LFP 10th Anniversary! The Future of the Global System, FS, Fintech and the LFP! w/Tony Clark CEO Next Wave

This is the 4th and final episode in the mini-series celebrating the LFP’s 10th anniversary. Having looked at the past decade in Fintech, dived into how an LLM really works and discussed what risks AI does or doesn’t pose to humanity in this episode we cover the macro picture right now as the setting for the outlook for FS and Fintech over the next decade as well as revealing the exciting plans for levelling-up the LFP to go even further and fresher into it’s next decade.

For sure it is the best of times in terms of technology, even if in terms of “western”/US empire societal and economic situation the worst of times as WEF/2030/Agenda 21 continue to bear down upon the people.

But however the macro cookie crumbles with regard to geopolitics for sure FS will be affected significantly either way. Insane money-printing and government debt accumulation in western countries cannot continue for much longer without risking social and economic collapse as we have discussed on the podcast before. On the other hand will we have CBDCs and the State programming your currency?

There are many scenarios but the geopolitical changes are already being ushered in with the BIS, the “central banks bank” already well advanced with its mBridge project, a Swift alternative.

In this episode I am delighted to be joined once more by Tony Clark former guest and London Head of former brand partner’s Synechron as well as founder of Next Wave a digital acceleration consultancy for FS who lives much nearer the coalface of change than I.

So check the show out for not just an overview of the dominant geopolitical influences on FS, to which Fintech is simply a subset, but the future and how we see technology changing FS and Fintech in the upcoming decade.

And then finally in the show we reveal the exciting plans for levelling-up the LFP and taking it into its second decade – where for sure the pace of change will not, whatever happens, slow down!

Share and enjoy!

 

LFP10th Anniversary Special! A Deep Dive Into the Realpolitik of AI Risk – Are We All Doomed or Is That Sci-Fi Fantasy?

In this episode we discuss the super-hot and super-important topic of what Risks AI poses to humanity and society. There is perhaps not a hotter and more misunderstood topic than that of AI and the risks it poses. Many indeed fear that “it” will eliminate humans. The influential Geoffrey Hinton, co-creator of the seminal backpropagation algorithm, has been all over the media saying we need to worry and that there is 50% chance that AI outsmarts humanity and poses an existential risk. Other insiders put that probability at 100%.

Should we too worry if the real insiders are sounding the alarm?

I think not.

But why are the insiders not the people to turn to?

If the insiders were say insiders at Boeing who were blowing the whistle about dangerous aircraft manufacture processes then yes we should be concerned. Mind you we might also be concerned that three in a row now, having found their whistles, suddenly died in mysterious circumstances.

However if, in simple terms, airplane manufacturing risks are very much in the box, the risks AI poses are very much out of the box that the experts are expert in.

Whilst one must listen to their technological concerns, neural net experts are not experts out of the box. And it requires an assessment from outside the box to consider the risks to society as a whole.

So lets dive into whether AI is about to decide that their users are useless eaters or will AI be more benign than WEF luminaries and not turn us into slaves but serve us?

Or is AI merely the latest in many tools, many changes of technology which fits into a long-established pattern of such over the millennia. Each new technology by definition affecting the world in unique new ways as well as same old patterns.

We will have five sections:

  1. a brief summary of the prior episode on what an LLM is and a contextualisation in the wider field of AI and why LLMs in particular pose greater concerns than other AI technologies which have been used for a long time.
  2. I will briefly summarise LFP200 on the impact of technology on society historically. This new tech isn’t humanity’s first rodeo.
  3. before we assess risk in any domain we need to address biases that people have – linguistic/conceptual, philosophical/metaphysical, sociological and psychological.
  4. we will look at four domains that AI may affect in society – the crazy scifi that the robots are taking over, the economic impact, the informational impacts and technological developments.
  5. we will address the key point of who controls the technology. This “who controls” is for me the real crux of the matter and right now much of what one hears is propaganda to influence that outcome. To simplify will you end up owning your own super-smart chatbot or at the other will it be centrally-controlled by Big Brother, the corporate-state who will keep you safe and feed you its propaganda?

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!

 

 

LFP10th Anniversary Special! A Deep Dive: Demystifying LLMs, How They Work & the Amazing 81yr Timeline to their Creation!

LLMs, of which ChatGPT is the most well-known, are perhaps the most awesome tech invention of all time. Even experienced AI folk didn’t see this coming. Most if not all of us will have used ChatGPT. However an understanding of how they work is for most people either totally missing or totally misled by anthropomorphic language – thinking, learning, hallucinating, learns like a human, is like your brain and so forth. None of which are actually true in the slightest.

In this super-special episode I reject all the utterly misleading language that is entirely off the mark and instead focus on what LLMs are – schematically two programs that process data like all other programs, using no different programming languages or technologies – well other than needing an astronomical amount of computing power which so enriched Nvidia shareholders.

I explain using only a simple excel spreadsheet model how both of these programs ~the “training” program and the ~”Chatbot” program work and conceptually how one could create one in Excel.

Having established that, listeners will really know – in ways they can explain to others – what LLMs are and not be misled by human terms which are the currency of so many LLM descriptions.

LLMs appear to be a very recent and overnight success. However like the Beatles there was a long hard slog to get to say Camp 4 on Everest at which point they started to become noticed and from where it appeared to be a relatively short walk to the top of Everest and a mystery about how rapidly someone can get there.

But John Lennon and Paul McCartney were playing together in dive bars and village halls from 1957 until they summitted in 1963 with their first Number One.

The climbers on Everest may have gone all the way from London on the way to Everest.

And as for ChatGPT, phenomenally the journey started as far back as during World War 2 – an astonishing  81 years ago!

The road to ChatGPT was long and winding with all sorts of ups and downs including most of the specialist AI researchers deserting the field in the so-called “AI winter” from 1969 onwards.

It is a truly astonishing tale and, fascinatingly, as to the insanely hyped and utterly misleading human-related vocabulary surrounding LLMs, this dates back to a 1958 press conference (!). This showcased the US Navy’s Mark 1 Perceptron machine – a hardware-only machine which was created to aid the navy in image detection where as wikipedia says:

“In a 1958 press conference organized by the US Navy, Rosenblatt made statements about the perceptron that caused a heated controversy among the fledgling AI community; based on Rosenblatt’s statements, The New York Times reported the perceptron to be “the embryo of an electronic computer that [the Navy] expects will be able to walk, talk, see, write, reproduce itself and be conscious of its existence.”

The blurry photo on the left is of the perceptron and unsurprisingly none of it and its successors never did walk, talk, see, write, reproduce itself and be conscious of its existence.

Indeed it took perhaps fifty years to develop robots that could walk or computer programs that could see, write and talk but over 70 years to ones that could talk or write as intelligently as ChatGPT et al do.

Even then ChatGPT and other LLMs are like all other programs – they simply take input, do some computations and create output using no different technology from any other computer program. Their awesome abilities rely not on any magic other than simply the awesome human skill of creating new ideas after new ideas until after 81 years these achieved a critical mass and produced results that no-one expected – even the experts.

This Special is Part 1 of 2.

In Part 2 we will look at the risks of this new technology – all new technologies come with upsides and downsides – nuclear technology for instance can be used to keep us warm or to atom bomb us .

However, as the world of risks in LLMs and AI in general is dominated by insane sci-fi visions the field is entirely ungrounded. To get to that episode it is necessary to understand the actual nature of an LLM and how it works. Only then, alongside its abilities as a program, can you start to form an opinion as to what it’s consequences are.

Will LLMs, as their capabilities and powers grow, decide – like WEF luminaries that the people, their users, are “useless eaters” and start releasing gain of functioned viruses, feed us bugs and bankrupt us with so-called green taxes to funnel ever more money upwards? Or, will LLMs not turn into the WEF and instead remain as a powerful tool on your desktop no more threat to you or me than Excel? Or something in between?

Tune in to the next episode to find out!

But first find out what LLMs actually are and the amazing 81yr tale of their creation…

LFP 10th Anniversary Special! The Story of a Decade Of Fintech Evolution As It Happened at the Time

The past decade has seen the most extraordinary innovation in any business sector in the UK and thence world since the industrial revolution . An amazing outburst of creativity and independent players emerged on the oldest and stodgiest sector of all – FS. The LFP was the first, and most blue-chip podcast to cover this scene starting in 2014. This episode is like a mini-documentary that takes us one fast-forward through the development and progress of Fintech as it happened and was perceived at the time.

A decade of the LFP represents a unique historical archive, a super-rare window, a time-machine to be able to look back in time and see how things were perceived at the time. However such is the volume of episodes that if you took on, as a full-time job, listening to every episode in order it would take you well over a man-month of full-on 9-5 listening to go through the whole evolution. I thought more preferable would be a one hour review of this exciting decade of innovation and entrepreneurialism instead 🙂

It is genuinely hard to recollect how much has changed without examining things from a contemporaneous perspective. Witness for example the following anecdote. Talking of chronology and the London tech scene, back in 2014 there was something called Silicon Drinkabout. That was great. Every Friday evening they got some company to sponsor drinks at some pub and one got not just beer but to hang out with tech folk. It’s these little things which really help oil an emerging scene. Anyway the point of recalling this is that even at such a scene the most common question I got when I said I was starting or had just started the London Fintech Podcast was “what’s a podcast?”…

And that was amongst London’s tech savviest folk! Things change so fast these days we tend to forget how fast they’ve changed.

Time does not permit me to cover all episodes – and every episode had many lessons – but I will cover the vast majority, enough to get a real-time on fast forward view of the scene. Doing this exercise certainly surprised me in many cases and I am sure it will too. It reminded me of doing annual appraisals – it was so hard for one’s perceptions not to be overly dominated by the most recent few months compared to rather earlier in the year.

In the next LFP 10th Anniversary Special Celebration Episode I will review the interaction of Tech at large and Society – a super-important topic contextualising not just fintech as such but all of our lives and society. But first let’s review 2014-2024 in the hottest of all scenes that absorbed the most capital.

LFP251 – WARNING Re Mugging & Banking Apps

This is a super-short extraordinary LFP outside the usual programming schedule to alert listeners to the crime of mugging folks and then getting them to transfer under duress large sums of money to the thieves bank account. This is apparently on the increase in London and is well-known in countries such as Brazil and South Africa where people may routinely take burner phones with them when going into the City.

I initially learned about this risk in this Reddit thread.

Many people without reflection may in effect carry access to all of their money on a single device. We look at possible simple answers to avoid unnecessary risk.

There is also a shoutout for a Q& A in the 10th anniversary episode and instructions as how to send the Qs to me for answering in that episode.

LFP250 – Guide to using PR in Tech Firms w/Ben Goldsmith CEO Goldsmith Communications

If you invent the world’s greatest Fintech App in your garden shed that’s impressive – but something only known to you. At which point you need to get the word out to relevant audiences. PR is an essential component in the modern world to help you refine and target that message and to get you and it into the relevant publications/podcasts et al that will reach your target clients and the market in general (think targets for next fund raise perhaps).

At a more macro level, the dark side of PR is that it is, as Musk said propaganda, and one often designed not in the recipients’ best interest, whether it be Bernays getting women to take up smoking or governments getting people to be injected more recently.

However that’s way above the Fintech space and in this episode Ben takes a very value-adding practical approach to what PR is, when you need it and when you don’t, what the value-add is, how to use it well and what to look out for when hiring a PR firm amongst many other insider-angles.

Ben is a long term player in the whole media and Fintech scene including the earliest days of Level39 and working at Balderton Capital VCs and formed his own boutique agency focusing on B2B Fintech and VC PR in 2017.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP249 – Radical Innovation in a Cross-Domain Fashion w/Ani Sane co-founder Terrapay

One major way of innovating is to move into a domain with transferable and out of the box skills/ideas/technology. This presents obvious opportunities  for radical change yet naturally produces equally obvious challenges. In this episode we look at how 4 co-founders created a payments infrastructure Fintech that now connects an amazing 7.5 billion bank accounts, 6 billion cards, connect banks in 144 countries and have 620 employees with offices in 35 countries.

Ani came from FS and so understood not just how money currently moved but also the super-importance of understanding that its an incredibly regulated business.

The other three co-founders came from the telecoms world and had no idea of how money moved. However they brought in what the telecom industry does very well – namely builds at scale, can process small volume transactions and deliver them instantly.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP248 – The Challenges of FS/Fintech Boards esp in the 21stC w/Neil Holden Serial FS NED

The Governance of FS as a whole affects all of our lives as we saw in 2008 let alone in many individual examples of FS/Fintech businesses failing and losing clients money. In our digital age virtually all of our money is digital and next to no-one sees a share certificate any more so all of our investments are digital. Thus what might appear to be a refined topic for a few is at the heart of all of our lives – money being used for roughly everything and savings equating to money saved for tomorrow.

As a result of this central role of money in economies, Boards in FS have always had to be – lets put this mildly – “rather more careful” than Boards of companies which if they fell over would “domino” not very far. Not only do many FS/Fintechs “take care of” clients money but money itself in the current financial model is created out of thin air by banks.

Add to these long standing issues the ever-increasing burden on Boards as a whole from the always metastasising Regulatory State, ever-greater minutiae in FS per se and the State using companies to enforce social agendas which even a decade ago would have seemed unlikely/bizarre and we have a very challenging cocktail.

Neil has 20 years expe4rience on Boards and Chairing sub-committees of FS and Fintech Boards and is thus well-placed to guide us through this labyrinth.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP247 – The Long Slow Path To Tech Success, Issues Involved and Moral Choices w/Ruzbeh Bach CEO City Falcon

The tech world focuses heavily on the “succeed fast or fail fast” model of tech growth. In part this is as VC firms generally have limited life funds and hence cannot handle slower models but is also as the tech press loves the hype/condemn cycle implicit in this. However generally most businesses do not follow this model. Whilst rapid success comes to a few, for more it takes rather longer and for many its a slow rocky path. After all hottie OpenAI (ClosedAI?) took quite some years to make a noticeable splash.

Ruzbeh founded City Falcon a decade ago and whilst, like us all, preferred rapid success, he has moved into the more marathon development model of the business. I was particularly enamoured of his very human/ethical perspective and clarity of the social costs of the “succeed or fail fast” model – namely that it comes at the price of burning your friends and family and employees just so that you can get onto your next gig as fast as possible.

With a huge desire worldwide to move on from all business being dominated by neoliberalism – you know, the “humans qua just another resource model” (with some virtue signalling perhaps as perfume to cover the heartlessness of seeing people as resources) – this is a good time to dive into the slower model. This slower model is definitely no picnic – the longer you hang out in business or in life the more tsunamis you will have to face.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP246: The Crucial Role of Venture Accelerators – NEDs, Advisors, Mentors, Mentors of Mentors, Angels et al – w/Nic Lenz

The Founder(s) is(are) at the heart of creating something new that literally never existed before.  However they very much do not do this in vacuo needing to entice and hire a team below them but also, less well understood, a team around them. The surround will at some point coalesce into a formal Board (as opposed to a pro forma Board for Day0 – and for many days after – NewCos).

In this episode experienced NED/Advisor/Mentor/Angel Nic Lenz and I discuss experience in this field with particular reference to formerly senior BigCo folk who wish to get involved in the SmallCo world attracted by the creativity, and let’s face it greater fun/thrills&spills but also to educating the first time founder, or potential founder who will naturally realise they need a CTO et al but may think that “the organogram below them and some dosh” is all they need.  It’s certainly the minimum viable organisation but is it the optimal organisation for their personal support/challenge as well as the company’s future?

Both Nic and I have seen countless examples of where the right “grey hair or no hair” experienced folk even though very much part-time contributing to the company can make all the difference between success and failure. We also discuss the challenges of transitioning from BigCo to SmallCo – which applies to both founders and venture accelerators – along with mentoring mentors and the key essences of both sides of the venture creator and the venture accelerator equation.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading