this transaction engine of distributed ledger capturing and tracking or this intelligent contract between two organizations at one higher level you're really talking about it says, this is just a digital representation, I'm looking to sell this I'm looking to, quote unquote, have ownership around it, or ownership might not even be the best word, right? There's a relationship between this digital asset and me, and it's more than just for the purpose of flipping it.

Yes, exactly. And the answer isn't to make it soulbound, which I have seen a number of companies doing over the last year to get brands comfortable, don't worry, it's not going to be about speculation, it's soulbound -- That's pointless as well, that's I bought a sofa, I never have the right to sell it, you should have the right to sell it, it's yours. But it shouldn't be the purpose, there needs to be inherent value in the thing. And you should get enough value from having it whether it's just the love of a virtual pet, or whatever it is, that should be enough, right? That should be where the value comes from, not the selling, but the keeping. 

Alright, so the last question of the day. And this is an interesting one, I run into a lot of people who think technology is ultimately good for the world. But they sometimes will take the opinion of all of this technology, all this advancements, all this move to the digital, right, we're losing our humanity with all of this technology, use it in interesting space, right, especially with things like augmented reality and how you talk about it. How do we not lose our humanity in all of this progress,

I think what humanity has is probably something that's constantly evolving, right? When you think about a digital pet, for example, since that's the world I'm in, there are elderly people who are lonely, and can't can't take care of a pet kids in hospitals, people with allergies, people in small houses, and in Japan and Tokyo, for example, who just took whatever reason the physical pet isn't a possibility for you, a digital pet becomes a viable alternative to that, I imagine that when I'm sitting here talking to you, and the future, my digital pets off playing with my kid and the other room, and comes to me to remind me, it's time to feed them. And so they become a holistic part of our world. And so it becomes something that democratizes things, things that we couldn't have access to otherwise, are in profound help for our mental health, for example. And so I don't think it has to be about losing our humanity. I think we have to be careful, obviously, especially when it comes to all the negatives of AI that have been talked about. But I really do think it has so much potential to help to the access to information for people around the world that AI offers a much easier way to do research and things like that. I think it's fascinating. So I think it just means we have to change what we mean or evolve what we mean by humanity.

All right, well, we'll leave it there for today. Susan, thank you so much for being on our podcast, for sharing your vision, your thoughts. It's been wonderful conversation today. 

Thank you.