This podcast brings Steve Jobs back to life, thanks to AI

In a free-wheeling conversation with Joe Rogan, Jobs talks about Microsoft, Adobe, and much more.
Ameya Paleja
Steve Jobs displays on Apple products stock photo.
Steve Jobs displays on Apple products stock photo.

Waseef/iStock 

If there was anything that could make a case for how far Artificial intelligence (AI) has come, it would be the ability to converse with the dead. Podcast.ai is a platform that aims to demonstrate this week after week with its in-depth interviews, which began with no one other than Steve Jobs.

The episode does begin with a big disclaimer that the entire conversation has been generated by AI. The podcast maker also taps into the expertise of play.ht, which, according to its webpage, gives one the option of 907 ultra-realistic voices to choose from.

Podcast.ai states that they chose Jobs for their first project due to his impact on the technology world and how he continues to inspire people, much after his death too.

What can one expect in the podcast?

The near 20-minute audio interview is a free-wheeling chat between the AI-powered Rogan and Jobs, both of who seem to have bursts of cynical laughs at the beginning of the episode for no specific reason.

After Rogan shares the joy of having one of the best minds of the technology world on the show, the man who gave us the Mac, the conversation very quickly moves to Jobs' past when he was a Reed College for a brief period and his journey through India seeking enlightenment and studying Zen Buddhism.

Jobs has many good things to say about the Indian subcontinent and how, as a culture has given so much to civilization, including the art of storytelling. Jobs highlights an Indian epic which is "ten times as long as the Iliad," before moving on to how his journey through India helped him learn the true meaning and purpose of the cosmos.

Unsurprisingly for a Joe Rogan podcast, the conversation steers towards the mind-altering drug, LSD, and Jobs' experience with it. However, after speaking of his profound experience while using LSD the first time, Jobs also stresses how his mind was expecting wonders from subsequent uses, fading the experience, which made him stop using it.

The episode is littered with references to Macintosh and how his company Apple is not about creating new "world-changing" products but about using the process of innovation to keep improving them for the user. Jobs laments about the absence of "aesthetic sense" at Microsoft since the people who founded the company were "mathematicians and scientists who don't understand how people want to experience things."

The podcast also provides Job's view on what kind of company Adobe is and what is needed to fix it. Jobs compares Adobe products to selling the users "a quarter of a car," which needs to be fixed on priority. He admires their Digital Hub move but thinks there are too many people working on it.

Jobs heaped praises on Google for having the same "innovation-focused processes" but also said that he did not see any company that came close to Apple in replicating it. The need to keep improving existing products is what keeps Jobs motivated, the Apple co-founder states in the podcast.

Jobs is also of the view that the advancements in computing are already seeing people out of work, and yet, one shouldn't be afraid to throw a computer out of a window, even if it were a Mac.

What to make of such interviews?

While it does seem like quite a long interview spanning a wide range of topics, the information that comes through is what is available in the public domain. Podcast.ai states on its webpage that the AI was trained on Jobs' biography and the online recordings available online.

While these might be great starting points for someone who doesn't know much about Jobs, his greatest admirers will see the lack of any insights that a real Jobs talk would have had.

Podcast.ai is seeking suggestions from people on whom they want to hear from next and on what topic. This might work well for a public figure like Jobs or a President of a country, but the AI would have little to train upon if you wanted your dead grandparent to talk to you about the joys of life.

So, as grand as it sounds, these experiments need to be taken with a pinch of salt. AI might now be able to reach new lengths of conversations, but we should know when it needs to be scrapped, just like Jobs would do with his Mac.

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