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FFFT Podcast Ep. 1: Karl Rosaen – Reinventing Yourself, Survival as a Tech Entrepreneur, and How to Compete with AI

Episode one of the Food for Free Thought Podcast finds me and Karl Rosaen musing on the deeper questions in life—including how to compete with AI.

The thinking robot: machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)


I’ve been fantasizing about this for a long time, and it’s finally here. Someday I’ll be Joe Rogan or Sam Harris, but I hope you love these humble beginnings. From a listener standpoint, it should be interesting to pay attention to the evolution of this project.

Here are a few of my lessons thus far:

  • Reviewing highlights sloppy thinking and glossed-over arguments
  • There’s a fine line between conversational and laissez faire
  • Just get started (on projects)—and work out the bugs as you go

I’m committing to at least 6 episodes over the course of the 1-2 months. And believe me: I have some fantastic conversations lined up with amazing people. This is going to fun.

Constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement are welcome, and they can be left on iTunes.

Let the games begin!

Karl Rosaen has been pushing the edge of software engineering since his early work on Google’s Android phones, and his recent leap of faith into the world of machine learning and artificial intelligence is no exception.

Karl is a senior research engineer at the U of M and Ford Center for Autonomous Vehicle at the University of Michigan. Karl took a learning sabbatical in the summer of 2016 to focus on machine learning and before that he was head of product and engineering at Food52.com.

Karl and his brother Alex host the Brosaen Detroit Pistons Podcast, where they regularly geek out on all things Detroit Pistons. In addition to the podcast, which you can find on iTunes, you can find Karl’s resources for machine learning and his research journal at KarlRosaen.com, or find him on Twitter and Github at krosaen.

During our hour long talk, Karl and I talked about his work on the then top-secret Android platform for Google phones, entrepreneurship, and how to compete against artificial intelligence (AI).

You can listen to the episode below, or at the links provided. Cheers!

Subscribe on iTunes | Stream the episode | Download as MP3 (right-click and choose “Save As”)

Topics covered in this conversation

  • How to get started as a programmer
  • How to choose between exciting projects
  • The secure path of blowing it all up and starting over
  • Machine learning—what is it, and what does it mean for the future of software?
  • Managing the evolution of your startup idea, and figuring out what works
  • Ideas about changing the future of food
  • The benefit and drawbacks of testing your startup up idea in local markets
  • Self-directed education
  • The importance of staying interested and following your curiosity
  • Applying product thinking to research
  • The dangers of an AI intelligence explosion and SkyNet
  • The deep technical and ethical questions that AI raises
  • What AI says about the nature of consciousness
  • What we can learn from toddlers about AI—object detection, differentiation and self-awareness
  • What happened when an robot taught itself to beat “Go!” every time
  • Insulating our minds from catastrophic thinking
  • The greatest threat: creatively competing with AI in the world of the future
  • How engineers can adapt in a world where AI writes programs
  • Why free thought and free expression are our ultimate weapons in staying relevant

People, resources and links from this episode