My friend John Sherman, Partner and CEO of Storyfarm, is a brilliant, funny, and talented guy. Having won a Peabody Award (at age 29), an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, a National Emmy Award, a National Edward R. Murrow Award, 16 Regional Emmy Awards, 16 Addy Awards, a bushel basket of Telly Awards, and having been named a Baltimore Business Journal 40 under 40, a Baltimore Magazine Best of Baltimore, and Baltimorean of the Year, he’s also a chronic overachiever.
Before opening Storyfarm, John enjoyed a distinguished career in television news reporting.
John recently added a new project to his already crazy-busy schedule: For Humanity, an AI Safety Podcast. (I’m not sure how many hours John has in each day, but I’m thinking he must have significantly more than I have in mine.)
Through For Humanity, John explores the grim worst-case scenario of artificial intelligence: human extinction. He says, “The makers of AI openly admit that their work could kill all humans in as soon as two to ten years. My podcast is solely about the threat of human extinction from artificial general intelligence (AGI). We’ll meet the heroes and villains, explore the issues and ideas, and look at what you might do to help save humanity.”
When asked about his interest in the darkest-of-the-dark side of AGI, John says, “In March 2023, following the release of Chat GPT4, I came across an article in Time Magazine online that changed my perspective on everything. I’m an optimist to my core and a lover of technology. But that one article changed my outlook on the future more than anything I thought was remotely possible.” The Time article was written by Eleizer Yukdowsky, a universally esteemed AI safety leader and researcher working in AI safety for more than 20 years.”
Here’s John’s powerful first episode.
Personally, I’m intrigued by AI. I see the good it can do. I also see how terrifyingly destructive it can be. And I see how some people are using it to leverage corporate profits over people. I’ve been a SAG-AFTRA member since 1971, and as a union we are currently on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). A key element of our concern is the use of AI by corporations wanting to create content without having to pay creators. SAG-AFTRA released this characterization of what AMPTP is demanding:
That quote, published by FirstPost.com, Forbes, and others, may seem like a small issue to many. The fact is, it’s just the tip of an massively destructive iceberg that would initiate the expansion of a visual and verbal identity crisis affecting everyone. It would further undermine all forms of creative and journalistic credibility. AI is currently able to understand and respond to our failures, emotions, and fears; AI continues to learn and reply with lightning speed; and frighteningly, AI also suffers from hallucination (also called confabulation or delusion.)
Take a look at John’s podcast; it’s on every platform. For Humanity is a fascinating hour each week that I’m sure you’ll talk about and discuss for a long time to come. And please subscribe. He’s just getting started with this.
Oh, and that overachiever business I mentioned at the top? John was also a question on Jeopardy!
Let the AI conversation continue …