Former Microsoft and Snowflake exec Bob Muglia’s new book is “The Datapreneurs: The Promise of AI and the Creators Building Our Future.”

This week: the origins of data, and the future of the digital species.

Our guest on the GeekWire Podcast is business and tech leader Bob Muglia, a startup investor and advisor who played a pivotal role in Microsoft’s database and server products, and was CEO of data warehouse company Snowflake Computing.

He’s the author, with Steve Hamm, of a new book called  “The Datapreneurs: The Promise of AI and the Creators Building Our Future,” published by Peakpoint Press.

Muglia connects the dots between early data innovation and the emerging era of artificial intelligence; talks about lessons from one of his favorite authors, Isaac Asimov; compares Microsoft and IBM to Microsoft and OpenAI; describes his focus as an AI-oriented investor; tells the story of the data center he built in his house; and explains why he’s an optimist about the convergence of technology and humanity.

Here’s an extended excerpt from his comments.

People will use AI for every possible purpose: the good, the bad, and the evil. We’ve heard a lot about the evil, but there’s also a tremendous amount of good that can be done with AI as a tool.

Then there’s the question about what happens as this AI that we’re building becomes smarter and smarter, and reaches what we might call the point of an artificial general intelligence, where it’s as smart as an average human.

At some point, do we think of these things as entities that are peers of ours that we share this Earth with? Perhaps. I mean, I do think that’s where we’re going. And I think that we are already imbuing ourselves into these things that we’re creating.

Whatever we create, it will be built based on the values of the people that put it together. And every day, more and more learning is happening about society and people that is happening digitally. And ultimately, all of this is information, it’s data that can be leveraged by the AIs of the future to learn about humanity and to learn about us. We are putting ourselves into these systems. …

Certainly the generations of people that are younger, their entire lives are getting recorded now digitally. That’s a foundation of what essentially becomes a digital twin of each of us in these in these systems that potentially can live on beyond us. In a way, it is a form of being able to create a certain level of immortality.

As a humanist, I’ve always believed that what matters is what we do on this planet, and the impact we have with other people in society. Now, for the first time, that is getting recorded en masse. We’ve gone from the verbal way of recording information … to various forms of writing, to the printing press, to ultimately computers and the internet.

Now, data of every type is recording society in a way that essentially has a permanence attached to it. These intelligent entities that we can create in the future will learn from all of this. It’s a little scary, for sure, but it’s pretty exciting, actually.

Listen above, or subscribe to GeekWire in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

With GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop; edited and produced by Curt Milton.

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