A New AI Machine That’s Mastering the Human Art of Debate

A new IBM machine that runs on artificial intelligence is making a convincing case that it’s mastering the human art of persuasion.

“Project Debater” can analyze 300 million articles on a given topic and construct a persuasive speech about it. It would take a human—reading twenty-four hours a day—about 2,000 years to get through the same material. Project Debater does it in 10 minutes.

After speaking to IBM researchers and AI specialists, I can confidently tell you that the machine will not replace humans anytime soon. Yes, it has profound implications for how we make decisions to solve the complex challenges we might face. But while Project Debater can synthesize human arguments into a reasonably coherent speech; it does not have feelings one way or the other. It doesn’t have human emotion.

Neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio have discovered that, without emotions, humans would be incapable of making even the smallest decision. Without emotion, “we wouldn’t have music, art, religion, science, technology, economics, politics, justice, or moral philosophy,” says Damasio.

After Garry Kasparov lost a chess match to an IBM machine in 1997, he felt “unsettled.” But today he says that humans and machines can work together to advance the world and to make better decisions. In a TED Talk, Kasparov said, “Machines have calculations. We have understanding. Machines have instructions. We have purpose. Machines have objectivity. We have passion…There’s one thing only a human can do. That’s dream. So let us dream big.”

Kasparov’s observation echoes the comments of a prominent AI specialist who was recently featured on 60 Minutes. His name is Kai-Fu Lee and he’s the author of AI Super Powers. I spoke to Lee directly after the book was published last year.

“AI can handle a growing number of non-personal, non-creative, routine tasks,” Lee told me. But Lee says the skills that make us uniquely human are ones that no machine can replicate. The jobs of the future, says Lee, will require creative, compassionate, and empathetic leaders who know how to create trust, build teams, inspire service, and communicate effectively.

“People don’t want to interact with robots for communication-oriented jobs. They don’t want to listen to robots making speeches, leading the company, giving pep talks, or earning our trust.”

Lee gave me a piece of advice that I’d like to share with all of you. “Let machines be machines and let humans be humans.” Choose to do what humans do best—inspire, collaborate, communicate, and ignite the imagination.

Passion is Everything: My Interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

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“Take your presentations to the next level with Carmine as your coach.” – Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks

I was grateful to receive that endorsement from Howard Schultz for one of my books on leadership and communication. Schultz recently announced that he would step down as CEO of Starbucks. Needless to say, Schultz has reinvented the coffee culture in America by introducing Italian-style cappuccinos and lattes to the U.S market.

When I interviewed Schultz I learned a valuable lesson about inspiration and leadership, a lesson that has had a profound influence on my career, writing and speaking. And that lesson is this:

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a common purpose around a collective passion, anything is possible.”

In my first conversation with Schultz I was astonished that he rarely mentioned the word coffee. I was the first to bring it up.

“We’re not in the coffee business. It is what we sell as a product, but it’s not what we stand for,” he explained.

Starbucks is NOT in the coffee business, which is why it’s successful. You see, Schultz loves coffee, but he’s passionate about the people, the baristas who make the Starbucks experience what it is. Schultz’s vision was much bigger than to make a better cup of coffee. His moonshot was to create an experience; a third place between work and home. He wanted to build a company that treats people with dignity and respect. Those happy employees would, in turn, provide a level of customer service that would be seen as a gold standard in the industry.

Inspiring leaders like Howard Schultz are not afraid to share their passion. Passion is everything. A leader, manager or entrepreneur cannot inspire without it. Dig deep to identify your core value, the area where you want to make a ‘dent in the universe,’ as Steve Jobs once said. And ask yourself a question that Howard Schultz says is the key to success: What business am I really in? 

Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker and communication advisor. Howard Schultz is one of more than 35 business leaders featured in Carmine’s bestselling new book, The Storyteller’s Secret: Why Some Ideas Catch On And Others Don’t. 

Storytelling Rocks at Google

Google organized the world’s information and gave people access to it in a few simple clicks. Today, in the same world it transformed, Google has a challenge. If data is freely available, how does a company stand apart from its competitors?

Meet Avinash Kaushik. His official title is Digital Marketing Evangelist, but internally he’s known as Google’s ‘Chief Storyteller.’ He’s THE most passionate executive I’ve ever met on the topic of storytelling and how it can make massive changes in a company’s business.

“My job is to change the way Googlers tell stories,” Kaushik said during my visit to his Google office in Mountain View, California. Along with a team of 75 people, Kaushik holds “Storytelling Rocks” workshops to spread the gospel of storytelling to 4,000 account leads, sales and marketing professionals who are responsible for billions of dollars in annual revenue.

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“Avinash, when people think of Google, they think of search. They think of data. What role does storytelling play?” I asked.

“Storytelling is a powerful way to get our clients to think differently,” says Kaushik.

Kaushik points out that Google provides an immense amount of data to clients who can use the information to make transformative changes in their business. But a data dump will fail to help customers if they can’t make sense of it. That’s where Kaushik and his storytellers step in. “The size and the scope of the change we drive is so big, that I think it is best done with stories,” says Kaushik.

The Google Storytelling Framework

Kaushik has developed a storytelling framework called: Care-Do-Impact. Like everything at Google, it is carefully measured for its effectiveness. Presenters are even given letter grades on how well they perform each step of the framework.

Step 1: Care. Kaushik recommends that a Google sales or marketing professional spend the first 20% of a presentation explaining the amazing “out-of-sight” that could transform the client’s business. An “insight” is a small piece of information that the client might already know; an “out-of-sight” is knowledge that is exclusive to the company making the presentation, information that can radically change a client’s business.

Step 2: Do. Kaushik suggests that a full 50% of the presentation be spent on helping the client or customer understand what they should do with the information. This step requires account leads to understand the clients’ business in a remarkably deep way. “We’re creating a competitive advantage for Google because we will know more about your business than anyone else who comes to see you,” says Kaushik.

Step 3: Impact. The remaining 20% of the presentation is spent explaining the impact of Google’s ‘out-of-sight’ on the customer’s future success. Kaushik leaves room in the presentation (10% of time) for the speaker to be interrupted with questions.

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According to Kaushik, this framework represents a fundamental shift in presenting data. Where many companies overwhelm customers and prospects with mountains of data, a Google pitch must give equal weight to the data and how it will impact the company’s business.

“There is a massive amount of interest among our sales team for storytelling,” says Kaushik. And the way we’re going to accomplish a shift in culture at Google is to make everyone a storyteller. It’s very exciting. How often in your life do you get a chance to change people’s minds? I tell stories that fundamentally change the way you think about something, and that’s exciting.”

Google has recognized the power of storytelling to propel its business forward in the 21st century.  It’s an important lesson all of us should learn if we hope to stand out in an ultra-competitive global marketplace.

Carmine Gallo is  a popular keynote speaker and bestselling author. His new book is “The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers To Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On And Others Don’t.”