‘You think less of your country than I do’ – Mo Gawdat

Former CBO of Google X, regarding Sri Lanka upon his recent visit to the country

Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts hosted Mo Gawdat, the former Chief Business Officer of Google X and Best-selling author, at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo last week to enlighten a Sri Lankan audience of IT specialists, businessmen, professionals, and corporates on the future of Artificial Intelligence.

As an entrepreneur with a 30-year career in technology, he gave profound insights into where AI will lead society. “The seriousness of AI is that earlier, we used to write coding to solve the problem. With AI, we don’t do that anymore, we tell the machine to look for solutions which prompts them to develop their own intelligence,” he revealed speaking about the pros and cons of deep learning.

Mo also brought to attention how jobs will be changed at a pace that people will be required to be ahead of that inevitability. For example, there will be no low-level code developers in the next five years and only those who are highly specialized in the area and know how to work profoundly with AI will be having work.

Speaking about ChatGPT, he put into perspective, “If you take the smartest person in the room, they would have read a maximum of 2000 books, but AI would be connected to that information immediately. If I need 45 minutes to go through a document, AI needs only a matter of seconds. This kind of seismic change must be taken with a lot of attention.”

Further, bringing attention to the rapid increase in the intelligence of AI, Mo says, “If you took some information and removed the fact that it was done by ChatGPT, you’d think this was done by one of the smarter humans. There are estimates today that ChatGPT 4 has an IQ of 155, and Albert Einstein is 160. We are that close to having ChatGPT 5 to be smarter than Einstein. This is something to reckon with.”

He imparts that no attempt on earth can stop AI, especially because of capitalism. “If Google hasn’t developed AI, they will lose business. A good example of it was when Elon Musk and others sent a letter to the big AI players, asking to halt AI for 6 months and the CEO of Google, Sundar, who is an amazing person, responded by saying he could not do that because he couldn’t guarantee there would be advantage, and even so this would be continued to develop in countries like China nevertheless.”

Panel Discussion on AI and Sri Lanka with Mo Gawdat, CBO Google X and Bestselling author, Ramesh Shamuganathan, Executive Vice President, and Group CIO, John Keells Holdings PLC and Director and CEO, John Keells IT and Harsh Subasinghe, CEO CodeGen Group of Companies, moderated by Gayathri Seneviratne, Founding Secretary, and Secretary for 2022 and 2023, Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka

The panel discussion that followed on AI and Sri Lanka, invited Ramesh Shanmuganathan, Executive Vice President, and Group CIO, John Keells Holdings PLC, and Director and CEO, John Keells IT and Harsh Subasinghe, CEO, CodeGen Group of Companies together with Mo Gawdat, moderated by Gayathri Seneviratne, Founding Secretary, and Secretary for 2022/23, Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka.

In the discussion, Mo advised “We are at the cusp of intelligence we have not seen before, soon AI will be so much more intelligent than humans that by 2037, it will be a billion times smarter than us. In perspective that means how intelligent you are compared to a fly, as in a fly wouldn’t know what we are talking about,” he completes.

He says that with AI, intelligence is commoditized to a point where the top human value is not intelligence and that the key trait would be human nature. “The very instinct of humanity is we didn’t survive as we were the smartest species, but since we were the species that worked together the best,”

Lastly, with his years of research on the meaning of happiness, Mo shares an inspiring perception on the topic, having authored three international best-selling books, Solve for Happy, Scary Smart, and That Li5le Voice in Your Head. “My simple theory is, that happiness is not found in getting what you want, but in loving what you have. A computer game would be so boring if it wasn’t this challenging. The reality of life is the level of acceptance that we don’t write the rules of the game, we just play the game.” More of his thoughts on happiness can be heard in his popular podcast, Slo-mo: A Podcast with Mo Gawdat.

While in the country, he was able to get some exposure to the development of AI in Sri Lanka and was awed by the progressive potential here. This speaks for something as he was chosen to lead Google’s special projects division, Google X, trialing the most far-fetched technological ideas from flying cars to machine learning, thus his understanding of AI is truly undisputed.

He deeply appreciates Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts for inviting him and for the hospitality received such that he wishes the hotel to be available everywhere else in the world, thus he would come back to Sri Lanka for another visit.

“The potential here is mind-blowing. You think less of your country than I do. Life does come with difficulties like everywhere in the world, even in the biggest cities. But if you were to enjoy what life is giving you, here in Sri Lanka, you have beautiful minds, beautiful people, and beautiful nature which I think is much more valuable than what the rest of the world is seeing as important,” Mo graciously commented in relation to his visit to the island.

Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts presented ‘Mindful Solutions with Mo Gawdat’ in association with John Keells IT and powered by CodeGen while supported by Sri Lankan Airlines as the Official Airline Partner, 88.3 E FM as the Radio partner, Wijeya Newspapers as Media partner and Scope Cinemas as Cinema partner.