My guest is Author Byron Reese to talk about his latest book: Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future — and Shape it.

As a Futurist I get to explore new inventions and track the progress of all kinds of technologies. But how did we get so smart to be able to dream all of these things up? Until I interviewed Byron about his new book Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future — and Shape it I hadn’t given this any thought.

It is a fascinating read and looks at what makes the human mind so unique and also explores the three leaps in our history that made us who we are—and will change how you think about our future.

Clearly, we humans are radically different from the other creatures on this planet. But why?

Byron argues that we owe our special status to our ability to imagine the future and recall the past, escaping the perpetual present that all other living creatures are trapped in.

Envisioning human history as the development of a societal superorganism he names Agora, Reese shows us how this escape enabled us to share knowledge on an unprecedented scale, to predict—and eventually master—the future.

Thoughtful, witty, and compulsively readable, Reese unravels our history as an intelligent species in three acts:

Act I: Ancient humans undergo “the awakening,” developing the cognitive ability to mentally time-travel using language

Act II: In 17th century France, probability theory is born—a science for seeing into the future that we used to build the modern world

Act III: Beginning with the invention of the computer chip, humanity creates machines to gaze into the future with even more precision, overcoming the limits of our brains

The book is a fresh new look at the history and destiny of humanity, you will come away from Stories, Dice, and Rocks that Think with a new understanding of what they are—not just another animal, but a creature with a mastery of time itself.

We also discussed:

  • What is a Futurist?
  • Why Byron wrote the book
  • The structure of the book into 3 acts
  • Pascal’s 1654 moment on reasoning & Probability
  • Human brain capacity in 1654 vs now
  • The 21 told stories
  • The power of storytelling
  • Are we being overloaded with stories?
  • What about “fake news” and untrue stories?
  • Act 3: The rocks that think
  • What will the next 50 years look like?
  • Where will AI help us innovate?
  • The half-life of a job
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Actionable advice for predicting your future

More on Byron
Byron’s website
Byron on Twitter
Buy the book

Episode Chapters

1:50 What is a Futurist?
2:29 Why Byron wrote the book
3:22 The structure of the book into 3 acts
5:46 Pascal’s 1654 moment on reasoning & probability
9:16 Human brain capacity in 1654 vs now
10:45 The 21 told stories
12:11 The power of storytelling
14:38 Are we being overloaded with stories?
15:49 What about “fake news” and untrue stories?
16:24 Act 3: The rocks that think
18:17 What will the next 50 years look like?
22:31 Where will AI help us innovate?
23:48 The half-life of a job
27:04 2001: A Space Odyssey
27:49 Quickfire round
29:40 Actionable advice for predicting your future
30:26 More about Byron and the book

Episode Transcript

Voiceover 0:00
Welcome to The Actionable Futurist® Podcast a show all about the near term future with practical and actionable advice from a range of global experts to help you stay ahead of the curve. Every episode answers the question what’s the future along with voices and opinions that need to be heard. Your host is international keynote speaker and The Actionable Futurist® Andrew Grill.

Andrew Grill 0:29
Today’s guest is Byron Reese, a longtime serial entrepreneur who has started half a dozen companies over the last 30 years. He writes about human potential automation and artificial intelligence, providing both historic and futurists context for the advances of new trends and technologies. His first book was a defence of techno optimism called infinite progress. He followed that with a philosophy book about AI and robots called the fourth age. We’re here today to talk about his latest book titled stories, dice and rocks that think how humans learn to see the future and shape it amazing title. It’s about how humans learn to see into the future, and how that radically altered our trajectory as species. Byron is also a CEO of an AI company started, and he’s working on his next book. Welcome, Byron,

Byron Reese 1:15
thank you so much for having me. Now,

Andrew Grill 1:17
it’s such a small world. I said, just before we came on here that I was listening to a podcast you did with Peggy and salt. Hi, Peggy. If you’re listening, we’re going to take a slightly different tax. Because it’s unusual to have two Futurist on the same podcast. It’s only happened twice before on the show. So I wonder what the collective noun for group of Futurist sees

Byron Reese 1:33
that would probably be a bewildering into Futurist or a, I don’t know it would be a speculation of Futurist, that’s what we would be a fascination

Andrew Grill 1:43
of futures, maybe something more forward thinking, you call yourself a Futurist. So do I, how would you define what a Futurist is?

Byron Reese 1:50
What Futurist trying to do is figure out why the future happens the way it does, what are the what causes it to unfold a certain way. And that usually requires you to spend a lot of time in the past. And that’s why I mainly write about the past. Because, you know, that’s how we can kind of figure out why things happen. The way they did

Andrew Grill 2:10
was very true. And I was just musing when I was reading your book that it is a look backwards. It’s slightly ironic for futurists, but you’re right, we have to learn how to think and how things might look and look at precedents and all those sorts of things. I mean, the law is full of precedents. Most law these days is predicated on something that’s happened before. So why did you write it in the first place? It’s a really interesting read.

Byron Reese 2:29
I wrote that book, because I wanted to answer the question of how people and animals were different, because you’re always here, we’re just another animal. And yet, it sure doesn’t seem that way. Like, we seem to have had a extraordinarily different outcome than any other animal. And so I was very curious why that was What’s so special about us. I mean, look, dolphins, I’m sure are smart. What have they done lately? Yeah, I’m expecting them to have the internet but they don’t even have, you know, the postal system. Yeah, they don’t even have a writing. And you know, why is that? Well, that’s what this book was was about,

Andrew Grill 3:06
you made a couple of interesting observations about why we’re different from animals, we accumulate knowledge, we also believe in the future in the past. And you’re right. In act two of the book that’s in three acts, what we’ll get to all of them, you talk about the foreseeable future. So as you say, you’ve got to look backwards to understand what goes forward the books in three acts, why don’t you structure it into three? Are there moments in time where you said, Okay, now we’re moving from act one to act two, and so on.

Byron Reese 3:29
I wrote the book, trying to just figure out that basic question. So you didn’t say, Okay, how are we different? Well, cognitively, we’re different. And then, you know, I had the whole story I tell about Homer erectus, this very successful creature that lived 2 million years and how they weren’t like us. And then, you know, that leads you to, you know, something happened to us probably related to language. You mentioned the future in the past, that took me to these caves and show vai and in France to see this cave art that just kind of came out of nowhere. It’s a whole book could have been about that. But I kind of got to the end of that and said, Yeah, we became a species. I thought about the future and imagine the future, but then we decided we wanted to predict it. And that’s a very different thing. Like I can imagine a future. But that’s a very different thing than predicting it. And that’s what got me into probability. I never really intended for the book to go there. It sounds like chloroform in print to say the middle third of the book is about probability. It’s about how we had to learn to think differently about why things happen the way they do. And that gets you back to being Futurist. I just loved the phrase the foreseeable future, because it is foreseeable, whatever horizon that is just that idea. Animals don’t know there’s a future in the past, nor should they because they don’t really exist. The only thing there is is this moment right here, and the future and pastor, these obstructions and it’s been tested a lot and there’s dissenting opinions on it. And then the third act was just inevitably flowed out of it because we learned probability, which was a way to like predict the future, eventually, we hit a limit to what we could do with pen and paper. And so we decided we needed to build machines that can see the future. And those are the rocks, the thing, those are the computers,

Andrew Grill 5:13
I was fascinated with the trajectory going from act one to act two. And this whole notion of probability, you mentioned a simple coin toss game that a third year student could do easily these days. But take me back to 1654 when Pascal was writing to his friend, and they suddenly had that, as we’d say, in Australia, that eureka moment when they realised that they could reason about how to work this out. Because what intrigued me about your book is that we all think that we’re pretty smart. But it’s actually been a journey where we’ve had to evolve. And now we’ve got technology that helps us rewind back to 1654. That, for me was amazing about the whole notion of probability,

Byron Reese 5:47
a math problem that had been circulating for 100 years that people had been trying to work on, and nobody had solved it. And as you point out, it’s a trivially simple problem. And the quickest way I can sum it up, it’s two people, and they decide to play a game where they’re going to flip a coin five times. And one person gets a point, every time heads come up, and one person gets a point when tails come up, and they’re going to flip five times at some point in the game discourse. Two to one, the heads guy is winning, and to have to stop the game. It’s unclear why like their coin filter or cracking the floor or something, I don’t know. But that’s the setup. It’s like, okay, we’ve stopped the game, the score is two to one. What’s the fair way to split the pot? Think about that, though. Like, even if you instinctively don’t know the answer, perhaps you can add to it. It’s not a hard question. And yet you had all these big brain, people in Europe writing about it coming up with all these different answers that weren’t the right answer. And then Pascal, and Fremont are trading letters back and forth. And what they kind of figured out is, well, if you treat the future is a series of things that could happen. And then you assign chances to how often each one of those happens, then you can predict an event and use that to decide how to split the pot, it’s easy to look back and say, wow, how did they not get that but of course, they just come out of using Roman numerals, which are notoriously difficult to divide with basic operators that we use, like the equal sign at just been invented. So it was still early days, within eight years, you had entire textbooks of probability theory, it was why, like you said, and aha moment that they just got it all of a sudden. And what I had to do was make some logical leaps. If somebody asked me if you flip a coin 1000 times, how many times is it going to come up heads? I would say about 500. But the only reason I would say that is I have been taught that. I’ve never done it. I don’t know anybody who’s done it. But I’ve been told that. But if I had not been told that I would have probably said, Well, you just don’t know, right? Maybe it’s 200 the first time and then exactly 500 The next time, and then 800, the next time that maybe the next time, it’s gonna be 150. That’s what it feels like. But the odds of it not being between 406 100 in that narrow range, the odds of it not being in that range, are one in billions, like it’s not gonna happen. And so all of a sudden, you get this, like dawning that there’s randomness. But there’s also predictability in that. And that’s this, like, whoa, moment that they kind of had to grapple with and wrap their heads around. And then once they did, and then they said, here’s how you think about these things. Then you just see everything else forming, you see life insurance, and annuities, and discounted present value and all these things like that, that just, you know, it was like the time was right.

Andrew Grill 8:34
That’s what fascinates me about the book, because all these things that we think are obvious someone else had to discover. And then it becomes a told story. We’ll talk about that in a minute. But something I was thinking about, as you’re speaking back in 1654, did humans have the same brain capacity as we have today? And it’s just a couple that just had that extra moment where they discovered that it then became a story it then became fact, and then people could basically pull on that because you think about all those things are probability theory, I learned that at university and at school, I now know what to expect that the 50% are heads and tails, because what we know now, because someone’s told us, but do we have the brain capacity back then of today? Or are we smarter? Now, psychologically, physiologically, what’s the difference between the 1600s and the 2020? twos?

Byron Reese 9:16
Fantastic question. I have all these things that are running towards the door to answer, there’s a well documented effect that IQ seem to be rising in the immediate past the last 100 years or so. And there are reasons for that. And I think we could say that’s true. It’s also been speculated that human intelligence peaked about 1000 years ago, and we’ve been going downhill from there. We know our brain size peaked a long time ago, and it’s been going down, but that isn’t necessarily the thing. The way I would answer that question is, you know, you have to think that up until 100 200 years ago, we all were farmers surviving was like That’s was a full time job. And you didn’t have the luxury to go to bed at night thinking about probability and waking up thinking about probability As the economy just couldn’t afford a bunch of Pascal’s and for moths to sit around and ponder that. And so what happened is over time, technology and income rose and harnessed more energy, and you all of a sudden had a group of people we call scientists to brand new word that didn’t exist. And there really weren’t many people like that. Now, there are lots of them. So I

Andrew Grill 10:22
alluded to the fact about told stories and the whole section of the 20 purpose. In fact, 21 If you read the epilogue, have told stories was the most interesting because I hadn’t thought about this way. And I’m not gonna read them all. You say that most of the 100 decisions we make daily are based on stories about the future. And that same story can teach ethics history, useful knowledge and be entertaining. How did you come up with these 21 in the first place?

Byron Reese 10:43
Oh, that was a lot of fun. If you’re going to write a book about stories, you read a lot of stories, like I read so many storybooks. And I mean, I’m talking fairy tales to midst epic stuff, all of these fortune cookies, like every everything I could get my hands on, and I just read lots of stories. And and so every time I would read one, I would think, why would this have survived? I mean, that’s really the question, right? Because the vast majority, very few of my stories are gonna be told in 500 years, right? Somehow Jack in the beanstalk does survive. And you said, Hmm, I wonder why. And so that was it. I mean, that took me years to make that list. And you’re right about the 21st. One in the epilogue, I think you’re the first person to mention it. Because it looks so new. I just

Andrew Grill 11:29
going through some of them. Now, some of the more obvious teaching information. Number three, number five’s enforce social norms promote empathy as number 10 provide entertainment 15. That’s an obvious one. But then we get into them. Some of the more serious ones explain how things got the way they are? Why is this so preserve history. Imagine the future. These seem like fundamental things that we use stories for. But then again, as I’m thinking, the reason that Pascal and others were able to look at the theory of probability is because someone came before us and did that. And you could also argue that the Bible is 2000 year old set of stories that we still go back to as well. I think there are lots of examples around the world of where stories enhance what we’ve done tonight to allow us to not have to do the heavy lifting is that where you see it, the way I

Byron Reese 12:11
set it out as we learn to talk. And so we got this sophisticated language. And we actually got the language to learn how to think not communicate. And the language gave us something known as displacement, where we could talk about the future in the past. And so we started thinking about the very immediate future, like the next minute, hmm, I could do that. Or I could do that. And if I did this, that would happen. And if I did this, this might happen. Those are all little stories you tell yourself in your head. And that’s, I think, what we use stories for all day long, every day, it’s reflexive like to ourselves, we call them maybe scenarios, scenario planning. But even when you’re thinking about, like, what am I going to have for dinner, and then you think about how much work it’s going to be to make this or like, those are the stories and then at some point, just like with language, we started talking, we started telling these stories, and externalising them. And that all came, I think much later and has accumulated over time, I think the coolest thing is how the stories that we tell have changed, as human civilization has changed. If you think about the very oldest stories we have are about the stars, where you would expect them kind of to be fewer young species just kind of waking up, that would be the biggest show in town. And then they, you know, became about urban life. Then they became about strangers, like there were these people called strangers that you didn’t used to have when there were only 120 people in your band. And so how do you deal with strangers and all of that. And so the cool thing is, is that you can see humanity and material stories change, or you can maybe not even maturity, but you can see kind of the human story being told out in the stories that we tell.

Andrew Grill 13:51
I’m wondering if today in 2022, we have too many stories. So we have Twitter, we have Facebook, we have Netflix, we have multiple news channels. I was saying to someone yesterday or running through all the different subscriptions, news services I have. So I’m wondering if the art of storytelling were just being overloaded. Even 50 years ago, you think about the number of radio channels and TV stations you had in your town and I had here in the UK or in Australia, we actually had very few choices and the whole broadcast thing. I think in the UK here for many years, there were two channels, there was the BBC and there was the commercial ITV. And so they had amazing ratings because you either watch one channel the other these days, you are literally overloaded with choice. And so I’m wondering whether the power of storytelling is getting lost, and our daily brains are being fried by too many stories.

Byron Reese 14:35
I don’t know had thought about that. Weird Al Yankovic talked about how hard it was to do his thing now, because there just aren’t the kinds of songs there used to be back in the 80s and 90s. Everybody knew everybody hears every now and then you get one, and then he can jump on it. And you know, have you ever seen that? And that might be the real losses, not that we have to Any stories but that we all have different ones? I can say something to you like Don’t be. Don’t be the boy that cries Wolf. That’s enough like, you know what I’m saying? But there’s a story there right, you know, Oh,

Andrew Grill 15:12
well I think it’s also generational. I keep hearing stories about millennials that are discovering the Beatles saying this is amazing music or even the friends TV show people are now saying, Oh, this is amazing, or it hasn’t travelled so well. So I think we’re now cycling through because you’ve got so many ways to look at past content, you can just browse YouTube and find almost anything, I think we are recycling that. But I want to take just a slightly different tack. And I’m hoping you haven’t thought about this either. In that I’m giving you something to noodle on in the world of fake news and misinformation. How will this affect told stories in the future? So if the story is not true, and it becomes folklore, it becomes believed? How do we continue to trust people with these told stories? If they’re not true?

Byron Reese 15:49
If you go through the list of 21? Most of them don’t require the story to be true. Was there a boy who cried wolf too many times? I don’t know. Maybe. And you know, there probably wasn’t Jack in the beanstalk. If you’re talking about like current events, and politics and all of that, that’s a different arena, every Greek play every Greek tragedy, I can imagine all the stories of the Greek gods, the veracity of story is incidental. I want to

Andrew Grill 16:15
move into extra, you say we’re at the dawn of Act Three, the period we’re in now, what do you think the biggest economic, social and political challenges of Act Three for humans might be

Byron Reese 16:24
three begins in 1954 300 years after Act Two begins, again, is because we could do all these cool things with probability. But you know, there was a limit. So we built machines to do it. And then we got really clever. And instead of just building machines to do it, we also got machines to collect data for us. So the machines could collect information and then process it. Artificial Intelligence is a pretty simple technology. It says you take a lot of data about the past. And you look for patterns, and it uses patterns to predict the future. And that’s what it is, it works because we can muster lots of data and we can process it very intelligently. And, and it gets better, mainly because we have more powerful computers. The reason we wanted to predict the future is we wanted to control it, like I wanted to be able to know what was going to happen, so I could affect it. And that’s still a dream. That’s still the dream. Because we think well, if we built all if got all these computers, and they all gather all this data, and then we processed it all. We predict the future with an enormous amount of competence in the immediate short term, and then less as time passes. And that’s still what we try to do with it. Of course. It’s fraught with possibility, and it’s fraught with danger. And we don’t know how that’s all gonna shake out. So just

Andrew Grill 17:43
to rewind to X Ray 254. I’m so glad that happened. Because I have a career because of it. The transistor digital computer was invented back then I’m a child of the space race, I was alive seeing man land on the moon in 1969. I think it’s actually as we record around the anniversary time of that. And so because they had to go into space, and things have to be small and light, everything was miniaturised. And so the space race actually drove innovation. But I’m just wondering, with all the innovation we’ve had, things are getting faster. We’ll talk about AI a bit more in a minute, what do you think the next 50 years will look like? And what would be the main driver of innovation in the next 50

Byron Reese 18:17
years used to be the only place we could write information down was in our DNA. I mean, we’re talking for billions of years. And then all of a sudden, we got language, our DNA moved, we go, we had our DNA, but then we had more in our head basically. And so instead of having to evolve knowledge, not eat the purple Berry, you can just say, Hey, don’t eat that purple Berry. And that was it. It didn’t date 10 million years. And that could spread. I mean, it’s just like DNA. And then I got really interested in, there was an old essay written a long time ago, called eyepencil, by a guy named Leonard Read. And he pointed out back in the 50s, nobody knows how to make a pencil. Nobody knows how to make a pencil, like there’s no person on the planet who could mine the ore and refine it to the steel and make the federal encrypt it and all like there’s nobody and so then you say, Well, how in the world does a pencil get made? And the short answer is they say, Oh, well, you know, you do a little bit you do a little bit you do a little bit. But but that’s a little bit of a that’s like mechanically how it happens. But how does it really happen? It’s because our DNA is now at a species level. It’s not just in our heads, there’s actually a way to make pencils, and humanity can make pencils. Humanity knows how to and you know, humanity can make an iPhone, no person can make a smartphone, but humanity can. And it has 60 different elements in it and your body only has 30. So it’s probably even harder to make the making a person like and so if you think that way, if you think that’s our planetary DNA, it’s becoming this gigantic repository of this knowledge of ours. And then what you mentioned right at the very beginning and the reason the dolphins don’t have telegraphs is because every generation, our knowledge accumulates, and there’s resets. That’s why every bee that’s why every beaver makes the same damn, they made for 1000s of years, but ours doesn’t. I was born into, you know, a different world that even Leonardo da Vinci was born into. I have so many more advantages over a Leonardo, and it’s going to continue to accumulate. So to answer your question, 50 years from now, I hope that our planetary DNA continues to grow in intelligence data is just knowledge of the world. And for the longest time in human history, when you died, everything you knew died with you. And maybe a couple of things, you told somebody that maybe they forgot them or messed him up, or just decided they didn’t like him, or maybe they died, like humanity’s whole story is learning and forgetting and learning and forgetting and learning forgetting. And I know we don’t think this way, but really 50 years from now, they’ll look at how we made decisions. And it looks like we are just winging it. Like we just go through life on anecdotal evidence. And it’s like, where are we going on vacation, I hear Miami is nice. Let’s go to my like, that’s it. That’s like the amount of the introspection we have like unbid life decisions. And what hopefully happens is when you have these computers, and the sensors are logging everything, they’re saving all everybody’s life experience, so that everything you do in your life is actually going to become the data to make somebody else’s life better. And that’s the real way you make progress. I think as a species, you don’t reinvent the wheel, every generation forget everything, erase it all. You accumulate it, and now we can accumulate it in a far different way.

Andrew Grill 21:47
Well, if I paraphrase what you’re saying, it sounds like we may need to turn things over to the machine. And one of the biggest questions I’m asked as a Futurist so things like you know, will automation reshape the workplace? Will robots take our jobs? Will AI displace human intelligence, you cover AI and machine learning a lot? In the book you do that in the work you’re doing today? Are we destined to a future where we work harder and harder for less? I heard on another podcast, you were talking about the fact that artificial general intelligence will probably never happen, that’s probably a whole other podcast. But talk to me about where automation machine learning AI will start to really help us innovate. So we don’t have to be thinking so much as you say, all this data that’s there already, the machines can make some sense of it and learn about the things that we need to do so we can leapfrog and we can have the high value task surrounding all them a new day of our lives.

Byron Reese 22:31
If you went back in time, 25 years to what would that be 97. You put somebody aside and said, You know what, 25 years, billions of people are going to use this technology. What do you think that’s going to do to jobs, they would have said maybe the travel agents are gonna go out of business and the stockbrokers, people whose buy their own stock, and the shopping malls is gonna go under, because people will just buy stuff online, and the newspapers will start failing, because people get other news online, and on and on and on, and they would have been right about everything, everything. However, nobody would have said, Oh, well, you’re gonna have Google, Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and 10,000. Other things, you’re gonna have Uber and Airbnb and all these things. And that’s the problem. The problem is, we can always it’s easy to see what’s going to get destroyed. That’s the easiest thing in the world, it’s impossible to see what’s going to be created. There’s a reason, you know, the Internet came out. And then three days later, there was not a ride sharing service. Yeah, that took 10 years, most of the innovations of the near future are going to be about how we apply technology, not like do we come up with something new. What technology does is it’s a force multiplier of humans, it increases what you’re able to do. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the half life of a job in the last 250 years in the West, it’s 50 years, I think, every 50 years, we lose half of all the jobs. And yet somehow we maintain basically full employment, and generally rising wages. And you say, Well, how, what what happens is technology is always creating these new jobs, quote, high pay high skilled jobs, and he’s destroying these other jobs that are low paid low skilled jobs. And that makes people nervous. Because what they say is he say, Well, do you really think those people that had these low skilled low wage jobs are gonna be able to do these new high tech jobs? And it’s like, well, no, not how it works. What happens is, everybody just shifts up a little notch. It’s like the new high tech job comes up and somebody slides into that, and then somebody backfills them all the way down the line. That’s the economic story. The last few 100 years is technology’s always in there, destroying stuff at the quote unquote, bottom creating stuff, the top and we all just slide up that. And I don’t have a sense that we’re losing jobs any faster or slower than about half of every 50 years. I’ll ask you in the last five years, can you think of any job Technology has eliminated many jobs

Andrew Grill 25:02
in the five years. No. And I’m with you that I believe that there’s evolution. Because years ago, when we want to lift something heavy, and we weren’t able to do it, we build a machine that could do it. So you might say, well, the person who lifted things he or she’s out of a job, and no, they were then in charge of the lifting thing and the pulley system or whatever, I suppose you could argue that the typing pool is no longer there, because we have word process that we do it ourselves. But that’s probably 20 or 30 years away. And I don’t know anyone that would want to be sitting in a typing pool today typing out letters.

Byron Reese 25:29
So if there really aren’t any material ones in the last five years, and this idea that like, oh my gosh, you know, we’re in for this massive displacement. I think there’s a lot of people for various reasons that want to scare people. And I think that’s a really easy way to do it. Because it speaks to people’s livelihoods and their abilities to provide for themselves and their families and their relevancy and their ability to contribute to society. And you run headlines that say, you know, you’re gonna be useless and unable to take care of yourself and provide for other people to get a read. And then if you do that 100 times a day, then people start worrying about and then if you start making movies about it, and not because you’re trying to sell something, but movies need conflict, then all of a sudden, people start seeing it, they go, oh, yeah, that’s, that’s what’s gonna happen. We then start doing something called reasoning from fictional evidence, we see all these things in the movies and all that which so that could happen. I mean, look, I like to see Will Smith, fight the robot as much as the next person. It’s not a documentary about the future, I think.

Andrew Grill 26:30
I think if you look back to space odyssey 2001, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke that was very forward thinking. And in fact, just with my movie geek hat on the special effects on the way they filmed that were literally out of this world back in 1968 1969. And if you’re a movie buff listening out there, there’s a whole book, it’s about 600 pages long, that shows how that movie nearly didn’t get made. And in fact, Arthur C. Clarke is one of my favourite futurists. And he seemed to get it right. He predicted satellites and all things, but he knew something that we didn’t know, did he

Byron Reese 26:58
have an avatar from the future visiting him and telling him those sorts of things, perhaps, I don’t know, I really don’t know. I will say they’ll never be another movie like 2001, there cannot possibly ever be a movie that far ahead. The state of the art at the time was, I mean, we already had things that are virtually realistic. So you’re never gonna get something that’s like that far ahead of the state of the art. Like, it’s already almost completely believable. That was a watershed moment,

Andrew Grill 27:23
I was reading something today where Apple and Samsung were in a dispute about who created the tablet first. And they went back and said it was in 2001. The movie producers actually took some of the smarts out of it, because they thought it was not realistic enough. So actually, the tablet’s been around for a long time. So we’re almost out of time on the favourite part of my show where we run our guests real quick fire round, we’ve learned a lot about you, we can read the book, but I want to learn just that little bit more. So I’m gonna ask you some quick fire questions. So one sentence answers are the best ones iPhone or Android, iPhone window or aisle window online or in the room online, your biggest hope for 2022 and beyond.

Byron Reese 27:59
I hope that kind of the malaise and worry about the future that we seem to be getting the one thing that will really get us because if people give up on the future, then that becomes self fulfilling. So I hope that people have a reason for optimism, what’s the app you use most on your phone, one of those apps that records your polls, because I turned it on, and I put it on my finger, and then I just breathe deeply. And that’s how I think and reflect. And I just quietly do that. And I don’t know, there’s something rhythmic about it. But I just saw I have 28,000 readings on my phone from

Andrew Grill 28:33
what’s the one thing you won’t be doing, again, post pandemic

Byron Reese 28:37
going to doctor’s appointment in person? It’s like, How in the world did we not get like, I don’t have to spend half a day and go like check into some office around copying people.

Andrew Grill 28:48
I love asking this question to authors. What are you reading at the moment?

Byron Reese 28:51
I love reading research reports. You know, like these 14 Page densely written heavily footnoted thing, because what I learned is everything is somebody’s passion. And and so you find that 14 page thing about there’s one animal that has a gear for a body part, that’s it just one. And like you find the man or woman that writes about that and you just feel it coming through. So I love to read academic research, of all of all things because I just love the passion of

Andrew Grill 29:22
it all. And final quickfire question, how do you want to be remembered?

Byron Reese 29:25
There’s a movie called 47 Ronin and has a line of it soon will be dead and all that will be left of us are the pleasant memories our children feel in the hearing. That’s what I want to be remembered as a good father.

Andrew Grill 29:37
This is the actionable futures podcast so can we give our listeners three actionable things they should do today when it comes to better predicting their own future?

Byron Reese 29:45
You know how I was talking earlier about how like technology destroys what you call minutiae at the bottom, these kind of repetitive and it creates opportunities at the top. You can think of that as a macro thing, but find applying that to your own life is really useful. Ask yourself what techniques Majid Can I employ to destroy things I’m doing right now that are wasting my time? And what technology can I use to open up opportunities? And if you do that you will never be obsolete. You’ll always be saying, Okay, I’m gonna destroy this part of my life and use that time to do this part. I find that to be very useful to think about that personally.

Andrew Grill 30:22
Bryce, how can people discover more about you and importantly, purchase the book?

Byron Reese 30:26
I am the easiest person in the world to find on on Twitter everywhere my email address byronreese at gmail, I am so easy to find.

Andrew Grill 30:36
fascinating discussion today. I really enjoyed the book. And thank you so much for your time today.

Byron Reese 30:39
I had a great time.

Voiceover 30:40
Thank you for listening to The Actionable® Futurist Podcast. You can find all of our previous shows at, aand if you like what you’ve heard on the show, please consider subscribing via your favourite podcast app, so you never miss an episode. You can find out more about Andrew and how he helps corporates navigate a disruptive digital world with keynote speeches and C suite workshops delivered in person or virtually at Until next time, this has been The Actionable Futurist® Podcast.