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38. Mark on Gaming for Better Remote Social Ties and AI's Impact on Work

· AI,podcast


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Podcast with Mark Hlady Part 3




Andrew Liew Weida and Mark discuss the value of playing games to form better social ties, especially in remote work environments. They introduce Triple Play, a social game platform that helps people connect with each other through recommended conversations and people to talk to. Triple Play uses artificial intelligence to help people meet the most interesting people and talk about the most interesting content, while also respecting everyone's privacy. They also discuss the impact of AI development on the future of work and suggest that virtual social game settings could be a better substitute for Zoom to enhance social ties.

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew Weida: Yeah I really liked the value proposition that you described. I'm myself as a gamer as well, and actually sometimes I play games, not because I like to play games, but it just take my mind off to do, to let my subconscious do the thinking. And when I work in some of the largest Fortune 500 companies, some of the leaders, they don't get the fact that there needs to be what I call the organizational slack where people are not like a McDonald worker. No offense to them. I They work very hard. They're professional. But what I'm trying to say is that knowledge worker can't co de eight hours straight. They need to think about the problem, go to stack overflow or just get away, do something.

[00:00:39] Andrew Liew Weida: Maybe playing games just to get their mind off the problem and let their subconscious work on that. What are your thoughts on that?

[00:00:46] Mark: I think that's not what we're focused on, but that's also right. And so a lot of good thinking about taking your mind off the problem to actually solve the problem. That's backed up from every direction from biology, neuroscience, empirically. I think there's consensus. and the way that you take your mind off it could be personal preference. For some people it's playing games, as you said. For others it's going for a walk. For others, maybe it's working out for others, it's sleeping on it. So definitely there is value in that.

[00:01:16] Mark: Build games to help people take their mind off of work, might be an added benefit. But the benefit we're really focused on is helping people form better social ties with each other.

[00:01:26] Mark: Kind of social ties that you might naturally form in the office, but do the factors that we talked about before where a lot of folks don't want to commute to an office or maybe have a globally distributed team that you want to have the ability to collaborate. You need to form these social ties over distance. And this is a really interesting point on why do we talk so much about games. So there's quite a bit of literature on the power of play to bring people together. So as the audience is interested, they can research that. But I'll try to to talk about it from actually just analogy here. So if you imagine these strongest relationships or even the fundamental relationships that anybody develops in their life, it's actually quite often through games, through play.

[00:02:04] Mark: So when you're a child or if you have children, when you're watching your children form relationships with other children, they're doing it through play. It's what we know as you're a teen or as you watch your teens grow up, you form relationships through sports. We have a common goal with your team. You have a common challenge and you find success together.

[00:02:20] Mark: And then later in life, maybe you join Rex Sports or some people get into more hardcore video games, and then later in life maybe you join a bridge league. And so games have always been how we build relationships with each other, and especially how we build relationships with people that maybe we don't know and want to get to know better.

[00:02:35] Mark: And. when the world moved remote, we didn't have casual games for people to play socially with each other. We had games like, I might be dating myself, but Angry Birds that you could play one-on-one or maybe with two people. There were games that you could play if you were a quote unquote gamer, like on Xbox or PlayStation.

[00:02:53] Mark: But that's not most people, certainly not most adults. And then there was a few hit games that you could play with your friends, but only up to six people, like among us or Jackbox. And these of course, became popular during the pandemic, but what was missing was a game that you could play online. An activity that you could do online would say eight to 200 people where we could all get together and then play that together.

[00:03:15] Mark: And through that game form better relationships with each other. So that's what we've built. So it's not video games for gamers, but it's a kind of game that anybody would play at a party.

[00:03:26] Andrew Liew Weida: So it is those kind of like simple games where it doesn't have to be a very heavy user or advanced user. . Something that like good old days, I don't know, may, maybe during my time I might be quite old, is I used to play Tetris super Mario

[00:03:38] Mark: I would say it's even, I would say it's games like sellers of Katan. Not specifically, not those can specifically, but games like that. Are both easy to pick up for the first time, but also very replayable for people that want to play it every month for two years. So they're designed intentionally to be both easy to pick up and casual, but also have some depth so they're enjoyable to play time over time and they're all turn-based games. So it's not about having the fastest reflexes because that takes a while to train and it isn't very inclusive for a lot of people in the workforce.

[00:04:11] Andrew Liew Weida: I see. Cool. I think that this is an interesting idea. I can imagine that human resource business partner some of my friends who are they could say, Hey I can go to this game and build that relationship and figure out why this potential employee has an intention to leave the company.

[00:04:28] Andrew Liew Weida: Or why is she, he like not feeling well and true games. It create a safe virtual environment for them to talk about it. What are your thoughts on it, mark?

[00:04:38] Mark: Yeah, I think that could. , but I think the power of games actually becomes important earlier on, and it goes back to this finance for good idea of prevention rather than remediation.

[00:04:48] Mark: So by the time you have a problem, you have a problem. And at Finance for Good, what we wanted to do was invest in prevention to help people live healthier life. so they don't end up in the hospital. And so with games, we wanna do the same thing. We wanna help people have stronger social ties so that when something bad does happen, they have somebody they can call when they have a question, they can email somebody across the world and get a response within an hour.

[00:05:12] Mark: The idea is that through stronger social ties, people are fundamentally more motivated and more excited about the work that they're doing. And so they're less likely to end up in a situation where they're contemplating quitting.

[00:05:22] Andrew Liew Weida: I see. I'm just curious, what about some of the employees or talents. they don't like games or they don't preferred game. Maybe they have a lot of kids or have a family involved caregiving commitment. How does Triple play look into solving this problem

[00:05:36] Mark: yeah, so all games are social games, so you can choose how much to engage, just like if you were at a party where people are playing checkers or pool, you could observe and socialize and interpret play. What we did was they actually build a social fabric so you could move around the space very easily.

[00:05:51] Mark: Just recommended conversations, recommended people to talk to. So it's not about winning the games or just playing the games. The games are the shared interest that brings us together, but it's very easy to chat with who you want for as long as you want. And you get to know people better that way. See, for somebody who's not into winning the game, you can actually break off and have a one-on-one chat with somebody that maybe needs to catch up with on a work topic.

[00:06:13] Andrew Liew Weida: Let me bring back to another interesting topic about where do you see artificial intelligence in the process of digital transformation? Where do you see artificial intelligence being embedded into social games to enable preventive care?

[00:06:26] Mark: Yeah, that's a interesting question. So with artificial intelligence to start from the beginning, it touches every part of the business quite literally. And so then, yeah, diving in here, where does it help? What we're doing is helping people connect with each other. And there's a certain set of norms in the office that I talked about that everyone just knows, whereas online people don't know the norms yet.

[00:06:46] Mark: And so what we're able to do, Is use artificial intelligence to help people meet the most interesting people at a larger event, maybe somebody they haven't talked to before, or to talk about the most interesting content through subtle prompts that bring up interesting points of possible connection.

[00:07:02] Mark: And at the same time, we're extremely thoughtful and always putting privacy first. So when you do anything with artificial intelligence, you have to be very thoughtful with the data you're collecting on anybody and make sure that you are respecting privacy. And so that's our North Star is never listening to people's conversations, never being able to track anything there.

[00:07:21] Mark: But yet at the same time have generalized data points that help us help people connect with the individuals that they want to and talk about points that would be interesting.

[00:07:31] Andrew Liew Weida: Okay. Is it also the fact that if a user of triple play in the company they wanna discover interesting people or play build relationships, certain people it's more they can toggle and give selective information and therefore get whatever information that the artificial intelligence generate, whatever.

[00:07:54] Mark: I won't want to the details of how this could work, but I think what you could imagine is. on a news site, the news site might not know too much about you, but yet it still knows what's most interesting maybe based on just the region that you're in, the time of day it is, stuff like that. And there's still quite a bit you can do with artificial intelligence while deeply respecting everyone's privacy and not collecting personal information.

[00:08:18] Andrew Liew Weida: Okay. So let me go to the next interesting question. What do you think is the impact of artificial intelligence development on the future of work? Where does like triple play comes into enhancing the future of work too,

[00:08:29] Mark: yeah. I think artificial intelligence will touch most businesses I would say there's a few big areas. Anything around optimization is ripe for ai. And as we think about ai, I think it's helpful for your listeners to, to make sure that they're just desegregating the different types of ai.

[00:08:45] Mark: So generally visual recognition, having a camera be able to identify objects and then do work. Some manufacturer would've otherwise had to do is a huge area. So that'll impact all of manufacturing, all of mining, all of agriculture, which are just such huge fundamental industries. And then anything to do with marketing or risk analysis, fraud detection, all of that is arguably optimization.

[00:09:08] Mark: Which would also be deeply impacted by ai. So those are two huge categories of industries where AI will have a direct impact. And then AI also has impacts across every function. So I wouldn't go into each of those functions, but I'm just coming back to the triple play. AI is interesting when you think about triple play, but really the heart of triple play isn't people connecting with a machine.

[00:09:28] Mark: It's. Through the heart of it is people connecting with other people, and so that's what I would emphasize. Is that in the office, that connection is just natural. Whereas online, and I think people have seen this maybe in Zoom meetings, it's very unnatural when you don't have a shared activity or a shared game.

[00:09:44] Mark: And so on Zoom, people have tried to do these socialists to keep culture alive, and maybe you spray gut rooms, but then maybe you're there for a certain amount of time. Or maybe it's just structure around questions that feel too formal. and you're not able to connect with people. People have Zoom fatigue, but Zoom fatigue is not from being on a screen.

[00:10:02] Mark: People will often be on Zoom, have zoom fatigue, and then leave to watch Netflix or go on TikTok. So we know a Zoom fatigue is not from a screen, but think zoom fatigue is from being in an environment that doesn't feel natural. So with Triple Play, what we're really emphasizing is somewhere that just feels natural, feels casual, feels fun, where you can connect with each other because that's what's really gonna be missing.

[00:10:25] Mark: We don't talk too much about AI here, but I think that AI has a massive impact across businesses, but on triple play, it's not principally about people interacting with machines, principally about people interacting with each other.

[00:10:37] Andrew Liew Weida: Yeah. You mentioned about let's zoom fatigue driven primarily not because of the screen, but because it's not natural and therefore triple play is here to enable social gaming to substitute or even enhance social ties. Interesting question along that line is yes, people are feeling zoom fatigue, but do you think that maybe it's just a period of adjustment as if COVID 19 have new variants coming on and on and people just over time get to rewire their brain to get used to sticking to a screen. And that could be a social norm. That's my first question. Second question regards to triple play. Do you think maybe people doing virtual meeting, like , social game setting could be a better substitute for that?

[00:11:21] Mark: Yeah, I don't think it's transitionary. Zoom really is an awkward experience when you're on there for social interactions. If you've imagined doing a physical social the same way that social's done on Zoom, that would be like showing up to a boardroom or even more awkward, maybe showing up to somebody's house.

[00:11:38] Mark: But as soon as you get there being told that you can't talk and and there's nothing to do, and so then one person maybe stands up on the table and starts to give speech tell the jokes and it just doesn't feel social at all. You're there watching, not sure who's looking at you, and then maybe you turn your camera off and you on mute and and you just of check out from that social experience.

[00:11:57] Mark: So Zoom really just isn't built for socials and that's why it's been awkward. It's not at all to do with screens because even before the pandemic, people would get in their car and drive to an office and probably look at a screen for their workday and then drive home. And so people were fine with looking at screens. And even when you get home, you look at the activities people do off and on screens at home as well. But it was never an issue of the screens. Principally it was an issue of Zoom just not allowing people to feel natural or feel social. And that's because Zoom took away everybody's autonomy. You're typically forced into different groups.

[00:12:30] Mark: It was overly structured and also didn't give you built-in activities. So there, there was things that you could do you could share links with each other, but all those started to break down at about six people. And so to socialize in a larger group was completely impossible. And so that's the pain that we're solving.