Racing Towards The Future Of Human-AI Interaction With Dave Ho
The role of artificial intelligence, not only in businesses but in our day-to-day lives, has increased exponentially in recent times. Humans now talk to chatbots, see virtual influencers and use AI and VR systems at work and in play. In this episode, Chad Burmeister sits down for a conversation with Dave Ho about the increasing role of AI in today’s world. Dave is the founder and CTO of York and Chapel. Dave shares his experiences with AI projects his company has handled and talks about increasing human-AI interaction online. He also shares insights on the current state of the industry. Listen in and learn more about the continued progress of AI systems.
Listen to the podcast here:
Racing Towards The Future Of Human-AI Interaction With Dave Ho
I'm talking with Dave Ho, who's the Founder and CTO of York & Chapel. York & Chapel has six locations around the globe, including in Vancouver, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Headquarters is in Shelton, Connecticut. We're talking with Dave, who has years of experience in helping companies deploy different technologies, including artificial intelligence. We're going to dig into some of that, understand where he's seeing AI move, and what's happening in the world.
Dave, welcome to the show. Thanks for being here.
Thank you, Chad. Thank you for having me.
This is going to be fun. Congrats to Jill Perkins on becoming the CEO there. As the founder of my company, I'm always looking for how we continue to grow and scale to the next level. That must be pretty exciting to have such an amazing CEO who's joined your organization as well.
She’s someone that I've known for many years. She used to be a client of ours when she was the CEO of another agency that employed our services. When we got a chance to bring her on board, we jumped out and it's been a great ride ever since.
Before we get into the use of AI, I like to help our audience understand who you are and how you got to be the founder and the CTO of your company now. When you were younger, did you grow up in the Northeast? What were some of your passions as a youngster?
I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Vancouver, Canada, fairly young. I grew up there and moved to the US to go to college. I did a Degree in Design at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. It's been a couple of years there and ended up being five years in SoCal. I got a chance to do graduate school at Yale. I currently have my Master's Degree in Graphic Design from Yale. When I was there, it was an incredible time. That was when the internet started to blossom as a medium for communications. In those early days, universities were working in conjunction with the industry to develop everything from email systems to servers and browsers.
There will be more human-computer interaction that will really drive the real growth of AI.
When I was doing my graduate degree at Yale, I was fortunate enough to be the first graduate to develop their thesis using a webpage. That's my minor claim to fame. While I was there, Philip Hue, a former Creative Director at Apple and was the Creative Director at Netscape at that time. He brought to the school Netscape 2.0 to show to the students. We got a chance to glimpse what the future of the internet was all about. I was hooked from that day. We were able to deploy and I was able to grow up in the internet era as soon as I started my career.
That's an interesting topic. I had someone on the show. We discussed his belief that AI will be ten times more powerful than the internet. What are your thoughts on the power of AI? Do you think that will become a true statement at some point? Is there ten times more efficiency, productivity and disruption coming ahead with the rollout of AI?
I do believe that would be true. At some point in the future, it will explode and be everywhere at once. It's also much more subtle as opposed to having your computer being connected online and able to see what pages and stuff like that. I say a monumental change in the way people work. I think AI will work in conjunction with a lot of technologies, sometimes in the background or foreground being very visible, but it would not be in the same game-changing way. It will certainly change a lot of how we interact online and who we interact with as more directions are now between humans and computers. That's where AI will come into effect. Certainly, a lot of it is on the backend doing analytics, being involved with data and data mining and things like that. It'll be more human-computer interaction that drives the real growth of AI.
Do you have any examples of client engagements? I understand if you can't share the name of the company. What did it do for them? Even if it's industry and what was their business challenge? How did you leverage technology and specifically AI in that deployment?
AI infiltrates every aspect of what we do. In marketing technology, it's becoming much more ubiquitous than some people might think.
We deploy AI for a lot of different kinds of clients across a wide variety of industries. At the most basic level, we deploy a lot of AI chatbots in sales, operations, websites, and eCommerce. I think that's an interesting and simple implementation for a lot of clients. It makes sense for them. It allows them to extend their sales operations without having humans and hire more people to do that work. We've pushed the envelope in how we use some of our AI implementations. Years ago, we worked with a very large international company, which was in partnership with the pharmaceutical, to develop AI-based therapeutics to treat autism. The company we were partnering with was a hardware manufacturer and one part of their business was putting out a series of head-up display units.
You can be in a virtual reality environment. Using virtual reality, we created a system to help people with autism practice social skills. One of the greatest challenges that they have is interacting in a social event. Things like making eye contact and staying on topic in a conversation, those kinds of social skills that we take for granted. By using VR, they were able to put these patients into different environments to help them practice these skills. At the same time, we're able to do very interesting things like track their eye movement or their heart rate to see if they're being stressed. A doctor or a clinician can modify the environment to increase or decrease the amount of stress that they're under to challenge them into interacting with more difficult situations like being at an airport.
Being in an airport is stressful enough for me, much less for somebody with autism. By using VR, we're able to create these holistic environments for them to practice. What we implemented with AI is that we allowed the patient to interact with an AI avatar that we built in a conversational AI technology so they can have conversations back and forth on different topics. Sometimes, it's things at school, what did you do over the summer or homework. We created a voice AI platform to interact and create social interaction between the patient and the avatar.
I have a business colleague whose daughter has severe autism. I'm not sure if she's heard of this technology. They try every pathway that they can to help resolve these kinds of situations. That's a compelling use case of deploying conversational AI with avatars. I don't think a lot of people know that these things are going on. That's cool.
Since we started this project, avatar technology has been advancing so quickly. They've included AI-based avatar visualization, so the level of realism and new avatars that’s the unreal engine is putting out like a gaming company. It produces the unreal engine gaming software that a lot of developers use. They're putting up these ultra-realistic humans that you would have a hard time differentiating between an actual person and these AI-generated avatars. It's amazing.
When I was a kid and I went to Walt Disney World, there was a Michael Jackson 3D Show. I remember wearing the red and blue glasses. I was so amazed, and then I saw the Michael Jackson Show in Vegas where he's 3D dancing on the stage and it's as if he's there. To enable people to interact with these avatars, I can imagine the possibilities around the sales motion and interaction with customer success on a website to take even what you've been doing to the next level. There could be a whole lot of different applications for this kind of technology.
One of the areas that's advancing quite quickly and has gained a lot of momentum is using these AI avatars as influencers online on TikTok and Instagram. Some of them are ultra-realistic and they look it completely like any other influencer on TikTok doing dances, going out shopping, and eating food. Others are more cartoon or anime-based. They're obviously computer-generated but they have a lot of personalities. They're funny. They still do dances online, memes, and things like that. A number of social media companies have been developed to market these influencers for brands. These AI completely generated influencers. They are able to say shop and carry a Louis Vuitton bag. People are following them, commenting on them, and interacting with them as if they were real-life human beings. That blows my mind. A lot of kids don't care. Maybe it doesn't matter to them the difference between an actual person and an AI-generated avatar online.
It's interesting because some of our customers leveraged the AI technology that we've deployed to create virtual assistance to do outreach on behalf of the CEO, VP, or whomever. Similarly, the image is an AI-generated image. People are interacting with these virtual administrators saying, "I'd be happy to have your CEO on our podcast or our TV show." It's an interesting area. To your point, is that okay that people vote with their voices and their clicks? They are saying, “It is okay to interact with that AI-powered individual, ”which is a pretty interesting time that we're living in.
I think the younger generation is certainly much more comfortable doing that. They have no qualms about it. It's almost like a real-life touring test. Can you discern the artificial intelligence on the other side of the screen interacting with you? Can you discern the difference between machine-based and human-based with modern chatbot technology, which is extremely proficient at carrying on a conversation? Marry that with these very advanced visual AI avatars that act, look, and sound completely human. You have this singularity where you cross the bridge between what is artificial intelligence and what is indiscernible from artificial intelligence.
One of the technologies that we've been using for a while is something as simple as the Google cloud text-to-speech machine voice narration. We've been using it for many years and it continues to improve the narration from the Google text-to-speech machine voice. Now, it allows us to not use human and voiceover actors in some instances. We can use direct computer-generated audio that is nearly perfect. It's not perfect in every instance but I feel like it'll be in a few years to get those final little quirks worked out and it will be nearly indiscernible.
It reminds me of the email tech. We have a partner that's out of Israel that's written code. I'm sure it's based on Israeli intelligence. A lot of the code is. It can read paragraphs and sentences, not just a question. What color is the sky? The answer is obviously blue. It can read the entire paragraph of an email and come back with an answer. Over the time, I had a team review all the emails before they went to train the AI. The technical team came back and said, "Chad, you're at 98.9% where the human doesn't actually change anything in the email body."
AI is one of the key aspects of how companies try to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
That's where you go, "We're only 1% away from perfection." That's pretty amazing. The same thing can be said of physical interactions with the AI to your point. You layer voice on top of that 98.9%. Voice inflections and those kinds of things, we're close. We're in the A-plus level of being able to deploy this kind of technology, and obviously, you guys are doing it. Where do you think it goes from here? As companies and your customers continue to deploy this, what changes over the following years?
I see the amount increasing. Sometimes, we follow the technology. If there are large leaps in advances in certain areas, that's where we go. As a company that is resting our reputation on providing cutting edge technology and the most innovative solutions for our clients, we tend to try to keep abreast of some blade's developments. Some of it is not as sexy as other areas but can be very powerful. Every designer goes to a tool for image manipulation but very quietly, Adobe has added AI to Photoshop. We're able to take things like, let's say we're doing an ad or doing some promotion and we have a picture the CEO. We want the CEO to smile in the picture.
We can make them smile. We can make him look angry. We can essentially give him any expression that we want using the neural filters in Photoshops AI toolkit. We can generate a depth of field in photographs that were shot flat. We can even turn the head of a person when it was only shot straight on. It becomes indistinguishable from an actual photograph that you took in real-time. Little things like that come into play that may not be big earth-shattering moments. As I said, AI infiltrates every aspect of what we do. Certainly, in marketing technology, that's becoming something more ubiquitous than what some people might think.
If I go to your website and I see Chubb, T-Mobile, BIC, and Intuit, are these partners or are these customers that you're working with?
These are our customers. We've been fortunate, over the years, to work with some great brands, helping them bring technology and marketing together. That's our strength and our focus. Some of these companies are technology-based and technology-focused. They want to utilize AI and use marketing technologies to not only make their brand go further but also trying to push the envelopes in what they can do. I think that AI is one of the key aspects of how they can try to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
What a fascinating conversation. Thank you for joining. We've been talking with an amazing individual, Dave Ho, who's the co-founder and CTO of York & Chapel. It reminds me of going to Las Vegas and they've shortened some of the names of the companies to be hip and cool. I think Y&C is exactly that with what you're doing. Y&C, YorkAndChapel.com. If you're looking to get into deploying advanced AI with some of the things that you've heard, I highly encourage you to check out Y&C. What an amazing company. Congrats on your success, Dave. I’m glad to have you on the show. Thanks for investing some of your time with us.
Thankyou so much, Chad.
Chad Burmeister, AI for Sales Expert. Another AI for Sales Show that doesn't disappoint. It’s amazing to have Dave. Imagine where the world is headed with some of this cool technology. It’s awesome to have you. Have a great day.