Graham Brown interview
Lance Wantenaar: [00:00:00] Welcome to the thinking like a genius podcast episode. And today I’ve got a really interesting guest with me. I’ve got. Graham brown. Who’s the owner of the pickle podcasting agency. And he’s also an author of a number of books. And he’s got an interesting topic, which I have not had a chance yet to really delve into, which is AI.
[00:00:49] Now, the reason why. I’m very excited to have Graham on is there’s a couple of other areas which is written about on his blog, which I find incredibly fascinating, which is storytelling. And I wanted to find out why Graham you focused on AI and storytelling. What’s the connection and why the fascination with AI when you are a podcast agency.
[00:01:16] Creator. And also why you generated was over a thousand episodes of podcast episodes. So can you give people a bit of an introduction about one, your background, what you do and who you are, and then we’ll dive into the whole AI discussion.
[00:01:32] Graham Brown: [00:01:32] Sure. Well, thanks Lance. It’s great to be here. I don’t carry any business cards, but if I was to, it would say storyteller on it.
[00:01:41] Because that’s what I do and effectively, that’s what I get paid to do by agency clients who want us to create podcasts for them. It’s not how I started out in my studies. I studied AI back in, well, I graduated in 95, 19 95 last century.
[00:02:02] Lance Wantenaar: [00:02:02] Yeah, I know the
[00:02:02] Graham Brown: [00:02:02] feeling. Yeah. And I was very convinced at the time that AI was a thing, but nobody would, I really saw what I saw and it was too, too early.
[00:02:12] The, the computational power wasn’t there. you know, it was more philosophical, even though it was all modeled intelligence on computers because we didn’t have the libraries and the power that we do now, a lot of it was about what is AI? What is intelligence? What is consciousness? And so that’s how I started out, but I didn’t manage to allow myself a job in AI.
[00:02:32] At the time I had a choice of either teaching AI again, which would have been, you know, full circle in that career path or go to MIT. And you know, that wasn’t that open option for me was too expensive. So I took the path. I was given an opportunity to teach English in Japan, which is what everybody was doing, but.
[00:02:51] So I went to Japan and we did that started me out in my career as a storyteller presenting, communicating, engaging, and really, they don’t seem to make sense now why AI and why storytelling? And it’s taken 25 years to close that loop. Yeah. And one of the factors is what’s happening in the world today.
[00:03:13] Increasingly our world is being driven by machine learning, even to the point where, you know, if you order a coffee from Starbucks on some delivery app, it’s computed by machine learning that’s AI at work, or what you search for is somehow shaped by AI in the most basic forms because of that, because of machine learnings input in our world.
[00:03:35] It’s dehumanizing a lot of work and therefore we’re seeking out more human connection like this, this audio connection through podcasts. So storytelling is becoming more important. So on the one hand, you’ve got this macro trend. Storytelling is becoming more important because it’s a huge, very human skill and it differentiates us from machine that’s the only thing machines can’t do well.
[00:03:59] And then the other part is, you know, really AI is about trying to understand people and how we think and trying to model it. And one of the most important skills we human beings have and how we influence. Other people is storytelling. So if you want to understand intelligence, you have to understand how we impact engage, lead, follow other people.
[00:04:23] And that is, all a subset of storytelling. So they’re very closely aligned even though AI is kind of working on. You know, the intellectual tree towards more complex forms of intelligence. That’s where we need to go.
[00:04:37]Lance Wantenaar: [00:04:37] You’ve
[00:04:37] referenced quite a few areas, which I would like to dive into. You mentioned about AI and consciousness.
[00:04:46] I just wanted to unpack that a bit. What was your insights into the link between AI and consciousness and what are the, you would say constructs behind that?
[00:04:54]Graham Brown: [00:04:54] Consciousness is always used as an argument. Why machines can’t be human. For example, you can create some music and you can engage with that music as a listener, let’s say you’re listening to Metallica or led Zeppelin or whatever it may be, but you engage with not only the music, but the people, the people behind the music, whatever your favorite music is.
[00:05:21] Yeah. Because of that, we feel that it has soul. It has a human involved in it, and it has a consciousness behind it. I mean, that could apply to, for example, creating art. It could apply to creating, you know, lunch for somebody in a restaurant, the person who made it had consciousness, they were thinking about that.
[00:05:39] They were thinking about who they were and maybe putting ideas together that didn’t exist. And so we feel. Especially when we have these very human moments, there is some kind of consciousness there, and that’s what separates us from machine. However what’s being found is the more and more complex machines become.
[00:05:56] And if you look for example, at AlphaGo, which was Google’s AI powered, go playing bot. Just crushed all world champions it 1 51 out of 52 games against all the grandmasters in the world. And apparently, actually the 52nd game. It lost only because the internet connection dropped. It’s not a joke. That’s the only time the machine lost.
[00:06:22] But the point is, is that even the grandmasters said that the moves and the game play of AlphaGo was so what they called divine. That they thought it couldn’t have been done by machine. It was playing at this level. Like it’s somehow new. It was playing these very strange opening moves, which caught people off guard.
[00:06:44]And, you know, these grandmasters would play against it and they were thinking what’s going, this is not a normal opening gambit on go. And then it would basically. Then, the sucker punch would play this series of moves and crush these grandmasters. And that’s the point is that it’s just far more complex than previous machines.
[00:07:04] It appears to be conscious, right? So there is a school of thought, which I subscribed to that consciousness is like the hum of a fridge, or you’ve got a fridge. In the kitchen, right. And it keeps your food cool and fresh and it hums, it makes a noise, but it is not designed to do that, but it’s just kind of a byproduct.
[00:07:25] Of, the circuitry of the fridge, right. And some people believe, and I believe that consciousness is the same. It’s a by-product is nothing more than what psychologists call an epi phenomenon, which is, you know, a by-product it’s not the reason. It just happens to be the product of very complex calculations.
[00:07:42] So I’m no believer in consciousness as a sort of a spiritual human, exceptional quality.
[00:07:48]Lance Wantenaar: [00:07:48] Let’s go down that route a bit about consciousness because the whole purpose of consciousness or the background consciousness, especially when it comes to human is the fact that you’re thinking about thinking it’s meta-cognition and in effect, if you take that construct of meta cognition, or thinking about thinking aspect, all you have to do is create routines.
[00:08:08] Algorithms that take into consideration probably to reconsider what it’s doing and in effect that’s what an algorithm does. Especially if you take the go example as an example where it was learning the moves of go as part of the learning process, and then there’s doing iteration. And the reason why it was considered so pure and divine, everything else is because it was not basing its arguments or anything else based on experience and previous play and building up all this knowledge, it was using iterations at high speed.
[00:08:40]It wasn’t judging based on good or bad. It was just saying this can work. I will use this, which meant it was going outside of the. Construct what people were normally used to dealing with. So it was actually in effect, this comes into another interesting aspect, which is bias because people would bias themselves to certain moves or gameplays or structures because it makes them feel comfortable because that algorithm was running outside of basically the bias.
[00:09:05] It was just running through iterations. It could be creative. And that’s where the creative aspect comes in, which is why people thought it was divine. Because it’s so completely outside of their reference that it was like, whoa, how do you do that? But that only comes through the fact that it could iterate through thousand iterations very, very quickly to be able to get to that point.
[00:09:26] So that’s a, you could say interesting take on the whole scenario. I find the, the conscious argument, I think is quite an interesting aspect of the other. Angle on this whole discussion as well. Is that the fact of emotion, what emotion plays in creativity, art, music, everything else.
[00:09:45] Cause that’s what people seek. People seek the emotional connection when it comes to creativity and especially with engagement. And that comes out quite clearly. When you take a look at the whole scenario of lockdown, and what has done to people is that connection is missing. So people have starved of feeling part of something it’s that sensory, etherical part of being part of a view to a group of the tribe, or friends and family, their lack of connection, that feedback is what people crave
[00:10:18] which is what makes it so really difficult for people to deal with it and why people are having mental issues was because they don’t have that sensory feedback, the social engagement, the emotional aspect of it. But that’s my theory on, the whole scheme of things.
[00:10:33] Graham Brown: [00:10:33] Hmm. Yeah. I like the idea that really the, the metacognition is really just a function of complexity, more powerful computation lines of code effectively more ability to think, but not really even thinking just to process data at that level. So that that’s really, I think there’s a lot of feeling of that human beings are somehow exceptional that we are different. We are different, but we aren’t really. Qualitatively different.
[00:11:04] That’s the point? Isn’t it? That we are feeling these emotions that you talk about. Again, they’re not exceptional. They’re really just more complex algorithms inside us. If you think about what these emotions really exist to do, for example, that ability to one is often talked about it’s empathize, you know, empathize with other people.
[00:11:27] Well, it has a very hard black and white case for evolutionary survival. even in the brain, the neurological structure of the brain, we have a group of neurons called mirror neurons, which fire when you and I are doing the same thing. If we’re sort of modeling each other body language, or you’re eating an ice cream and I’m eating an ice cream, you know, that mirror neurons, firing
[00:11:51] and so that makes me feel empathic towards somebody. Now think about what that means in terms of how we acquire language, why we connect with people. If you see somebody being beaten up on the street, or you see those videos when somebody is on a skateboard and they fall off the stairs and you know, and it looks pretty painful, you feel that right?
[00:12:11] You know, the spider crawling up somebody’s shoulder on the movie, you feel it then, you know, you get that sort of hair on your arms, stand up feeling, right. That’s a biological evolutionary function, but it gives us these emotions. And therefore you think about these emotions, they exist for a purpose. And the purpose is there for us to survive and to procreate.
[00:12:32] That’s what we here to do and what we do in the middle of that. It’s really a bonus that just kind of, lengthens the game, if you like. So I think, you know, we need to understand all of this in terms of what the actual function of this all is, you know, emotion, personality, consciousness, they have a very defined role in us as a species, right?
[00:12:52] They’re not the only sort of exceptional spiritual qualities that we have even spirituality. Again, it’s just more of a complex computational algorithm that we have.
[00:13:01]Lance Wantenaar: [00:13:01] Yeah, I think there’s a lot of really interesting discussions that can be had about, where AI is going to go in the future and how it’s going to change things.
[00:13:11]The other thing that I’ve seen recently as I work in cyber security, I deal with fraud. I deal with cyber security investigations. one of the areas, which is quite concerning in certain aspects is the whole deep, fake phenomenon. So for people who are not aware of what deep fake is, it’s where videos are created.
[00:13:29] Let’s say there’s one popular, one of Barrack Obama, and they’ve more or less, re-engineered his voice to say a bunch of phrases with. Obviously or completely untrue. And there’s various ones where people have had edits go out. The first actual software that was created was by Adobe and they created it.
[00:13:49] They did a really, big display. I think it was 2016. Then one of the actors come up and the guy was doing text to speech edits while ago. And he replayed his voice back and it was spot on. Perfect. It was so, so unnerving that they stopped the launch of the software because they thought there were too many risks associated by releasing the software because it could be abused so well, push on a couple of years, a number of people have then taken this and they developed their own libraries.
[00:14:24] That’s where a lot of these translation services are coming in. With Google translate, text to speech translations, but now what they’ve done is they’ve tried to restrict it. So you could only edit and modify your own voice and you can’t do it to somebody else’s voice to restrict the amount of crime that can be used in that can be abused.
[00:14:43] But what’s happened is people have been able to engineer around that. And there’s been a couple of cases where there was one CEO in the UK that got targeted by a text to speech. process where they sent in or requested an invoice to be paid. And it was 250,000 pounds that guy sent to a fraud to the bank account.
[00:15:06] And you said it was a German CEO. Tonality was correct at it was correct. Everything else was correct. I had no idea that this was not the person and that’s quite concerning because it allows for quite a lot of manipulation to come in and, you know, that’s, sometimes that’s something is really, really quite unnerving in certain aspects.
[00:15:28] So what are your takes on that? How do you think AI is going to potentially prevent any of that?
[00:15:33] Graham Brown: [00:15:33] Hm. Whereas certainly making it easier as you say the uK CEO example is fascinating. Isn’t it? That you, these are people you thought would have been very acute to the problem and aware of it. And it’s always the case, isn’t it?
[00:15:47] It’s also those ones that are smart. They get caught out by these things in terms of what it means to us. I would have thought that, we’ve always had a rebalancing. We’ve always had a way of establishing trust. With people and for thousands of years, think of the handshake as the most obvious example that’s been around since Roman times, if not before, you know, it was the act of the open hand to show that you weren’t armed.
[00:16:11]And even that word upper hand came from that idea when two soldiers would meet and they would shake hands and whoever had the upper hand had the advantage. So, handshakes are really those tokens that we use to measure trust between authenticate between people, right? And just the same way that we do that in the world of security, we have tokens to authenticate our interactions, right?
[00:16:34] And we’ve been doing that as human beings for thousands of years. So the point is, is now that the landscape has changed, we will need to find other ways to authenticate our interactions with each otheryou know, what are the emotional handshakes that even the physical handshake is going away as an option? now it’s the fist bump.
[00:16:53] If you have any physical contact now in business, very people are very cautious about shaking hands because of what’s happened in the last 18 months. So what will happen is people will place increasing emphasis on the very non fakeable aspects of interaction. So that’s why you’re seeing on the one hand AI pushing into, and co-opting much of our interaction, in the nefarious ways like you’re talking about, and the less, the more innocuous ways I should say, like for example, the gaming of algorithms on social media.
[00:17:24]So what, that’s going to do is kind of force us to find better ways of authenticating as human to human. Uh, one of those is that we’ll push into and place an increasing premium on non fakeable communication. And yes, we can fake voice very easily now, but it’s still, within that narrow band of transaction.
[00:17:48] There’s no way that a bot could sit and have this conversation. Now there’s no way that you could do it at that kind of level of complexity within what we know. And almost, it wouldn’t have that vulnerability that a machine is designed not to have to make mistakes. Right. Which is what you pick up on, you know, the stammers and the mistakes and that sort of humanness.
[00:18:10] So we will price an increasing premium. And that’s why all around us in society now. we’re talking about authenticity, it’s everywhere. It’s because of machine learning. It’s because of AI, we’re talking about what is the CEO’s views on climate change because of AI, because of machine learning, because we want to know who are the human beings or for these brands and these organizations.
[00:18:31] So that is the manifestation. If you like, of all of that. Yes. AI may help in identifying who the crooks are and these give us more tools, but there will be a very human element that will increasingly value. And that’s going to be interesting. Those are the emotional handshakes, if you like. And that’s why we’re seeing a boom in podcasting because of that,
[00:18:53]Lance Wantenaar: [00:18:53] this ties into, I think, one of your key areas, which is basically stories.
[00:18:59] So do you think that the reason why storytelling works so well is because it ties a lot of these concepts together and it provides a way of the way I see it as context, because storytelling provides context for any person. I mean, if you had to tell you. Any story, fable nursery, you arrive with anything of that nature.
[00:19:21] There’s a story built into it. And it’s got a lot of subtle context to it. It’s got a lot of additional information that’s wrapped up in the story, which allows people to experience it as if they know it. So what’s your. Reason for really going into the story side of things in the ability to tell a story for authenticity in this regard.
[00:19:43] Graham Brown: [00:19:43] Yeah. Storytelling is what we as human beings do really well. And it’s actually what differentiates us from every other animal. We’re the only storytelling animal. And if you think about why we tell stories, what if you trace it back evolutionarily? That there was a point in our history as a species where we needed to evolve faster than the hardware.
[00:20:06] So, you know, animals, dogs will inherit behaviors from their parents, right. And their parents, parents, parents, parents, and so on. And to some extent in, in human beings that exist as well, reflexes and so on. But that iteration that small generation by generation improvement. It’s slow. Yes, you can go from a single cell amoeba to a wonderful human being in millions and millions of years.
[00:20:32] But if you wanted to evolve faster, if you wanted, for example, as a species to move from cold climates to warm climates, you couldn’t rely on your biological evolution. So we needed a software and that’s where storytelling came in. Storytelling. It’s like the cloud of our learning. We put all our information into the cloud away from our physical nature.
[00:20:52] And so I can hand it down to my kids and my kids’ kids’ kids. If I make a tool, I don’t have to wait to the next generation randomly make that tool again. I can pass that knowledge down and I can paint on a cave wall the movement of animals and teach people where to find. Watering holes or the Buffalo and so on, and that’s what we’ve been doing.
[00:21:10] And that’s why we decoupled from our evolutionary hard frame if you like with storytelling. And so therefore we have a species have become very hard, wired and receptive to storytelling because other species can’t do it. And it’s enabled us to rapidly accelerate our progress over the last a hundred thousand years as storytelling.
[00:21:29] Animals. And therefore that’s a unique quality of humans and it’s what we do. And it really it’s what differentiates us from machines as well, because ultimately the story that we tell is a function of the storyteller. As well, I think about art, for example, how important the artist’s story is to that art, you’ve seen those videos where they give like a paint brush to a monkey or elephant and it paints something like a Jackson Pollock.
[00:21:54] It’s not worth a Jackson Pollock. Right? because That monkey, the elephant didn’t have the story of a Jackson Pollock right. Of him. And therefore that creates the value. Talk about context. Everything is created. The value is created through context, the frame, literally of everything that we understand in the world
[00:22:12]Lance Wantenaar: [00:22:12] in essence culture.
[00:22:14] And Cultural development is also part of this whole story, because if you take a look at each nation and you’ve got the tribes, you’ve got all of the different, areas of a country, let’s say for India, U S UK, you’ve got smaller forms of cultural was in, in the national sphere.
[00:22:31]So each one has got their own story, their language, their context, they frame. How they develop and how they pass on their knowledge. So culture is another way of telling stories and passing on knowledge thats a way, that allowed people to become, a lot more successful and survival improves survival is because the culture, character stories, and encapsulates a lot of the information to procreate, spread the news and the message and, you know, The ideas and the concept.
[00:22:58] So that’s a, that’s another, I think take on storytelling for me, there’s a lot of correlation between the two.
[00:23:06] Graham Brown: [00:23:06] Yeah. You’re absolutely right. Culture is stories. It’s actually nothing more because we’re, where is the tangible aspect of culture? Yeah. Exist. It doesn’t exist. It only exists in our conversations.
[00:23:17] Right. And it’s constantly evolving. Look, for example, now about all the fuss made in the UK about statues of Cecil Rhodes. So important. I mean, you know, you know that part of the world, you know, what went on down there as well, and you know, how those stories were told in different ways, you know, the school boy stories of.
[00:23:38] The Brits going to Africa and you know how it was, it was told in a way, but that was our culture and look at how it’s being redefined. And in years to come, they’ll think differently of Cecil Rhodes and what he did, maybe it will be less heroic. Maybe people will be more reflective about it, but that’s the point it evolves and it changes it.
[00:23:57] Isn’t tangible. It’s exactly through the stories that we tell each other and how people, you know, some people gain control of that narrative and they change it and they rewrite history. And in George Orwell’s style, they rewrite reality and therefore culture is stories, whether it’s in companies or countries.
[00:24:16]Lance Wantenaar: [00:24:16] So what makes a good story then?
[00:24:18]Graham Brown: [00:24:18] Yeah. I mean, that’s a really interesting question. we all know a good story when we hear it. Don’t we, it’s almost like, yeah, that kind of feels right. And if you look at the work of, I don’t know if you know, Joseph Campbell. He’s a writer who wrote these.
[00:24:33] He wrote two pieces of work, which are really interesting people who are listeners are interested in storytelling. He wrote the hero’s journey and the hero, the hero with a thousand faces. You’re probably familiar with the hero’s journey and, that’s a classic and it basically lays out that stories for thousands of years are pretty much adopted.
[00:24:52]The set patterns, a classic example is the scene in the movie where they leave their hometown and they go on the adventure. They have to cross there’s actually. Uh, a scene in the movie or the book is called the crossing the departure. And in Lord of the rings, he crosses, they crossed the river and note of what it is in star wars and Harry Potter has it going on the train and then Avengers has it.
[00:25:15] And so these stories have been told for thousands of years and these very familiar. Narratives. And if you look at the Avengers, as an example in game, make $3 billion in the box office. And I saw it twice. I’ve got a 15 year old kid and he said, four times are these mates. I was like twice as enough, but I’ve seen it before.
[00:25:37] I’ve seen, this is, this is Lord of the rings. This is star wars. This is every myth ever being told. And that was the point. That was the realization that actually a good story. It doesn’t have to be fantastic. It doesn’t have to be new. In fact, the best stories are ones we’ve already heard because when you tell that story, it just goes straight to the subconscious.
[00:25:57] Oh yeah. I know this story. I know this is the hero. This is the bad guy. That’s the magical object. This is the scene where he gets rejected. This is the scene where he has to pass through. This is the scene where the da and he comes home. And when it fits that narrative framework, then we feel that this story is a good story, you know, when it fits it and when it doesn’t fit, I’m not sure about this story.
[00:26:20]So it’s all about using narratives that already exist. And that’s why I say if people want to become a really good storyteller study stories, cause they all pretty much look the same.
[00:26:29]Lance Wantenaar: [00:26:29] Yeah. The difficult thing about stories is. Making sure you tie the unknown with some of the known aspect and the blog posts that you wrote about, how Churchill was very good at connecting the stories together.
[00:26:44] I found that really interesting because he was able to encapsulate. This whole aspect of the known where the unknown is able to convey the emotional aspects of the story and how it connects to people. I think that’s the value of probably a really good story has got to resonate with people in a way.
[00:27:03] And you’ve got to find a way of connecting to people in a way that makes them feel engaged because that’s the whole purpose of a story is to engage somebody. You can have a really terrible story, but as engaging people don’t really mind about the story because it gives them escape. It gives them things to think about.
[00:27:21]And there’s sometimes there’s a lot of subtle lessons that can be inferred into a story if it’s done in the right way. And that’s why you’ve got some stories that endure of the thousands of years. And I carried on the conscious and doesn’t matter where you go, people resonate with that story because it’s something as almost visceral.
[00:27:41] They connect with it on an emotional level, which again comes back to emotions because stories are about evoking emotions, about imagery. It’s about sensory perception. It’s about that, you know, those things that make people feel unique and make some feel engaged in the world and also makes them feel.
[00:27:59] Like they experiencing something because that’s what you want to do with a good story. It evokes emotions and about senses that makes you feel alive. It gives you hope or, triggers all of these emotions and make people feel alive. And every given day. Mm
[00:28:15]Graham Brown: [00:28:15] great storytellers know that. But Churchill where you mentioned, I, I, somebody wrote about Churchill that he, his gift was he put the English language to war, something like that.
[00:28:25] I paraphrase it that, you know, he was a great orator, but on the other side, so was Hitler. These were great origin. They knew these even Steve jobs or great leaders, John F. Kennedy, people who have really. Moved people in both good and evil and not don’t believe in good and evil, but good and bad ways that they know humans, especially large groups of humans, very responsive at the subconscious level two myth, two avatars.
[00:28:58]You know, we, we are very fearful. You talk about the unknown. We’re very fearful of the unknown and therefore, Donald Trump is very good at playing on that . He knew what people were scared of and he knew how to trigger that. Now that makes him a great storyteller. Not saying that’s a good thing, but that’s the reality that it shows you talking about the engaging part that what people engage with is that myth that these pathways that have been around for thousands of years in college,
[00:29:23]Lance Wantenaar: [00:29:23] Yeah, there’s something else that you mentioned, which I thought was really interesting is short form stories and the fact that how you can encapsulate a lot of information in a short form story. So what’s your take on a short form story?
[00:29:37] Graham Brown: [00:29:37] Yeah. A lot of people think storytelling’s once upon a time, but sometimes the most powerful stories are short form.
[00:29:43] Meaning a word oryou know, a sentence. Steve jobs is most classic examples. When he launched the iPod, he didn’t call it the world’s best MP3 player and proceed, you know, with a presentation. He just said, it’s a tool for the heart, the tool for the heart. It’s beautiful. that’s a short form story.
[00:29:58] Flattening. The curve is a short form story. even your t-shirt Spartan beast, it’s a short form. He tells me about you. You know, here’s a guy who likes doing Spartan races spot in itself is a story. Isn’t it? It’s a short form. When you think of spot and you think of 300 and those crazy guys who from the age of seven, went to training camps to fight war, sort of stoic mentality, all that short form, it’s a shortcut, that helps us under a label that helps us understand very complex ideas.
[00:30:30]Lance Wantenaar: [00:30:30] The other thing I was thinking about short form or any kind of story is there’s that metaphors are built into them. And that’s something which I think is very unique to people because it encapsulates a lot of information within a metaphor that allows you to track. Hmm. That’s why metaphors are used heavily in stories because it allows for information to be almost bundled into the whole story.
[00:30:57] And it provides context of provides pre-framing. It allows for all of these thinking concepts to be carried across and it gets all of those subtleties built into it, which I think is a really. Unique skill and ability to have that is to be able to use metaphors in a way that makes storytelling very engaging.
[00:31:17]And I think it’s going to be a sad day when the gets to a point where somebody could use their writing, an algorithm that can use metaphors in conveying information. It’s not, it’s not impossible and it’s not improbable. Whether it’s unlikely. I don’t know, but I think the rate that knowledge development is going it’s.
[00:31:39] It could be something there that could be looked into, but again, if you actually understand what the function of a metaphor is, it’s very possible to conceptualize it.
[00:31:49]Graham Brown: [00:31:49] Well, the extremely powerful, without a doubt, like leaders know this in storytelling using use of metaphors and great marketing. CEOs anybody that wants to influence people uses metaphors.
[00:32:00]You go back to the Bible. I’m not religious, but you know, I was brought up like most parents to read this stuff. The fishers of men, Jesus would tell the disciples is it to go and fish for men because they were fishermen and that’s a metaphor, right. That was like using what people understand and connecting it to the unknown.
[00:32:17]That’s what metaphors and stories do. And really what storytellers do is they connect the known experience to the unknown future. And therefore that’s why we follow them because they help us make sense of the future and they help us make sense of the unknown. And that’s why we say flattening the curve helps us make sense of the unknown.
[00:32:34]It gives it familiarity and we don’t like the unknown. That’s why they’re extremely powerful. Because you can connect a, to B and your choice of connection. Can I have complete yeah. And outcomes, right? You can connect somebody to, this unknown person to any experience that somebody had for good and bad.
[00:32:51] You know, you think about how that plays in the context of prejudice, how the context of, In positive outcomes as well. So that’s the power of metaphors and the very, very subtle thing. For example, the most, if people want to understand what a metaphor is, think of traffic lights, right? Red, Amber Green.
[00:33:07]That’s pretty universal. Like your point about the car. Globally. I don’t know any country that doesn’t have that system. So let’s say 7 billion people in the world are familiar with traffic lights. That’s a metaphor. Right. And the interesting, when they launched traffic lights, they based it on railway lights, train lights, they had the same system on the train tracks.
[00:33:26]Yeah. When they introduced it, they had to have a system that worked for millions of people. They couldn’t have people like, oh, what’s these lights on the road, like bomb, crash, too late. They needed quick decisions. And so the traffic light was effectively a metaphor for what came before it was using the familiar, connecting it to the unknown.
[00:33:45]And that’s what good storytellers know how to do is how do you get people to behave in a certain way using what they know already.
[00:33:52]Lance Wantenaar: [00:33:52] If you look into the whole traffic light example, because it’s a very good point. If you think about it, the lights that they use, the fact that they’ve got red, Amber Green, are really quite interesting because people inherently know red is bad.
[00:34:07] Stop red is warning. So initially it was very quickly to identify or associate that. They behavior. But the other thing that it does, it programs behavior in people because people invariably know that red is a dangerous signal because it either means something’s ripe and healthy and it’s used as a sign of virility.
[00:34:28] But most of the time it’s used as a warning that something’s gone wrong or there’s something is dangerous. Amber tends to be that, in-between state where it’s like, okay, It’s not quite dangerous, but you need to be aware of it. I think green, obviously signifies health virility growth, and being able to, grow and develop.
[00:34:47] So it’s, there’s a lot of subtle concepts that all buit in to just the symbolism of using those three colors as well. Absolutely.
[00:34:56] Graham Brown: [00:34:56] That’s a good point. We didn’t use words. Did they or numbers interestingly? They could have had stop. Right. And even the stop signs are right as well. Right. So that’s what we actually see.
[00:35:08] Yeah. I hadn’t thought about it in context of colors, but that makes complete sense. That’s like the meta metaphor, if you like another level, but
[00:35:18]Lance Wantenaar: [00:35:18] that again comes down to, I think when they first looked at lights, What made them look at it and say, I’ll use these three colors. Where was that connection coming from now?
[00:35:29] That would be an interesting
[00:35:31] Graham Brown: [00:35:31] story. And how would that evolve? Right. So it must’ve started just with the red light at the beginning though, when that, and that must’ve just been like the lamp that they held up, you know, the, gas light or that candle. So it must’ve been something that. That’s where it came from.
[00:35:45] Originally. Interestingly in Japan, they still call the green light blue strangely. Yeah. Well the, the original traffic lights, they had a blue light for green, but even like, you can speak to Japanese people when they say. Like red amber green they say, if you’re driving and they say, oh, the, the, the light is green, as you would say in English or any other language in Japanese even though it’s green, they’ll say the light is blue.
[00:36:08]So it’s funny how those concepts stick, even though it’s there right in front of you. Right.
[00:36:13]Lance Wantenaar: [00:36:13] Is there some sort of cultural significance was blue being associated with going
[00:36:18] Graham Brown: [00:36:18] I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s just a, it’s just a strange Galapagos phenomenon, I guess. Right. It comes from living on an island. Yeah. I don’t know that, that story, that’s a
[00:36:30] Lance Wantenaar: [00:36:30] cultural carry over, which I think is really interesting.
[00:36:34]And that’s, again, makes for an interesting story because that changes your context because now the novelty aspect makes it unusual. Cause now you’re more concerned about why is blue being used? You’re not even talking about the story anymore. Not talking about the traffic lights is like why blue?
[00:36:51] What makes blue so significant? And that’s the thing. What story does is that triggers conversations, that triggers interest and you’ve, got to have that shift from the known to something which is completely unused. That makes you so like
[00:37:05]how did that happen?
[00:37:06]And that’s the way I think a story has got a lot of real value to it is that it shifts that whole perspective because the changes context, just a subtle amount that you look at it and think, well, that’s.
[00:37:18]And suddenly you stopped, became a really engaged with and interested. Now we can almost probably spend half an hour talking to us about the fact that blue is being used in Japan for traffic lights or a reference to the traffic
[00:37:29] Graham Brown: [00:37:29] It’s the rabbit hole.
[00:37:29] art it does that, doesn’t it like art.
[00:37:33] It doesn’t have any real physical value at all, but I’m sure if you collect art, most people do it because they enjoy it. But because it creates stories, you show it to a friend. And you say, oh, this is the new painting that I have or this photo. And it starts a conversation, right. Even though you might be looking at a square or some impression, that’s the point, it creates conversation.
[00:37:55]And that creates connection
[00:37:57] Lance Wantenaar: [00:37:57] yeah.
[00:37:57] A really good example of somebody who that generates stories is Banksy. Yeah. For people not familiar with Banksy. Banksy is a street artist in the UK. And what makes him unique is nobody really knows who he is. nobody’s been able to publicly identifying him. And he’s got a lot of visibility because he creates story with the street art and, , people that paint painted street art, or that have these streets or bought street
[00:38:25] Lance Wantenaar: [00:38:25] pay thousands if not millions for him, because he creates a whole story with it. But he’s incredibly good about looking and changing the context of the stories. You know, the child’s with, with a balloon, the rat there’s a very popular well-known. One was rats. One that he did during lockdown as a bunch of rats in a toilet, you create a whole story within that frame.
[00:38:48]I think that’s the important aspect is about making sure. You’ve got a frame for the story and keeping it within that frame because otherwise you lose your audience, you lose the uniqueness of the whole engagement aspect
[00:38:59] of it.
[00:39:00] Graham Brown: [00:39:00] Well, think about also how important he is to that story. Now, if you took Banksy, for example, if you saw a picture of it right on the wall, on.
[00:39:08]Some random building in your town. The first thing people would want to know, is it a Banksy? Now, the fact that it is a Banksy, doesn’t actually change that the art itself, not at all it’s done, but if it’s a Banksy, if it’s confirmed as often, what follows in the media, if it’s confirmed as a Banksy, then suddenly it becomes.
[00:39:28] A story suddenly it becomes a valuable, you know, that counsel come out and put the glass in front of it preserve even though otherwise, normally it’ll be graffiti. Right? That’s the irony. It completely redefines the context by the storyteller. And that’s really important because it’s just like, going back to the music is you don’t actually care so much about the sound you care about.
[00:39:50] Who’s creating the sound. And that’s what the engagement part is, is that we engage with the storyteller, the creator of this art, of this music or these books. That’s, what’s really important. So, you know, think about that value in that context.
[00:40:05]Lance Wantenaar: [00:40:05] I think we can have another in-depth conversation about value in storytelling, because again, there’s that another rabbit hole we can go down there, but the other interesting.
[00:40:14]Connection with, AI and thinking and brain processing information. You get a lot of metacognition that bolt into a story. And, it allows for all of the subtle information to be carried along. an interesting thing about any story. As you’ve mentioned it before each person can interpret the story differently.
[00:40:34]That’s what makes I think stories incredibly valuable because you can have the same book that’s read by the same person across 10 years. They can interpret that story differently because of personal experience and because how they’ve lived their life. Give that same book to somebody else. They’ll either see no value in it, or they’ll see a completely different interpretation.
[00:40:53] But the mainstay of the story can carry across, but the interpretation is completely different, which is an interesting concept.
[00:41:01] Graham Brown: [00:41:01] You see that a lot of music don’t you? That when, when the musician is quizzed about what the lyrics mean, the smart ones know that actually there is no answer. It’s up to you to decide.
[00:41:12] In fact, the best songs are a little bit vague. Aren’t they, they leave a lot to interpretation. You listened to the Beatles. For example, it’s very vague. A lot of it, especially the ones that Lennon wrote and when quizzed about it, they would often say to some effect, that’s up to you to decide, because if they told you this is exactly what it means, same with art.
[00:41:33] If you tell you this is exactly what it means. Where does it leave space for you to tell your story with this art, with this music? And so people have their own interpretations and I think that’s what a clever storyteller does. Leave that space. Yeah.
[00:41:45]Lance Wantenaar: [00:41:45] I think it’s a, it’s a lot of really interesting questions and perspectives that can come out from, from all of this.
[00:41:54] So Graham, tell us what’s next on your plate. What’s your next kind of big thing that you’re going to be doing apart from your agency that you’re working on. Do you have any books or anything else that you’re working on? I’ve just done an interview with you on your XL live stream, which was good. Fun. what else have you got yourself invovled in?
[00:42:11] Graham Brown: [00:42:11] Well, I’m a big fan of audio as you know, as you are as well. And so, I want to, Take a snapshot of where we are in the world of audio. So I’m writing a book called the age of audio, which is really about the golden age of audio. Ironically, it’s the second golden age of audio because the 1920s was said to be the first age of audio, you know, and interestingly that followed the, the age of radio, the golden age of radio followed the
[00:42:39] automation followed the, pandemic that hit in 1918. And where are we today? A world of automation and pandemics. So we’re seeking this need to connect again through audio. So I want to document that I want to go beyond simply. This is a podcast and this is what podcast do I want to really understand?
[00:42:56] Why is there an explosion in social audio? Why is Spotify one of the hottest ticket items out there? Why is Facebook investing in audio? Why clubhouse, why LinkedIn, et cetera, et cetera, and really understand that. What is that in our human soul that makes us really connect with audio. And that’s a book I’m writing at the moment and it’s, it’s an expert interview series.
[00:43:16] People who are shaping the world of audio in their own ways. And I would like to. Document our time. And so people couldn’t look back on it and say, oh yeah, that’s when it all happened.
[00:43:25]Lance Wantenaar: [00:43:25] Sounds fantastic. When’s that? So
[00:43:27] planned to come out,
[00:43:29]ask me again in three months, book writing. I mean, yeah. I have published books before, so I know that it tends to be an exponential curve as you get closer to launch, it gets further away.
[00:43:39]So. It let’s just say soon. So if somebody is listening to this in a couple of years, time, it still might be soon. You see? So
[00:43:47] getting the story
[00:43:51] Yeah. Graham. I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much for being on the interview. It was a fantastic discussion and hopefully it was
[00:44:00]Graham Brown: [00:44:00] loved it.
[00:44:01] Some interesting views. Yeah its good, uh, obviously for people who are listening to this, make sure you listen to your podcasts and also connect with Graham if they want to interview you. And, your website is grahambrown.com deep brown
[00:44:18] D Grahamdbrown, the other one is a, is a wallpaper website.
[00:44:26] Lance Wantenaar: [00:44:26] Okay. Grahamdbrown. So I’ll put all of that in the show notes and also how people can get ahold of you, but thanks a lot for
[00:44:33] Graham Brown: [00:44:33] being on the show
[00:44:34] Thank you. I really enjoyed it. And I loved the questions as well.
[00:44:37]Lance Wantenaar: [00:44:37] Yeah. Have a good day.