? FIRST – THE PODCAST Have you seen any of the Matrix movies? (If not, you should!) These movies depict a scary future, where artificial intelligence (AI) has taken over the world and humanity.  Perhaps partly fuelled by this movie, many people are very concerned about our future with AI. Well, after listening to this week’s podcast, I promise you will be more optimistic!

For this podcast episode, I interviewed one of my favourite past colleagues from the Rotman School at the University of Toronto, Professor Avi Goldfarb.  Avi is an economist, a marketing professor, and co-author (with professors Ajay Agrawal and Joshua Gans) of the international bestselling book Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence. Avi is also Chief Data Scientist at the Creative Destruction Lab, Senior Editor at Marketing Science, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Clearly knows his stuff.  And the day that I met Avi in his office for this interview, he had just returned from Florida, where he had given a speech to the folks at NASA!  SO cool!

In this podcast episode we learn:

  • a brief history of AI (and Toronto’s place in that history);
  • topline definitions of AI, machine learning, deep learning, etc 
  • various AI applicationsparticularly those focused on communications; and 
  • several reasons why we should be optimistic about our future with AI

This last point – the reasons we should be optimistic about our future with AI – is what really stands out for me in this interview. Throughout the podcast you will hear Avi explain how perhaps we shouldn’t be so concerned about our video-game playing teenagers, how AI can make us more productive and wealthier, and how demand for various jobs (beyond computer science) won’t necessarily plummet.  He even interrupted me once when I declared that something AI-related was “scary”… He responded with “…or exciting – depending on how you look at it!” Then he went on to explain why AI is so exciting.

THANK YOU Avi, for sharing your time and your knowledge.  And for making us more optimistic about our future with AI!

You can listen to the podcast here
or download the full shownotes here.

Ask Siri (or Alexa, or Bixby,…)

AI with voice recognition and voice commands in the form of virtual assistants or smart speakers is growing FAST.  Earlier this year, Amazon announced that they have now sold over >100,000,000 Alexa-enabled devices! Other examples include Bixby (Samsung’s virtual assistant), Cortana (for Windows, iOS, Android, XBox,…), Google AssistantMycroft (free open source for Linux) and Siri (Apple virtual assistant), to name a few.

Whether or not you use any of these, you are probably aware of some of the things they can do for us, including playing music, making lists, setting reminders, checking weather/traffic/sports/news, and … subscribing to and streaming PODCASTS!

There are also a few “Easter Eggs” programmed in to these virtual assistants. Easter eggs are undocumented surprises that are programmed into various software and DVDs.  They don’t show up in the instruction manual, but they are fun to look for and they can make GREAT party tricks. 

Here is your WEEKLY COMMUNICATION CHALLENGE.  Whether on your own device/speaker, or one you hi-jack from a friend, try a few of these.   Start by asking “Hey Siri,” or “Alexa?” or “OK Google,” then….

  1. … What’s zero divided by zero? (fun for us nerds)
  2. … Why are fire trucks red? (memorize this and impress your friends by reciting it with her!)
  3. … Beat box! (groovy)
  4. … Will you be my girlfriend? (hmmm…)
  5. … I am your father. (nnnoooo……!!!)
  6. … Find Chuck Norris. (hilarious if you’re of a certain age)
  7. … Self-destruct. (whoa!)
  8. … Did you fart? (there’s always the fart joke!)
  9. … Where do babies come from? (everyone leans in when someone asks this, right?)
  10. Alexa, do you know Siri? & vice versa (bahaha…)

Some of these answers even vary, depending on Siri’s or Alexa’s mood (OK – it might be random).

I would love to hear if you have any other fun commands to share!  Please email me at andrea@TalkAboutTalk.com.


This week we focus on…. AI!

? Enjoy this week’s podcast on

I learned a lot during my conversation with Avi Goldfarb, and I certainly felt more optimistic about our future with AI.  I hope you do too!  And I hope you have fun with our Weekly Communication Challenge.  Ask Siri or Alexa (or your virtual assistant or smart speaker) something from our list of ten commands – or see if you can come up with something else!  We would love to hear about it!

Speaking of which, THANK YOU for all of your feedback and compliments regarding the most recent episodes (#13 Highlights & Bloopers and #14 Sibling Communication & Birth Order Effects).  If you ever have comments, suggestions, or ideas, bring it on!  Please email me anytime.

Coming up next? We shift gears away from high-tech AI and turn our attention to FASHION.  I had the honour of interviewing the Executive Director of Toronto Fashion WeekCarolyn Quinn. Certainly our style communicates a lot about us, right?  Well, just as I felt more optimistic after my conversation with Avi Goldfarb about AI, I similarly felt more confident about how to shop and how to choose an outfit after my conversation with Carolyn Quinn! Tune in next week for some great insights on fashion and style.

One last thing: If you have any friends or colleagues who might also be interested in TalkAboutTalk, please forward this email or send them this link and encourage them to sign-up for the weekly email blog. (Yes, I will send them the coveted cheat sheets too!)

Have a great week.

TALK soon,

Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Founder & Chief Talker – TalkAboutTalk

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