Ep 293: How AI Can Create New Economic Opportunities in Your City

AI For Urban Problem Solving

Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents a game-changing tool that can address challenging civic problems such as traffic, crime, and safety. Through harnessing AI, cities can design new products or services tailor-made for their needs, creating a competitive advantage and improving citizen services. Delving into AI applications, cities can borrow a leaf from go-to-market strategies where processes are designed around a unique product.

Collaborative Cultures in AI Innovation

Community and collaboration form the bedrock of AI innovation. Expanding these collaborative networks avails countless learning opportunities and encourages sharing of best practices. Themed events, like AI Conferences, can present an excellent platform for fostering collaboration. They bring together industry leaders, fostering the creation of collaborative models at both city and state level.

Championing AI Awareness and Capacity Building

Adopting AI calls for not only technological preparedness but also a cognitive shift especially among city leaders, some of whom harbor low information and negative sentiments about AI. There is a critical need for raising awareness, sourcing the right talent, and providing tools to bridge the AI knowledge gap. Some of these initiatives can include training for product directors and promoting designs for growing cities.

AI: From Job Displacement To Job Creation

While AI may lead to job displacement as highlighted by numerous reports, including those from the International Monetary Fund, it's also poised to create new job opportunities. The narrative should focus on the jobs AI is primed to create rather than those it may make obsolete, and city leaders, as well as businesses, need to be at the forefront in preparing for this workforce revolution.

AI Adoption, Strategy, and The Right People

To maximize AI's potential, there's an imminent need for businesses to develop a proper AI adoption strategy. This involves balancing short-term and long-term goals, identifying external innovators for collaboration, and most importantly, enlisting the right people.

Empowerment, Leadership, and AI

Leveraging AI talent begins with ensuring the presence of leadership that enables and empowers employees to learn and exploit AI. A lack of such leadership signifies a missed opportunity for businesses to maximize the potential benefits of AI.

In summary, AI holds immense potential for solving urban issues, creating economic opportunities, and shaping the future of work. Therefore, it's incumbent upon businesses, city leaders, and other stakeholders to foster an environment of learning, innovation, and responsiveness that will allow them to fully exploit the opportunities presented by AI.

Topics Covered in This Episode

1. AI in Local Economic Opportunities
2. Overcoming Challenges for AI Deployment in Cities
3. Specific Examples of AI Innovations
4. Impact of AI on Employment
5. AI Adoption Strategy in Business

Podcast Transcript

Jordan Wilson [00:00:16]:
When we talk about AI, a lot of that talk is often on job displacement and, you know, will AI take my job? And, you know, although there may be job displacement, I think we don't talk enough about what happens on the other side of that and how AI can actually create new economic opportunities in your city. It's something I'm extremely excited to talk about today on everyday AI. What's going on y'all? My name is Jordan. I'm the host of Everyday AI, and this is for you. We are your daily guide to learning and leveraging generative AI to grow your company and grow your career. So we do this every single day. So make sure if you're listening for the first time, go to your everyday ai.com. Sign up for our free daily newsletter where we recap our conversation and our expert guest interview each and every day.

Jordan Wilson [00:01:06]:
So before we get started, let's do as we always do and tell you what's going on in the world of AI news. Alright. So first, DeepMind and Harvard researchers have teamed up for an impressive AI discovery with rats. So DeepMind has developed a computerized rat with an artificial brain using movement data from real rats. The virtual rat could lead to breakthroughs in neuroscience research. So this virtual rat has biologically realistic and an accurate brain, making it a valuable tool for studying brain function and behavior. The digital model opens up opportunities for further AI simulations and research into neural circuits and brain disease. Alright.

Jordan Wilson [00:01:50]:
We're going on the other side for our second piece of AI news because we have another new Sora competitor. So Luma AI has launched Dream Machine, a powerful AI text to video tool capable of generating videos from simple text descriptions. So the system aims to revolutionize the video production industry by making it more accessible and efficient. So, yes, this is literally the 2nd major competitor to OpenAI's Sora, but Sora is not yet released to the public. So, earlier this week, we talked about Cling, which is only accessible right now if you have a valid Chinese phone number. However, this new tool, Dream Machine from LUMA AI, is available now for everyone. So, it's actually very impressive and is already SoRa quality, which is actually kind of concerning because people are looking at it and saying, okay. This is actually could fool a lot of people.

Jordan Wilson [00:02:47]:
It'd be used for deep fakes, misinformation, disinformation, etcetera. However, you can generate up to a 120 frames in a 120 seconds, so about 4 seconds of video in 2 minutes. However, users are reporting right now it's taking more than an hour at time for generating, just because of crazy demand. So, we'll have a link so that you can check that out in our newsletter. Last but not least, parliament could be getting a new AI member. So a digital avatar named AI Steve is running for a seat in the British parliament. The avatar is based on a real person, entrepreneur Steve Endicott, and is programmed to generate policy suggestions and collect input from potential constituents. So AI technology, like I said, is now being used in politics, and AI Steve is created by a company called Neural Voice and is programmed to generate policy suggestions and collect inputs from potential constituents.

Jordan Wilson [00:03:42]:
Alright. Well, hey. Is that a politician that will now be forced to actually listen to its constituents? We'll have to wait and see. Alright. But let's get into today's show. I'm extremely excited to have an industry veteran with us today on everyday AI. So please help me welcome to the show. There we go.

Jordan Wilson [00:04:02]:
We have Xiaoching Zhang, who is the chief responsibility AI officer and executive director of AI 2030. Zhao Chen, thank you for joining the Everyday AI Show.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:04:12]:
Thank you. And it's great honor to just come back. Yeah. Yeah.

Jordan Wilson [00:04:17]:
Yeah. We hey. Was so good. We had to come back. We talked probably about a year ago about AI and startups, and now we have a completely new and very important conversation to have today. Xiaochuan, before we get started, tell everyone a little bit about your background and a little bit about AI 2030.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:04:34]:
Absolutely. And, so, currently, as to what John mentioned, as, you know, I'm running AI 2030. Our main mission is to trying to mainstream responsible AI and, to, realize the potential of AI in the meantime to minimize the the the negative impact of AI to humanity. And then before that, I was the global head of innovation and go to market at AWS. I also worked for, organization like World Bank, United Nation, and Tata Universities and started my own startup called, Fintech for good 7 or 8 years ago and, with the main role to just build emerging technology based ventures. Yeah.

Jordan Wilson [00:05:21]:
Yeah. So just, decades of experience. Yeah. So, you know, now has this huge group, called, AI 2030, some of the brightest minds in artificial intelligence. And, you know, even Zao Chen working in go to market with, you know, Amazon Web Services. You've you know a lot about innovation. So, with with that in mind, how because I think let's just answer that that big elephant too. Right? The big elephant in the room is I think when people think about artificial intelligence and and generative AI, a lot of times they think of job loss.

Jordan Wilson [00:05:56]:
Right? And people say, oh, is AI going to take my job? So, I mean, what is the answer to that? And, you know, maybe let's talk about the flip side too on the new economic opportunities.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:06:07]:
Yeah. And, the answer is yes. AI is going to replace your job, and the the traditional sense of job security doesn't exist anymore. And any job potentially can be replaced by AI. And, that's, you know, ranging from the CEO of the company to really, you know, the technical person to just even the janitor in the in, you know, in in the office building. So every job there is a a a risk that's, you know, that that job will be replaced. But, you know, then there's the emerge the emergence of, AI and or machine and a human clever intelligence. This is the the future where that's any job will be redesigned, and, that redesign is happening already now.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:07:00]:
And according to the IMF report, that's, you know, over 80 some meeting of jobs will be replaced. But in by 2025 alone. And, but of course, that's, you know, from the new jobs that will emerge with AI and, again from IMF reports, that number is over 90,000,000 and which is the, by 2025. As you can see that, you know, AI can be called as the double sword in the specifically, you know, job market. And if we apply that to at the city level and then the mayors and also the city governments need to really answer that question. Do you want your city to just really, you know, be the city impacted heavily negatively by AIC? That's, you know, majority of the jobs in the city disappear where that's no new job emerged in my city or you want to, you know, better prepared to see that. Although you know, there are jobs that are replaced, but, you know, we have more jobs created, you know, for citizens. I think there that's naturally, there are a lot of things can be done to prepare the city, you know, for for the future, revolution.

Jordan Wilson [00:08:18]:
Yeah. Yeah. And and important, studies out, Jen, just mentioned there. We'll be sure to share that, in today's newsletter about the, you know, International Monetary Fund. And, you know, it says, up to 60% of jobs in the west could be impacted, in by 2025, which is wild to think about, you know, that that's less than 2 years away the end of 2025. You know, what should Zhou Chen, both business and city leaders, be looking to do? Right? Because, it it seems like it's been this scramble the past year to to understand, you know, generative AI and to actually put it to use. But what can Citi and business leaders be doing to make sure that they are creating opportunity on the back end and not just focusing on productivity?

Xiaochen Zhang [00:09:07]:
Yeah. That's to start from the the the, business. And then Citi actually, you know, the strategy for Citi is very similar to the to the business. And number 1 for the business leader is that, you know, really need to have a strategy. And, I had many conversation with with, you know, CXOs of the, business. And a lot of them really just are don't have enough, you know, either, preparation or, you know, in term of resourcing the right people, they themselves are not resourcing themselves to get ready to have a new type of strategy. And, just, you know, 2 days ago in Houston at Houston convention, I was sharing with, you know, all the energy related leaders and energy, oil, gas, and one of the key things that, the most important AI model is the business model. So you can imagine that, you know, now that's a lot of, business trying to just say, hey.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:10:15]:
If we can just brand OpenAI's or, you know, other general general, generative model into my business, that's it. But that's really not it, and it can create a lot of problem. You still don't have a sustainable competitiveness and all that. Really, you know, the number one thing is that's really looking to, you know, your AI strategy. We think that AI strategy, number 1, is really, you know, to look into your your human resources and say, do you have the chief AI officer? And, do you have people who, you know, can give you that strategy and the brand, the technology, and the business models together to redesign what have the new opportunities and what are the existing opportunity you are going to lose, you know, and, then define what will be the first the the the near term steps and a long term step. And very similar to a city and, you know, I was at MIT's AI Summit, and there that's I, you know, learned that met, Massachusetts state, and for example, introduced a $100,000,000, you know, AI AI budget and establish, you know, a public private sector collaboration, like AI passports and then to really define how to leveraging, you know, this, puppy budget to unlock more opportunity from the private sector budget or or or, and then to just really build a strategy which can keep Massachusetts as continue to be a leader in AI. Similarly, that you can just look into, you know again, I was back, for the Texas, enter social enterprise award where that's you know, this is also state level to recognize the the type of, innovation, which can really just match the demand with the supply. And a lot of those supply are AI driven.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:12:19]:
Come back to where I stay in Illinois and the Chicago and, you know, from backdoor, there's law a lot of, you know, actions taken by the, you know, the state and the city government and try to understand, you know, what are the impact and how who can just help city and the state to to do better planning and who can really just taking that, you know, plan and then to to support the operation, of the plan, bring new additional resources and human capital, and the technology into solving the city related problems. Yeah.

Jordan Wilson [00:12:57]:
And and, hey, as a reminder to our livestream audience, we we have, Xiaoqing Zhang with us from AI 2030. So if you have questions, he's I I think of all the people I've met, he is one of the brightest minds in artificial intelligence and and how businesses can impact it. So, Zao Jin, something that that you kind of referenced there is, you know, different cities have different focuses. Right? So, you know, as an example, if if we talk about, you know, New York, we might think of, you know, finance and and, you know, real estate. In LA, we think of entertainment. In, you know, Houston, we think of energy. So, you you know, when it comes to specific cities that have a main industry, I feel that AI both has the potential to be very disruptive yet at the same time can be extremely explosive in a good way, especially when a city has a specific industry that it focus on. So how can leaders, especially when there is kind of a main driver in a city, how can they use AI to actually create those new economic opportunities? Hey.

Jordan Wilson [00:14:07]:
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Xiaochen Zhang [00:15:03]:
Yeah. So that's a very good question because, you know, number 1 is that the AI is going to impact the oil industry. And so then naturally, you know, from the city planning side where that's, you know, within your main industry and how can you keep it keep the make it a competitive in the future. And, again, go back to, you know, my my trade in Texas that was, very, you know, specific of, focus in the oil, gas, and energy industry. And the number one thing, you know, the the both the business and, and, the the, you know, public civil servants need to just be aware of is that, you know, this industry, number 1 is that the traditional business model will disappear. And, you know, many time if you have a main industry and which means this main industry is serving existing customers, You have the current need, the current demand, the current priorities, which may drive you close eye for future oriented planning and resourcing. And I think the number one thing for for for, you know, the both party and private sector is to really, you know, understand and also balance the short term and the long term goal. And really just, you know, from that balance, basically, to just include AI related impact of this model design as a priority.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:16:40]:
And as of now, still, you know, from many conversations that, business leaders in those major industry, in those, you know, cities and still have not realized how much and then their own industry is going to be impacted by AI. They're still trying to solve the current, you know, customer problems that they are solving well today. So I think that that's the number 1, which is critical. Number 2 is really, you know, identifying who are your external, innovators that you can collaborate with. And in the during the, you know, AI age, naturally, that controllability will be very different. Many many, you know, businesses don't have controllability of their fate. And for example, if, you know, in your industry that, you know, large line model, is the only way that, you know, you you can just reinventing your business. And naturally, that's a foundational model.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:17:46]:
There are only, you know, very few organization candidates working on foundational model, naturally, you will lose the control. So how can you just be comfortable by making your decision and together with, you know, working or in collaboration with the innovators outside of your organization. How can you design a process to engage externally, bring that insights and that new business model into your your your business that becoming important. And the the third part, which is also important, again, go go back to people where that's, you know, I heard it so many times at a technical level where that's the people, you know, who are excited about AI. They are not enabled by their leadership to just, you know, taking, actions. And I give you example every day, and I receive at least 20 to 30, you know, email or request a you know, there are great talent who want to join AI 2030 because they cannot do the type of job and interact with type of expertise on AI. They got frustrated. They wanna push the boundary, but they are not incentivized.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:19:03]:
They are not enabled, empowered to do so. I think that is just a meeting opportunity for many of the businesses.

Jordan Wilson [00:19:12]:
You know, another thing, Zao Chen that I I I think about, especially when it comes to local economic opportunity. Right? Because I feel so much of the conversation around generative AI is either job displacement or productivity. Right? But I I think that AI has the potential to solve, many problems that that, you know, local communities or or cities have faced and maybe have been unable to address, you know, as an example, you know, traffic, crime, safety, etcetera. How do you see that playing out, you you know, once, you know, once, kind of city leaders can can understand and actually leverage the technology? But how do you see that, playing out, at the city level on how AI, can actually help solve some of these problems?

Xiaochen Zhang [00:20:06]:
Yeah. That's I will just go to, you know, the upcoming Chicago AI conference. The the reason I I mentioned that is the this is exactly where that's I you know, when you when you talk about any other, you know, type of conference, and it can only focus on one thing. But because they were talking about AI, naturally, it impacts the oil industry. So we have business leaders, you know, who will talk about how AI is transforming banking. And, then we have leaders who talk about, you know, how AI is just reinventing the real estate. And then we have also leaders who talk about, you know, how, AI is helping them to just do media content creation different. So as you can see from the examples where that's, there are a lot of, interesting, use cases and stories and the success for, use case already being tested, by many of the industry business leaders.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:21:15]:
And just, you know, from the CT side that how can you just really bring those use cases together from different industry and informing and bring together other type of ecosystem players and formulate a collaborative model. Getting them, you know, to working together, I think that would be the key. And because the Biden update that's every, you know, industry leaders think that they are empowered or they are being impacted by AI. Naturally, AI is something, you know, bigger than a small, individual company. And I think from the public sector, how you can bring, you know, businesses together that becoming a unique asset. And, I see that for city and the state government and, the unique, competitive advantage is that, if a city or a state government designed a process and, also have, you know, a methodology to systematically bring bring in mind from the academic, you know, system to the, the together with the, you know, industry leaders from across industry together and then to formula, formulate a new business models and the new, exciting, you know, early stage pilot task. And I think that will just help the city to remain to be competitive in the future.

Jordan Wilson [00:22:47]:
You know, you bring up a super interesting angle there, Zao Chen, you know, kind of how cities need to kind of, really find and exploit that competitive advantage and to use AI to design a process around it. So it almost sounds similar like a go to market strategy. Right? Like like, you know, tapping into your background there at at AWS. Is is that how cities should be looking at AI? Like, it is a a a brand new kind of product or service that they're bringing to their local economy, and and should they kind of be taking a similar approach as a, you know, a company with a big, you know, new product or service going to market?

Xiaochen Zhang [00:23:30]:
Yeah. Absolutely. And I think, you know, then we go back to, you know, CT need to re redefine what is your brand and, what is the your the the the main card you have to play. And if you have that brand, you want to see, you know, how that brand being impacted by AI. And, then you need to design new products and which is, you know, at a city level that's, you know, basically, you know, is still this industry or it's a different industry. And if you you know, by the end of the day, you know, city also need to understand what is the key problems that my city, the industry or business in my city help to solve. That those, you know, customer problems and citizen problems are changing and it wastes the emerging technology. And then, you know, to define understand that that's the problem and align the right business solution or innovators together to really design and deploy new solutions becoming important.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:24:35]:
And there that's, you know yeah. As of what you said, you know, city and the state need to really have people who can help the city to really do go to market, to enhancing that brand, to bring together the right stakeholders and, also, you know, bring them them together to do the right things. And then that's can, you know, help the city to remain competitive, remain just, you know, provide, quality citizen services in the future.

Jordan Wilson [00:25:07]:
A great a great question here from Sean, saying any, so so, Sean, thanks for joining us from YouTube, saying any advice on how to bring along city leaders who have high negative emotion about AI and low information. Sean saying there is a pushback in some corners, but they really just lack knowledge. What's the advice there, Zafsheng?

Xiaochen Zhang [00:25:29]:
Yeah. So let's go back to AI 2030. Why did we just, you know, started even from beginning? Because we saw it. That's exactly the gap where that's, you know, from a, you know, other way focused on responsible AI. But, you know, just for AI side, a lot of, you know, similar gaps. And, when we talk about mainstream responsible AI or even mainstream AI, And then naturally, we are looking at the different gaps that exist in the system. Number 1 is the awareness gap, and number 2 is the talent gap. Number 3 is the tooling gap.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:26:04]:
No matter you just want to take AI response or or take AI responsibly, And you need to first suggest raising awareness that's from the leadership to your technical level, and everyone need to really just aware of, you know, how to do AI or how to do AI responsibly. That's just to add some, you know, the the leadership level for both public and private sector. And, you know, we organize a lot of events and, promote different membership, give you know, empower members to really just, you know, raising awareness on AI. Then from the talent side, that's, you need to really resources the right talent to be able to do it, help you to think, help you to do it, help you even to report back. So there that's, you know, from the, you know, looking at your city and what is the key, AI related problems and align, you know, the right innovators around it to provide that tooling, and that that's very important. I'm in involved as a core partner for United Nation Climate Change Convention. And then to you know, for you at triple c, you know, to promote future design for growing Citi, and then they are planning for the for the, Citi Challenge With the city challenge to map map out, you know, what are the desirable outcome that the mayors in different emerging market cities are thinking and then to bring the right innovation using the challenge to match them. And that's a good example how the tooling side, you know, can the the gap can be filled.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:27:42]:
Then the last one is from the, you know, the, the the the the talent part from training and from the, you know, private sector side that we identifying a number of, k changemakers, like in the board of directors, executives. Those are the the people who really make a significant decision and whose knowledge are not there or whose awareness are not there. And then we you know, in July, we're going to deliver the responsible AI for product director training and then to enable product director to have the right framework, you know, to really help, you know, the the the company they advise to, you know, move forward, not backward, you know, to take on AI responsibly. And I think those are the key things that, you know, help them to address awareness, talent, and the tooling gaps. Those are the things that what we do and we have seen, early result, you know, engaging with different business.

Jordan Wilson [00:28:43]:
Jeez. Where where else can you get such a well thought out, answer, you know, on on that, for aside from Zao Chen and here on Everyday AI. But, you know, Zao Chen, you said a lot about your city, you know, your city. But speaking of our city, Chicago, we're both from Chicago. So, your, your, kind of, group is is putting on the Chicago AI Week starting June 24th. So we'll be sharing about that in the newsletter today. I'm excited to be, chairing a panel there. But, Zhao Chen, as as we wrap up, right, because we've covered so much, you know, talking about how traditional job security doesn't exist anymore and how on the flip side, cities can be using AI to create new, economic opportunities and how it's almost like a go to market strategy.

Jordan Wilson [00:29:28]:
But, Shaochin, as we wrap up today's show, what's the one main takeaway that you want people to to understand when it comes to how AI can create new economic opportunities?

Xiaochen Zhang [00:29:39]:
Yeah. I think, you know, probably the easy for me to do that is to, you know, come come to join us, you know, on June 25th to 26th, you know, to check out the Chicago AI Conference. And then also join the 18/71 AI Innovation Summit on June 27th. And then we have June 28th, the web 3 com. And the reason why we designed this, the weak client program, is that no single person should just, you know, give any, you know, individual or business or government a strategy. And, just so, you know, to blend yourself in a community and a community of innovators, a community of thought leaders, a community of, you know, doors. And I think, there, during this week on program, we bring the web 3 related experts and financial service, health care, media, and all coming together. I think that is the unique, you know, opportunity where that if anyone want to learn about AI and want to just, you know, also do something to, you know, enhance the accountability of your faith in, you know, in in in not being disrupted and also give out a strategy and know that who you can collaborate with.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:31:04]:
I think that is the just from one time investment, and you will be able to expose to all of them.

Jordan Wilson [00:31:11]:
Maochuan, so much good information as always. It was great to have you on the Everyday AI Show. We really appreciate your time.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:31:21]:
Thank you.

Jordan Wilson [00:31:22]:
Alright, y'all. As a reminder, a lot of great information. We're gonna be sharing a lot more about what Zhao Chen talked about and other related things in today's news newsletter. So make sure check out your show notes. It's always there. Or just go to your everydayai.com. Sign up for that free daily newsletter. Thank you for tuning in today.

Jordan Wilson [00:31:39]:
We hope to see you back tomorrow and every day for more everyday AI. Thanks, y'all.

Xiaochen Zhang [00:31:44]:
Thank you.

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