How to Investing in Technology, AI, America’s Future – Kevin Surace – Interviews of Notables & Influencers by Joanne Z. Tan

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Kevin Surace on how to invest in technlogy (pain points, market timing, convenience), climate change, the future of US, his personal brand.

Based on the interviewee Kevin Surace’s self-description, Joanne Z. Tan, branding and brand marketing expert, described Kevin’s personal brand as: “A Renaissance Man with Purpose”.

Joanne Z. Tan 0:00
I am honored to have very talented Kevin Surace from Silicon Valley today for the “Interviews of Notables and Influencers”. Kevin is a Silicon Valley innovator, serial entrepreneur, CEO, TV personality, and an “edutainer”, educator plus entertainer, all combined. Kevin has been featured by Business Week Time, Fortune, Forbes, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, and has keynoted hundreds of events. from Inc 5000, to Ted, to the US Congress. He was Inc Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, a CNBC top Innovator of the decade, World Economic Forum tech pioneer, chair of Silicon Valley Forum, featured for five years on tech TV Silicon Spin.

Joanne Z. Tan 0:57
While he has a technical background with 93 worldwide patents, (and we’re going to ask you whether those are all under your name or co-owned,) Mr. Surace has pioneered work in the first cellular data smartphones, the first plastic multi chip semiconductor packages, the first human like AI virtual assistant, soundproof drywall, high R-value windows, AI driven building management technology, AI driven quality assurance, automation, and window retrofits of the Empire State Building and the New York Stock Exchange, for saving energy.

Joanne Z. Tan 1:40
Kevin is also an accomplished music director, conductor, Broadway show musical producer, and the percussionist. He is actively developing high quality digital theater, virtual musical entertainment using green screen studios and advanced digital designs. (And I’ll ask about that later.) Kevin is currently CTO of, which has developed groundbreaking AI based autonomous software testing in a SaaS platform. He is also involved with companies addressing AI and robotics, and automation, QA, security, IoT, and sustainability and sleep tech.

Joanne Z. Tan 2:26
As a branding expert, I’m Joanne Tan, CEO of 10 Plus Brand Inc., a full service brand building, content creation, digital marketing, SEO company. We are recognized as one of the top digital marketing agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area. So I can’t help Branding Kevin, as of now, as “A Renaissance Man in a Renaissance Age”.

Joanne Z. Tan 2:51
Okay, first question.

Tell me about your personal story, your journey about why, what, how you get to be where you are today, Kevin?

Kevin Surace's invention, the air communicator flight, a cellular data phone from Silicon Valley Startup in the early 1990s in California. (mobile phone)
Kevin Surace’s invention, the air communicator flight, a cellular data phone from Silicon Valley Startup in the early 1990s in California.

Kevin Surace 3:04
Well, thank you for that amazing intro. Joanne, sadly, you used up the entire hour. So No, I’m kidding. So Well, that’s a great question. Look, I was born in upstate New York, m dad worked for GE. I was around electronics, the whole, you know, my entire while I grew up, and I went to Rochester Institute of Technology, with a double-e degree and came to Silicon Valley. And I came to Silicon Valley because it is absolutely the land of great opportunity and technology, there is no better place in the world to develop technology than Silicon Valley. And I quickly found myself I started the semiconductor industry, but quickly found myself doing a startup at age 29 or so. And, and that was a smart cellular data phone called AirCommunicator.And that was back in the early 90s. So we were very early, there was no internet yet you had to talk to BBS (Bulletin Board System) if you remember what those are, and AOL and Compuserve and things like that. But and then I got the bug for that. I got the bug for starting companies and inventing things. Can I say more than that?

Kevin Surace 4:16

I know, you mentioned all the patents. I have tried to wake up every morning, … not every morning, but many mornings and say, there is a pain point. There’s a serious pain point that humanity is facing. How could technology address that? And I don’t care. And you can see across my patents, there’s building materials, which we can talk about, which is really fun. There’s sleep technologies, body technology, there’s obviously SaaS and software, there’s hardware. So I don’t look at any of those as a barrier. I say there’s a problem. I can see the problem. People face this problem. How can we solve it, and I think great companies and great inventions start with a pain point. They don’t start with a solution.

Kevin Surace 4:59
I know Joanne, in your business, you see this all the time, companies bring you in, you go: this is a great solution, I don’t know what it solves?  No problem, but it’s a wonderful solution. And that’s the bane of a lot of startups. They have a great solution looking for a problem.

Joanne Z. Tan 5:14
Yes, right. I totally agree with that. Okay. Are you the holder of all these 97 patents? Or are you co-owning…

Kevin Surace 5:22
93. So most patents, as you know, even if you start a company, technically belong to the company, when you’re done. Like you invented it, your name is the lead inventor, you might bring others on, but you give those to the company, you have to give those to the company. That’s part of your intellectual property agreement when you join a company, right? Even if it’s a company you founded, ultimately bringing investors and you know, the company takes ownership of those patents. So then you know, the vast majority of them are owned by companies or were sold, like all of the patents on voice user interface design and technology, which was the predecessor to Siri, if you go back into the late 90s. These were done in General Magic. I built the team that did that, I was the lead inventor on virtually all of these patents. They ultimately got sold and Nathan Myhrvold and Nathan, and intellectual ventures licensed them to Apple and Google and Microsoft and everybody else who’s in the voice user interface business or the artificial intelligent business… not artificial intelligence, artificial helper, will say right, like a Siri.

Joanne Z. Tan 6:23
OK, still very impressive. Okay.

Among all the things you have done, what are your most important and most proud of?

Kevin Surace 6:36
I’m most proud of marrying my lovely wife, Erica. Everyone should be proud when they have a great partner in life in all aspects of their life. Look, I am very proud of some of the music productions and that I’ve been involved in on a national level, writing and conducting one show called “2AM at the Sands“, another one is “Broadway and More”. So I love that, very proud of the art side of what we do.

Kevin Surace at Empire State, how to invest in technology (pain points, market timing, convenience), climate change, the future of US, his personal brand.
Kevin Surace at Empire State, how to invest in technology (pain points, market timing, convenience), climate change, the future of US, his personal brand.

Kevin Surace 7:08
I’m also, from a technology standpoint, which probably more people are interested in, of all of the software and hardware technologies I developed I’m probably most proud of some of the building technology things that I got to work on including the invention of soundproof drywall and, high R-value windows, high r-value windows. We retrofitted the Empire State Building, did it in just about five months, reused all the glass in the building, took it out, cleaned it all on the fifth floor, built a factory, put it all back up and increase the resistance to heat flow or increase the insulation from R two to R eight. So a 400% increase. Those windows pay back in under three years. And they’re still on the Empire State Building today. So that’s it. I mean, you have to be proud it’s the Empire State Building.


Kevin Surace 7:57
I think obviously you can be proud of all the work for, you know, that predated Siri because nobody had done that kind of work before our system was called Portico, the the female’s name was Mary, was actually her name in real life by the way, and she’s absolutely fantastic person to work with. So it was her voice that you would hear we had millions of people on that system so I’m proud of that. And then lastly I’d say I’ll pick one more is soundproof drywall because that was really a pain point. It started with recording studios but it turned out multifamily homes and hotels and all of that when you can hear the people in the room next to you is not only a problem, people sue if they bought that condo and they can hear the people next to them, so we invented a drywall that was virtually soundproof and people said it couldn’t be done. But it can be done and it’s become you know, just a billion dollar seller now over many many years, and so over the last 20 years or so, and so I’m… every hotel that you go into, that’s new uses soundproof drywall, every condo, anything has been built in the last 10-15 years uses soundproof drywall.

Joanne Z. Tan 9:09
Wonderful. Failure is the mother of success.

What are the most profound “failures” that you have learned from, that you’d like to share with the world?

Kevin Surace 9:21
Great job, well, look, as much as I’m proud of soundproof drywall, windows and all that was all done at a company called Serious Materials, but Serious Materials was writing its S-1, had its bankers, and was ready to go public in 2010, 2011, in that era, and then that materials and clean tech space sort of blew up on Wall Street and all the banks got rid of all their clean tech people, all their sustainable people at that moment in time. Right. This is 10 years ago. And so we had this amazing public offering that was going to be a billion dollar plus, you know, market cap on day One. And all of a sudden, we had no outlet for a public offering, we would have to eventually raise some money or whatever. And we ended up selling the company to actually five different companies, we split the company up and sold it. But and while it got sold for decent money, it was nowhere near what it could have gone public for and today had that been a public company with the revenue that all those divisions that got split up are doing, it probably over $10 billion.

Kevin Surace 9:24
So we came this close, and it shows you certainly in Silicon Valley, but in others, everything has to go right, for sale to happen, for an acquisition to happen, for a public offering to happen. You know, we didn’t have SPACs then. That with a SPAC, you could get away with not everything’s right, you still take it out. But with a real IPO, you know, the market had to be primed, and the market had to be ready, and there had to be no negative situations in the rest of the market. And bankers had to be in place. And you just there’s sort of everything. And IPO windows open, and then they just shut. And when they shut for an industry they could shut for years. And when it shuts for years, and you were ready to go public, it just destroys all your plans. Right? And we were nearing profitability very successful company had 500 employees, six plants. So you know, very proud we got to that point. But had we gotten to that point, just one month sooner, we would have been successful. But we failed in that outcome for our investors, and we fail for our investors, we failed for our employees. I was the CEO, falls on my back. I missed that timing. And we should have, we should have been there just a little sooner. So while the products continue to be a, you know, a multibillion dollar success, we didn’t have the success we we could have had.

Joanne Z. Tan 11:41
Okay, well, thank you for that candidness, the sharing the lessons, because actually those learning lessons are going to be helping a lot of entrepreneurs.

So you invest in startups, any unicorns? And what made you spot them as the unicorns before they become successful?

Kevin Surace 12:00
Yeah. Well, the the biggest unicorn, most recent unicorn that I invested in, I invested in about 10 years ago, at 40 cents a share in their seed round, was the very first set of investors for small seed round. And then it went public. And it’s hanging around $230 or $240 today up from 40 cents, that was Coinbase. And so Coinbase was an excellent investment. And we got very, very lucky. So why did I invest in Coinbase? Well, here’s the answer. I could not tell 10 years ago, whether Bitcoin or any other coin or any other cryptocurrency would necessarily be successful, or how to pick the ones that would be successful. But I didn’t know there had to be an exchange to exchange them, you had to get dollars out of them at some point. And so it was a little bit like investing in the California Gold Rush, don’t invest in the gold miners, invest in the pick and shovel companies, because they’re selling everyone. Coinbase had a sell to everybody. Everybody had to use Coinbase, for the longest time was the only place you could trade. And so that was sort of obvious that you could put money to work there. And if there was any play at all, it would pay off, right? If it turns out there was a play, it did pay off. Now there were many many cryptocurrencies that have gone absolutely nowhere, maybe the majority of them, and there are a few as you know, Joanne, because I know you love this field, there’s a few of them have gone through the roof, and may go up another 10x 20x 50x. Because it’s a supply and demand situation. We know how that works. Yes. So it’s a fascinating field. So to me, it was literally stepping back and saying there is a pain point. There are people, you know, mining Bitcoin at the time, with no way to turn it into anything. And here’s an exchange as the only one at the time, two guys in, you know, startup out of Y Combinator and I go well, that’ll probably work. Because someone’s got to exchange it. It’s a pretty good idea, right? So there’s a real pain point.

Kevin Surace 13:59
You know, look for real pain points that are huge. Look for the right market timing. Bill Gross famously did an analysis of at the time about 180 companies he invested in, in Southern California, and to look at what was the most successful, who had the best outcomes, turns out surprisingly, it wasn’t about the team. It wasn’t about their educational background. It wasn’t about their experience. It wasn’t about the money they raised. It wasn’t about the technology, it really came down to one thing every time: market timing, they happen to get that pain point right at that moment in time. They had maybe first mover advantage or just when the product was working good enough, that’s when the market expanded whatever, Facebook would be a good example of that, right? Coinbase is a great example of that. Market timing is everything. Almost no amount of money can beat market timing, and you’ll never be able to raise enough money.

Kevin Surace 14:53
So we see, you see, and I see, incredibly talented people in Silicon Valley outside of Silicon Valley, building amazing companies only to see the company fold and you go, but that guy or that gal, or those people are so smart. I don’t understand it. They are smart. It doesn’t say that they’re not smart as the market timing wasn’t right. And by the way, it might be right a year later, and they just couldn’t hang on long enough, right? We don’t know. And I see that companies go under, and then a year later, the space is on fire. Okay, we saw this in the food delivery space. So you know, food delivery was sort of, okay, about 10 years ago, and then it just went through this nuclear winter and nobody wanted it. And all the startups were shut ghost kitchens, were shuttered, everything. COVID came, and now anyone who’s in that business is all of a sudden worth $50 billion, right? Well, 20 companies went under, and they wish they had just, …if they had saved their money and lasted the market timing, eventually got there.

Joanne Z. Tan 15:51
Yes, yes. Now, here’s the question, the right product, at the right time, with the right amount of money that you have, you know, to make the dream come true, so how much is the luck? – Well, that’s all the luck!

Kevin Surace 16:06
Well, that you could say all luck. I mean, obviously. Well, I’ll give you a Bill Gross’s point was, he had several teams that he would not rank as his best team at all. They were not the smartest, the most aggressive, they didn’t hire the best people. And they still had a huge success because of market timing. So again, market timing sort of trumped everything, you could have a pretty lackluster product. But at that moment in time, there’s a need for it. So you know, an example would be grocery delivery in the middle of COVID. If you had stock, you had customers, if you had stock you had customers, and if by chance you had started your company a week before COVID and you had a warehouse and you had toilet paper you could sell all you had, right, market timing killed it, crushed it.

Kevin Surace 16:52
This, look, this is true for Peloton. Peloton, by chance, market timing was right; Zoom, market time was right. Zoom was doing fine. But they were you know, there with Blue Jeans and a bunch of other people, right? A lot of people in that space competing against the big guys. And the market timing just happened to be right. And they had ease of use on their site. Everyone in… their grandmother, literally the grandmother can run a zoom, that I can use it, I can push the button that comes up. Right. And then Microsoft had to get into the game. And Google’s late to the game. I mean, I don’t know, – does anyone use Google Meets? I don’t know. Does anyone even use Blue Jeans anymore? Blue Jeans was a huge network. No. I mean..

Joanne Z. Tan 17:29
Everyone uses Zoom, Yeah. So market timing. Now, that leads to another question: most of the CEOs, the entrepreneurs, startup owners, they value too much their ideas and their technology,

Kevin Surace 17:45
Yes, they do.

Joanne Z. Tan 17:46
They fail to really use, to use the mindset of marketing, branding, and establish your product-market fit, and decipher the signals of the market before everybody else, you know. So that part actually, is the marketing part.

Kevin Surace 18:06

Joanne Z. Tan 18:07
And they don’t even bother having a CMO until they’re like in B round, you know, or even later. So that’s a problem. They’re not visionary enough.

Kevin Surace 18:19
It is. But here’s the reason I think that’s always been, by the way, and smart companies know that they need a branding, and differentiation, and messaging, and those all have to be tested. But the problem is, most tech startups anyway, are started by tech people. Yeah, engineers that are marketeers, and engineers by nature. Someone’s going to probably write to me and yell at me. But I’ve certainly been this “engineers by nature”, invent their thing, get their thing working, and they think it is the best thing in the world. I don’t care if it’s a plastic box, it is the best plastic box in the world, right? It is the best SAS software in the world. It is the best crypto thing, it is the best that is … So they’ve convinced themselves. Now that level of ego is actually partially important because it keeps you going every morning, you sort of need that belief, – we believe we’re doing the right thing.

Kevin Surace 19:10
But smart people have written about this for a long time: actually step back and say, I of course think it’s the best, that’s by nature. But I now have to do testing, and I’ve got to circle that around, and get that feedback loop very, very tight. So I’ve got to get out there test the product, test messages, and within days come back around, and say that feedback is not working. And you know, some people use focus groups, now we do a lot online, we do surveys, we push stuff online, we get free freemium offers whatever it is, right. You have got to get that client, that customer feedback. You got to see what messages sell, which don’t sell, which one’s converting, which don’t convert, I’m telling you your job, you know, – you do this for people. And then you have to listen to it. And you… I want to make that feedback loop days, not weeks and months, – days! I mean, make it very, very, very quick. So that you iterate on your product.

Kevin Surace 20:01
Now what a lot of, what I see a lot of people do, is they’ll hire you, you come, you put, – I am going to make it up – five different ads out there, you get all this feedback, you’ve come back around, you show them what people want. It turns out, they want some different features, as it turns out, then, and they go and the the entrepreneur goes, Oh, they’re wrong. Well, that’s a view. That’s one view. Let me give you another view: that feedback is invaluable. And those who listened to it, your clients, your customers can’t design your product, but they can tell you their pain points.

Kevin Surace 20:33
So there’s no customer who designed Steve Jobs’ iPhone or Apple’s iPhone, right? Nobody does. But Steve could watch people and say, This is actually a pain point. They actually need their email, they don’t know they need their email when they’re standing out there. But they do. And they and they need texts, and they need messaging. And actually, they need to, today with the web, they need to surf the web. You know, so he could see these were pain points that people couldn’t exactly articulate, but they were real pain points, they couldn’t design your product for you. So don’t look for your customer to design the product, but look for your customer to tell you their pain points. And then when they use your product, say this is what’s working for me. And this is what I don’t understand. And you know, customers say real quickly, they say, I don’t understand, you go, Oh, well, that customer is stupid. Okay, that’s also a view, but that’s your customer, and they were going to buy from you, and they won’t buy from you if we call them stupid. So if that’s who you’re selling to, you got to fix the product.

Joanne Z. Tan 21:28
Those entrepreneurs, startup owners, the CEOs, they need the “outside their own forest” perspective, because they’re so deep into their products, which are like their babies, okay, they don’t have an objective point of view. So they need people outside of their vision, peripheral vision, to tell them what is wrong with this product-market fit, you know, why is it not better, what are the pain points, so they need people like us, okay. Anyway, next question.

Kevin Surace 22:04
Yeah, hire Joanne! I mean, you need a separate set of eyes. Don’t forget, Tiger Woods has a coach. And you go, the coach can’t play nearly as good as Tiger Woods. – He doesn’t have to, he’s got a set of eyes, and he can see what’s going on to improve what Tiger Woods is doing. Okay, if Tiger Woods can have a coach for that, you can have someone who looks at the product-market fit, who talks to potential customers, who gets feedback, who looks at different ads, and different messages, and finds out how customers are back, and come back to you with a third party view that you can’t see yourself. And frankly, you don’t even want to see because you believe so much in what you’re doing. But you NEED to see, because that’s how you’ll be successful.

Joanne Z. Tan 22:45
That’s right. Even the best surgeon cannot operate on himself. Okay.

Kevin Surace 22:50
Yes, he can once, but very badly.

Joanne Z. Tan 22:55
Yeah, we all have our blind spots. We need others to help us.  Number Five Question:

AI – What do you think about the prospect that AI may become the master of humanity?

Kevin Surace 23:08
Yeah, not in our lifetime. I think, you know, I always split AI into what Hollywood does and what really happens, what Hollywood does is Ex Macina, and it takes over everything and blows up the world and whatever. But actually, that’s, we’re nowhere near that. Where we are today is very, very, very succinct vertical solutions. Speech recognition is a great example that is improved dramatically. Image recognition, – these sorts of things, learning from huge databases, building out a neural net, and then applying that to future data. We are very good at that. Now we’re getting extremely good at it. So for instance, today, you know, we can teach an AI to recognize a cat out of millions of images by training it on millions or billions of cat images, right, and saying: cat, cat, cat, cat cat, okay, great. However, now if you throw a chair at the AI and never trained it on a chair, it can just say it’s not a cat, but it actually doesn’t know what it is, has no clue because we haven’t trained it on it. That’s the limit of our technology. More than that, you could show it some hair from a cat, and it wouldn’t know what that is because it didn’t train on hair. It could hear meow, and it would go I don’t know what that is because I wasn’t trained on the sounds of a cat. Does that make sense? And it can’t tie these different realms together yet, although we’re starting to work on that. That’s where we actually are in actual AI. It’s very, very limited solving specific problems.

Kevin Surace 24:40
When you look at AI in a driverless vehicle, you’re trying to solve many, many, many different problems with many different, we’ll say, AI engines, or many different neural nets. And probably some traditional AI as well. You know, across dozens of computers or GPU systems, that’s what you’re doing. You’re solving these things, the way a human would. You’re listening to sounds you’re looking ahead, you might be getting LIDAR data, etc, etc. And so you’re trying to solve problems the way humans do, but very limited. So forget this idea that there’s going to be a robot like me that they can have this kind of, you know, rapid fire conversation and then go over and push the nuclear button – Not gonna happen. Not in our lifetime, when, …and there’s just no sense of this. It’s so far away.

Joanne Z. Tan 25:27

Do you think AI will ever acquire the human critical thinking and the creative skills?

Kevin Surace 25:35
Well, here’s the problem. So scientists today don’t understand exactly how humans can jump from one domain to another and think outside the box by leveraging their knowledge of one domain and putting it in another domain, right. That’s a very unique skill, although it’s not just unique to humans. There are probably other animals and things that can do that. But we can do that, you know, sort of innately, we see something coming towards us. And we can pretty well figure out even if we’ve never seen it before, if it’s dangerous to us or not, even though we’ve never seen that thing before, right? Doesn’t matter. We go: Hmm, I’ve never seen a lion coming towards me. But a lion is a bad thing. Now AI doesn’t do that, at all! If it wasn’t trained to recognize a lion, it would say, well, there’s something coming towards me. I don’t know what I do. I it’s not something I’ve seen before. So we could program it to say if you don’t know what it is, run. But it actually doesn’t know what it is. Right? So you have all these problems. So there’s that.

Kevin Surace 26:38
And also what scientists don’t know, we don’t understand is: how do we actually have sensing, and feeling, and true emotions, right?  How are we sentient, truly sentient, we are aware of ourselves, we’re aware that we live and die, we’re aware of our finite existence, we’re aware of things that are dangerous to us, could harm us. I mean, and we have feelings, we have compassion, we have empathy. Now, back in the 90s, when we built Portico and Mary, we programmed Mary to sound like she had empathy, just like Siri does. So people would say, “Mary, I would like to marry you, you’re so sexy,”or whatever it is. And she’d say, “Oh, thank you.” And we’d have, you know, a dozen different replies to make her sound like she was empathetic to what they were saying. However, she wasn’t actually empathetic, it was just a sub routine. It’s a randomized saying, well randomized and waited. And you know, you said, well, I already use that, so I’m going to use a different one until you’ve cycled through them. And then you do it again. And you randomize it. So that’s how we fake empathy.

Kevin Surace 27:41
But how do we actually have empathy? I have no clue. And nobody does. We don’t know why we have it. But why do we actually care? really care? I mean, physically care about another human who’s, let’s say bleeding in the street, – we actually care. We don’t even know who they are. But they’re human. If we, by the way, a cat bleeding in the street, we would feel the same way. You know, at some level, we’d say “I have to help this poor animal, I’ve got to get it to a vet, I’ve got it,” whatever. Why do we have, Why do we even have empathy? And how do you form that? I can program it and fake it. How do you… So that’s why we are so far away. I think to think outside the box, you probably have to have empathy, you have to have feelings. You have to, you have to, have been raised in an environment where you were taking in literally terabytes of information every few seconds, the equivalent to terabytes of information, right? It’s fascinating.

Joanne Z. Tan 28:34
You know, I think it will be the saddest day for humanity, that AI will become the master of our life, and humanity loses what they are created to be. So AI should be always a tool serving humanity, not the other way.

Kevin Surace 28:58
Oh, well, let’s flip it the other way around. Yeah, I agree with you. But let’s flip it the other way around just for a counterpoint. It could be that humans are the scourge of the earth, we are destroying a planet. We don’t actually care about this beautiful planet, that the heavens or whoever, is given to us.

Joanne Z. Tan 29:16
But you cannot expect AI to save the Planet. It has to be…

Kevin Surace 29:19
Maybe we can, maybe AI comes along realizes that we’re actually a virus, a bacteria, a fungus on this planet, eradicates us and then fixes the planet, and designs its own co2 absorbing mechanisms to reestablish the planet’s balance.

Joanne Z. Tan 29:37
If that’s the case, that’s my point. That’s the end of humanity.

Kevin Surace 29:41
And maybe it should be. That’s my point.

Joanne Z. Tan 29:44
We can write a sci fi about this,

Kevin Surace 29:46
maybe it should be, maybe we are actually a fungus that must be eliminated.

Joanne Z. Tan 29:50
That leads to my next question, okay, –

This pandemic is only the beginning. There will be more. What do you think the world should do to be more prepared? What are your predictions about the future after this pandemic?

Kevin Surace 30:06
Well, surprisingly COVID, being a Coronavirus, was, you know, a generally well understood virus type, and actually not that dangerous. I know that’s a terrible thing to say with millions of people dead. But compared to what could come out, which could be some kind of airborne fungus that we have never seen before, or potentially a bacteria or some virus that is way outside of the realm of this thing. You know, the overall fatality rate of this thing, well being in this, call at 1-3% range, you know, it wasn’t 90 or 100%, it wasn’t Ebola. Now, you know, fortunately, Ebola doesn’t seem to travel through the air. But how would an Ebola that travel through the air and could travel hundreds of miles and infect everyone on Earth in a month, and everyone dies, 100% fatality rate, that would be bad, that would be severely bad. So we were… this was a warning. I mean, I hate to say this is a warning sign. Now what’s the good news? The good news is that the US government had funded mRNA research for a decade. And that allowed us to actually have a vaccine, literally, within a week or so of the virus. DNA being released, right, so the virus being sequenced, it was sequenced, and we had a vaccine ready to go in a week. Now it had to go through three phases of trials, which in the future, we might shorten, because we now know how mRNA vaccines work. So maybe there’s a chance to say, in emergency, that’s three weeks, it’s not a year, but they actually had a working vaccine in a week, we could have made billions of those and gotten them out, almost nobody would have died, right? But we weren’t ready to do that. Because mRNA is new. So this is a huge step forward to humanity. Remember, in 1918, Spanish Flu, we had no vaccines, there was no hope of vaccine. It just had to peter its way out over two years, and eventually it did and died. And it actually turned into H1N1, which we have today, circulates around and we generally don’t die from it.

Kevin Surace 32:19
Um, one thing about, the last thing I’ll say about viruses is, often if they’re given enough time, they continue to mutate and they eventually mutate into a form that generally doesn’t kill its host. Now, why is that? Well, because the longer the host survives, and spreads it, the more of it there is, right. So if you think about that, it makes no sense for a virus to quickly kill its host, because then it can’t get around. And so just Darwin itself would say you need a host to keep walking around for months and giving it to everybody so that it spreads more, does that make sense. And so H1N1 became not generally lethal. Even though the Spanish Flu… it slowly mutated into something that today we just call the flu, doesn’t really kill very many people, one in 1000, it’s not good, but it’s fine. We live with that. So I think we’re more prepared than we’ve ever been. I think that we’ve got to have agencies, which are hard, you know, it’s hard to do, agencies that are willing to say, in an emergency, we are going to come up with a protocol that approves an mRNA based vaccine, now that we have experience with it in, you know, I’m going to give you a number, in four weeks. And you create a protocol that does that. And, you know, whatever the deal is, and maybe it’s six weeks, but we can’t wait a year, we’re gonna have to really condense that, because an awful lot of people died.

Kevin Surace 33:41
The second thing is, and I’ll just mention this, because it’s sort of a techie program. It is absolutely beyond my understanding how we can have apparently smart people, Southwest Airlines pilots right now, health care workers, saying they refuse to take the vaccine. They’re happy taking horse dewormer in the form of ivermectin, but they won’t get a vaccine. This is scary for humanity. Okay, this is a failure of the education system. It really is. You talked about critical thinking earlier. Clearly critical thinking went out the window, and you were not taught to think critically, instead, you’re watching whatever rolls by on Facebook and you’re believing them that the vaccine is full of nanoprobes or something. No, it’s not full of nanoprobes. And no, it doesn’t change your DNA. And please, that’s not how the science works. Learn how the science works, or trust the scientists, trust the scientists who developed it and gave it to themselves and their family first. Now they’re not martyrs. They did that because they believe in it, right, So you got to believe in other humans… those can’t believe in anything, you believe everyone’s a martyr, and they’re not, anyway.

Joanne Z. Tan 34:56
No matter how advanced a country’s general education level, there will be people who are going to be anti-vax. There will be people who refuse to do this. Now that leads to a bigger question: If you rely on science only, on vaccine only, without the political mandate, the virus will just keep mutating.

Kevin Surace 35:20

Joanne Z. Tan 35:21
Now, you compare the statistics of China’s fatality and infection rate and with United States. Of course, they use the draconian measure, which I don’t particularly care about. But they were controlling it far better than any country on this planet. Okay. Now, there is no answer to that question. Let’s move on to the next one.

Kevin Surace 35:48
There is a little bit of an answer. Hang on, because there is no question while I deplore communism, there’s no question that in certain circumstances that actually works better than a democracy. In the case of a virus, it works great because you just say if you leave your house, will kill you. And you go, Okay, well, I know I’m exaggerating a bit but you get the point right? A country that says if you leave your house, will kill you clearly can squash your virus in a week, there’s nowhere for it to go. There’s no human to see. So when you can have those kind of mandates in certain circumstances that works, like I said, deplore communism and all its forms, on the other hand, we should acknowledge that there’s times that kind of draconian method actually save lives, they actually save lives, no question; and a few other countries who did something incredibly similar, you know, New Zealand, which is a democracy but clearly clamped down, Australia clamped down, we had some countries that do that.

Kevin Surace 36:45
Here, we value our freedom so much, which is great. We all value that. But there are times that, you know, people have to wear a mask and have to get vaccinated and have to not get together with family. I mean, look at this huge breakout in Hawaii, you know, at the end of August and into early September. Basically, the residents of Hawaii, who live there full time, just want to get together with their family, they were just done with COVID. And I understand that, but by getting together with their family, they had an entire families they had an entirely huge spike, huge spike that was 5,6,7 times higher filled, all the restaurants have filled all the hospitals, excuse me, didn’t fill the restaurant. And and to the extent the governor had to say that, please, visitors don’t come. Now the visitors were not the ones that were having COVID because they don’t get together with anyone. They don’t know anyone else there. Right? It was the larger families that got together. And there was nothing that Governor could say that would stop them. They just said we don’t care. We’re getting together. We’re celebrating our family. And if we all get it, we get it. So I, you know, humans are humans, that we’re going to lock them up?

Joanne Z. Tan 37:55
Well, democracy and freedom is based on personal, individual accountability and responsibility. But if you don’t have that personal responsibility and accountability, it breeds ignorance. And it hurts the entire society.

Kevin Surace 38:13
Sure, absolutely.

Joanne Z. Tan 38:14
So this is a philosophical question. Let’s move on to the next one:

Describe in detail your vision of the world with AI, social media, digital currency, two years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now.

Kevin Surace 38:31
AI is augmented intelligence. And the first thing it’s doing is, there’s no question, it’s allowing companies to be more concise and more predictive with the data that they have. It is then slowly with RPA, which is a techno robotic process automation, with technology that sort of replaces things like customer service and other things that are repetitive, it is going after those lower end jobs first. So AI can replace some, you know, first level customer support. And it is, it can replace things like you know, insurance, people who have to, you know, look at the information when you’ve gotten in a car crash, things like that, right. These claims processors, things that are highly repetitive, it’s actually quite good at that.

Kevin Surace 39:26
So over the next five to 10 years, those are the jobs that are at risk. On the other hand, society will get more productive. And most of those jobs in the US, those kinds of jobs were sent overseas anyway, and by the way, that’s true with manufacturing, so we’re going to see those jobs coming back but being taken over by software or hardware robotics, if that makes sense. Right. So because look, why do we make things in China? Well, companies for the last 20 years went to China because you could get labor cheaply, period, full stop. Nothing wrong with that. And China got very good at making things for us. As automation, and robotics, and AI, and AI image detection, all of those things get better and better and cheaper and cheaper, well, you can make it right here cuz I don’t need any labor. Why would I pay any labor? Why would I pay even $2 an hour in China, when I can pay $0 here, just the machine, it’ll run 24/7.

Kevin Surace 40:21
So we’re seeing this on-shoring of lots of things, customer support, I sent it to India 15 years ago, I sent it there because of cost, not for any other reason. Now I can have a technology do it. And the AI is getting very good at doing it. So I’ll just bring it back here. It starts with chatbots. And then it starts with true interaction. And then eventually it starts with literally it looks like a human and, and we’re very close to that. So those jobs are going to be taken but mostly being taken from offshore. So that’s not good for them. But it’s probably fine for us.

Kevin Surace 40:54
Second thing is, don’t realize we have 10 plus million jobs open in this country, the United States, and no one to fill him. Even though there’s 8 million people out of work, they don’t seem to want to fill those jobs. Most industries are facing a huge labor shortage over the next 10 to 20 years, simply because of the macro economic conditions of people with lower birth rates finally getting through high school. And so high school graduations are continuing to go down. College graduations continue to go down just because there’s less people going in, not because they’re not graduating, they’re just less people in the system. And they’re going down at a pretty rapid rate. And yet we have a need for more workers to produce more. And so this is diverging, right? We’ve got a problem. We got worker base going down, needs more. So we have to get more productive. So AI is going to help us be more productive. This is all wonderful. And yes, over the next 10 to 15 years, we might finally have a real kitchen helper that’s a robot, that’s AI, that does cook for us. I’m waiting for that, it’s technically almost practical and possible today, just a little pricey. But but I think we will actually get there I want you know, I want a robot in the kitchen that cooks and cleans. We don’t want to do the dishes. I don’t want a dishwasher. I want a dish washer, right?

Joanne Z. Tan 42:07
I wanted sooner than 10 years.

Kevin Surace 42:09
Yes, we all do. But in the next decade, I think they’ll become affordable. We could build one today for a million dollars, but we can’t build one for $10,000. That’s the problem, right? So we got to get it to where it’s priced reasonably. And you probably won’t buy it. Most of these kinds of robotic systems that use a lot of AI but also are physically robotic. We’re going to lease, we’re going to pay by the hour, or pay by the month, and you know, it might be $1,000 a month or $2,000 a month to have one of these things in your kitchen. And you’ll decide is this a good thing? Oh, and they might be able to clean the house and you know, do other tasks and fold laundry. These are good things. these are, see those are pain points. Right? We know those are pain points. We know nobody actually wants to fold your laundry ever. Nobody ever said I love folding laundry. Nobody ever said I love ironing. Nobody loves those tasks. So you can see some of these tasks getting taken on by relatively dumb systems were smart enough to do that task. Right?

Joanne Z. Tan 43:05
Next question. Okay. So I’m an opera fan. All right. This season I’m really delighted to watch the New York Met opera live performance in a Century 14 movie theater near my home. The surround sound effects, large screen, reclining chair, even warmed up, and social distancing, too. – I really don’t feel like taking the BART to San Francisco Opera House, which I did for 25. I’m afraid the San Francisco box office will suffer a decline in ticket sales. So will many cities’ opera houses in the world since the Met is streamed to around 27 countries, more or less, in many local cinemas there. So:

Do you agree that technology in this case is helping with monopolies (The Met), at a loss for the local cities’ opera houses, or musicals’ performances?

Kevin Surace 44:04
Yeah, well, obviously, I’m involved in a lot of this streaming stuff, including working on a project with Stephen Schwartz actually to stream something very large to theaters later next year. So here’s what I would say. While COVID accelerated this sort of digital access to amazing performances, it was going to happen anyway, what was keeping it from happening was frankly, unions, and agreements, and how the money gets split, and all of these other things. It was not a technology problem, right. We could we’ve been streaming to theaters for five, or six, or seven years. We could certainly streamed even 4k to your home for the last four or five years. And certainly 1080 for five years before that. So you say what’s been keeping… It wasn’t a technology problem. It was all These other things. Well COVID made everybody figure out how to work. And so the unions had to figure out like, you know, AFM, right, musicians union had to figure out how do I actually work in a streaming world. Because if I don’t do this, my musicians aren’t working. Like I have to find a way to do this. Right. So everybody started looking at how they could create contracts and agreements that would work for everybody involved. And not just rely on a live audience. And that, when you look at that, that expands the audience and the opportunity, it expands the opportunity for people.

Kevin Surace 44:06
There’s a project I’m working on, called PEN performances, PEN, Private Entertainment Network performances, private, what’s a private Entertainment Network – private entertainment, is where you can get on the system. And you can pick from potentially hundreds of entertainers, and they will provide a private performance to your household all digital, two way, just to you, just to you, private, just to you. Now that’s absolutely fascinating. It’s because we’ve never had a way to do that. Even though we technically could have done it. COVID sort of pushed us to say, this is actually an expansion for the artists so that artists now can perform worldwide without leaving their home.

Joanne Z. Tan 46:17
But here’s…there are some other issues. Number one…,

Kevin Surace 46:22
someone wins, someone loses. I hear that.

Joanne Z. Tan 46:25
Oh, yes. If I have a choice of watching the same opera, my choice is between the Met and San Francisco Opera House, I look at the cast and most likely I’ll go with the Met because they just have more resources, okay, bigger stars. My time is limited. I choose the best. Okay. Now, if you do a live event, just for you, a private show, – are you kidding me? You don’t have that interaction with the audience. You don’t… you can’t read the facial expressions…

Kevin Surace 46:59
Actually, it’s full two way interactive, two way interactive with that audience, with your home.

Joanne Z. Tan 47:04

Kevin Surace 47:05
virtually. Oh, two way. Yeah.

Joanne Z. Tan 47:07
So follow up my question:

So isn’t this consistent with the entire human societies trend right now toward monopolies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, as well as in the political climate of autocracy, (China) or whatever you call it, versus democracy?

Kevin Surace 47:28
Well, when there are winners, there are losers. And what I mean by that is, if you just look at the amount of dollars spent on opera, every year, you’re going to spend X amount of dollars, right? You weren’t going to increase your expenditures, you’re just going to spend those dollars in different ways. And since there’s more ways to spend them, that means you took it away from someone else. So if you go to San Francisco, one or two times less, they didn’t get your money. Now, let me say this, that there is something absolutely grand about live performance in being there. As you know, there’s nothing like being at the opera, or being in a Broadway show, and being in the audience. There’s, there’s nothing, nothing at home, nothing in the theater replaces that. Now, here’s how I look at it for Broadway, not everyone can go to New York City, like you can’t go to the Met every week, because you don’t live in New York City. So this is bringing the Met to you, which is fantastic. It is sad that you’re it’s taking some money from San Francisco, because you’ve chosen to limit your time and expenses and everything else. But you otherwise could not have gone to the Met. But if you are in New York City, if you’re in New York City, and you could just go to the Met, you would probably go to the Met because it’s live! And … that is a way better experience in the theater. But that’s not available to you, taking the plane trip, going there, seeing the two hour production, getting back on a plane, and coming back is not available to you every week.

Joanne Z. Tan 48:49
I hope you’re right, so with this live streaming by the best opera houses in the world, really true that they will not threaten the other cities’ local opera houses, then it’s the same analogy with Amazon, all those mama Papa retail stores are still going to thrive, – which is NOT the case!

Kevin Surace 49:12
Not the case. As I said, you’re taking money out of someone else’s pocket – you’re going to the theater took time and money from your going to San Francisco, and that was a choice you made. Even though a lot

Joanne Z. Tan 49:24
The choices made by so many people

Kevin Surace 49:26
I get that. That’s right.

Kevin Surace 49:27
They chose Amazon over the local retailers, and the local retailers all go bankrupt

Kevin Surace 49:31
That is absolutely the case. Well, look, here’s one thing we know from Apple, and Steve Jobs said it is true: Convenience trumps all. Convenience trumps all. And we learned this with the iPod when it first came out, the music player. When that came out, the quality wasn’t that good and it couldn’t hold that many songs. But it held enough to be more convenient than any other method of music playing I had. It wasn’t the highest quality, and the ear things that they had weren’t tech-y, but it was so convenient to have a few 1000 songs in my pocket, that convenience trumped everything else, trumped quality, okay, the convenience of you being able to go to the theater tonight at eight o’clock, and for two hours, close to your home, watch that opera and leave and watch it from New York, the convenience that trumps everything else. And the convenience of Amazon, the convenience, not the price, and not anything else, the convenience of I can order it this morning, and have it here this afternoon for a lot of items, we’re having here tomorrow, that convenience, save me time to go to the store, figure out if they even have the item, – I can push a button right now order it, it’ll be here this afternoon. I’m done. That is wickedly convenient. I don’t know if I got the best price. And frankly, I just don’t have time to care. It’s just like push the button, something will show up. That problem is solved, right? I could have gone to Home Depot and got that light ball, but I can order them on Amazon and they show up for $5.

Joanne Z. Tan 50:57
So speaking of innovation, if those local retailers, if the brick and mortar opera houses or just consumer stores want to survive, they cannot compete on convenience, they must compete on experience.

Kevin Surace 51:13
Sure, absolutely

Joanne Z. Tan 51:14
Customer experience, so they have to go there to experience that, you know, which cannot be offered by just a box dropped at my door. You know,

Kevin Surace 51:24
that’s right. That’s right. And there are certain products that offer that kind of experience. Certain kinds of clothing is generally all for that experience. Although Amazon’s getting better, and they’re better with returns. Now, groceries used to offer that experience. But now people have learned you can just order groceries, whether you order them locally, or whatever, whatever. So I would say what we’ve learned from COVID is that humans are willing to generally live without that experience. It wasn’t that important in most cases,

Joanne Z. Tan 51:52
as of now; but I think there are people who … more and more people are getting tired of this locked up.

Kevin Surace 52:00
No question. No question. But when you teach people a new trick, like order groceries online, and they show up at your doorstep two hours later, you’ve taught them a trick that they don’t unlearn. They don’t unlearn. And they used to say, well, the experience of growing a grocery store, but then they learn because they had to, to order groceries and then they go, Well, sometimes I’ll still do that. I might not do it all the time. But it’s actually pretty darn convenient. We taught people new tricks. And we taught people the experience was good. But I could live without it for a while.

Joanne Z. Tan 52:30
Okay, yeah. So next:

Climate change: How do you address it? To what extent our traditional ways of thinking, governing, investing, living… must change, and change fast?

Kevin Surace 52:42
Yeah, well, this is a terrible topic. So look, the The real issue is that we needed to address climate change around 1985, before any of us knew the term climate change. And it’s in a runaway situation at this point. And as much as we have now, you know, signed back on the Paris Climate Accord and the other accords and everything else, the truth is, when you look at every country who signed up for all those accords now multiple times, Kiato, Paris, others, nobody’s met any of their targets, virtually no countries come even close. And part of the reason is that it’s easy for a government to sign up and say we’re going to reduce our carbon emissions by 30% in five years, but how do they get industry to actually do that?

Kevin Surace 52:47
How do you actually force an industry to do that, and in some industry, they have no alternative like they must use natural gas to burn something that generates, you know, methane, co2, etc, etc. So this is actually a fundamentally huge problem. Look, we heat and cool our homes, all of our buildings all all up are about including making of the buildings, if you look worldwide, about 52% of overall carbon emissions, buildings, we don’t think about it, because the carbon emission is happening at some power plant, you know, 100 miles from here, right? But I heat and cool the house and somewhere someone’s burning coal, or natural gas, maybe nuclear, possibly, solar, there’s much more of that now. But solar is a few percent of our overall energy usage. After years of, it’s cheaper and it’s better and but you have to have the space and you know, it’s all we can just go down the line, right?

Kevin Surace 54:19
So we’re moving in the right direction, but we’re not moving fast enough. We’ve never moved fast enough. And it’s not just about us. China is still building coal plants, we’ve stopped in the US and you know, they practically have to they don’t have natural gas resources. In some of those areas, they just don’t have the solar resources. They’re building coal plants, still building coal plants, coal plants, – turn them all off! Well, you can’t. And a coal plant last 50 or more years, so I don’t see a way out of this when no country has met any of their goals. Now that’s the negative and me and the positive would say but look at wind and solar, and how cheap they become and solar and in many cases

Joanne Z. Tan 54:58
Nuclear power! We really need to think about using nuclear power.

Kevin Surace 55:02
Oh, absolutely. I’m a big supporter of nuclear. Absolutely. The fact that we’re turning off our, you know, nuclear power plant in California is ridiculous. This is one place where it’s very interesting, you know, you see the environmental, the environmentalists who said, Get rid of nuclear power, it’s dangerous. It’s not, but fine. And it turns out that by shutting down and not building nuclear power plants over the last 30 years, we permanently harmed the Earth, permanently harmed the Earth by thinking that that was more dangerous than building coal plants and generating co2, which is what we did. We built coal and natural gas because we couldn’t build nuclear. So for 30 or 40 years now,…

Joanne Z. Tan 55:44
That loops back to my prior question, lingering question, is about this political process has permanently, I’m quoting you, harmed our Mother Earth, this political process has delayed even the BART for 20 plus years, while everyone else is building bullet train! I interviewed a commercial real estate developer last time, okay. And he said, the housing shortage in California is 120% responsible on the government part, the government created the housing shortage because of the process. So now I’m looking at this democracy that I came to this country, because, back in 1980s, I believed in this the beacon on the hill, the American democracy, and now I’m looking back, it’s like, COVID: – failed; Well, environment: well, you know, the race against climate change, I don’t think we’re, as you said,… which is slow…

Kevin Surace 56:46
Actually no country is doing well in the race against climate change. That’s the problem.

Joanne Z. Tan 56:51
Okay. Next question. That is:

The sorry state of US politics: Do you think the two party system is collapsing into its own dead end? There are other democratic political structures, the parliamentary systems, and I wrote something about the rank choice voting based on Harvard professors model, which is used already by New York’s mayoral election, and other state’s governor’s election. So what do you think?

Kevin Surace 57:20
Yeah, rank choice could work. Look, I think that, what people have to understand the two party system, which has been around for some time, is a very interesting system. Because it creates a situation early on in the election cycle, during the primaries that in the end pushes the furthest left and furthest right candidate to be on top, and that dog doesn’t… that’s that is a problem. That’s a real problem, because actually, most Americans are generally centrists. And so you can’t get a centrist candidate. And you can’t get one through the primary system.

Kevin Surace 58:01
The second thing is, is that Americans think that their vote actually counts. And in, say, a presidential election, it doesn’t exactly count directly, as we know, there is all these systems in between. But in fact, even within a state, it’s just a recommendation for the representatives of the electoral college that the state is going to send, and technically in some states are talking about this, they’re saying that they might send whoever they want, that is the legislature can look at how the people voted yet send representatives in the electoral college to which they wish. Now that isn’t technically illegal, perhaps because of the will of the people in this case is representative, and it’s just a suggestion to the party, who they want and who they should send, by the way, even a party could say, they could, for example, in the next election, maybe everybody goes for Kamala – I’m making it up, – and Biden still on the ticket, let’s just make that up. And the party could say that’s interesting, but we’re putting up Biden, thank you America for voting, we’re putting up Biden. Because the parties themselves, you all you did was vote for a party, the party can do what they want. Now, they’re not supposed to, they shouldn’t, but you’re not actually voting for the candidate you think, so this whole system is messy.

Kevin Surace 59:28
And it got put in place to be able to really fund two candidates, one on the right, and one on the left, and fund it wholeheartedly. So we really have to rethink the funding, rethink where the money comes from, rethink how companies can come in with millions of dollars to fund candidates. Get it back to grassroots, maybe nobody can give more than $1,000 and there are no PACs, get rid of PACs. I mean you have to undo the whole system.

Kevin Surace 59:58
Well, the only one who can undo the system is Congress and Congress loves PAC money. They love money, what’s not to love? So the whole system is built in a way that in this case, the normal check and balance doesn’t work, right, because the judicial side, can’t undo the fact that Congress likes these PACs and likes money. And you know, they, a congress person has to go out every two years, you know, they’re running again, right, they’re running again. And this is a problem. So they’re always running. And to run, they always have to raise money. So you know, you get the emails, please give $1 please get $5. And I am going, you just got elected, but they’ve got to start the cycle again. Because that’s their job. They’re only in … And for career politicians is the only job they’ve ever known. They don’t know what else to do. So all they do is raise money all the time. And I don’t know how that gets fixed…,

Joanne Z. Tan 1:00:55
As long as politics and public positions are dependent on money, this democracy is… to say the least, flawed…

Kevin Surace 1:01:10
All societies eventually blow up, and have on Earth, you know, Greek, Romans, just, you know, go through it,

Joanne Z. Tan 1:01:19
I certainly hope that the “we the people” will contribute to the survival and the sustainable future of our democracy.

Kevin Surace 1:01:29
Well, who’s “we the people”? You know, some portion of “we the people” tried to bring down the entire government on January 6, that’s not you the people, or me the people, but it is we the people, some of the people, by the way, some of those people continue to think in the back of their mind, or even in front of their mind that the election was stolen. There was zero data on that, sorry, it’s been tested in every state. But there are conspiracy theories, and there are conspiracy theorists and they’re not going to let go of their conspiracy. They’re the same people that won’t take a vaccine.

Joanne Z. Tan 1:02:00
So I see all these problems, the warning signs, those people I would say that education, our education system failed, because they do not know how to critically think, and education system failed, to make them think this is a conspiracy and the anti-vax and all this Qanon. So what do you think the future of America?

Kevin Surace 1:02:29
I think that the educational system has absolutely failed some of the people in this country, you know, and look, I think another thing I mean, I think, to be controversial, right, but you look at, you know, the shaman who broke into Pelosi’s office and all of that, and more than the headdress, you know, when you listen to him talk, you’re not hearing the highest IQ person, right? I mean, and so, you know, other terrible things might have happened in his life. We don’t know who the parents were, we don’t know, the education that he went through if he even graduated from high school. You know, everything went wrong with people like that. And of course, they think everything went wrong with us, that we came through a collegiate system, a university system that warped our minds, and made us all lefties or something like that, right. So they’re, they think war is crazy, as we think they are crazy.

Kevin Surace 1:03:23
And because of the rapid feedback loop of Facebook and social media today, we’re no longer in a place where we can have a conversation, like you and I really don’t want to have a conversation with Mr. Shaman. He’s a nutcase. Right? On the other hand, he doesn’t actually want to converse with us. But if we don’t sit down and have a conversation between humans that say, look, let’s start with this. We’re both Americans. Okay, great. And we’re all Americans. And we want a wonderful country. Okay, great. So we got to find some places where we share some common ground, what… let’s start to talk about what a wonderful country is, its opportunity for you to have a job, you know, some of these people hadn’t worked in years. That’s another problem, right? They hadn’t worked, they lost hope. Look at the people in the Middle East, they get attracted to these radical groups, there are people who have no other hope, they have no hope of a job, no hope of an education. And the only hope they have is to go take up arms and get a gun with this crazy group, and commit suicide somewhere and go to whatever place they’re going to in the afterlife, right. And a lot of that is true with these Qanon folk. These are people who haven’t worked in a long time. They were just looking for someone to follow. They got involved in a group that was online like this, and all of a sudden, they made like friends, and they had, they had an enemy. The common enemy, you know, was the government that was trying to put in place someone that wasn’t fairly elected. So in their mind, they were doing what was right even though it’s warped, and they could no longer see or hear the facts. They lost the ability to critically think that the number of people who would have had to in, you know, six or eight states, who would have had to bet in on changing this election stuff, the number of people and nobody ready, you know, it’s impossible. It’s just too many people would have had to keep that secret.

Joanne Z. Tan 1:05:21
No, that’s the biggest threat to our democracy. Okay. And to American future.

Kevin Surace 1:05:29
It’s not AI. It’s not AI,

Joanne Z. Tan 1:05:31
not AI

Kevin Surace 1:05:31
It’s the Shaman and Qanons.

Joanne Z. Tan 1:05:33
Yes, the ignorance of the massly not educated.

Kevin Surace 1:05:39
ignoramus. Oh, yes.

Joanne Z. Tan 1:05:41
Now, last question.

What does the “Kevin Surace Brand” stand for? What do you want the world to remember you after you kick the bucket?

Kevin Surace 1:05:52
Well, well, first of all, I hope I’m here remembering instead, why I didn’t kick the bucket and why the world is doing what it’s doing. So let’s turn that around. It’s a little bit like, the doctor saying, Wh at do you want me to remember me by when you die? And it’s like, well, actually, I want to see you dead first, right? So I would say this, though, truly, look, I think all you can do is try to have integrity in your life, that’s all you can do is try to have integrity. Don’t steal from people, don’t steal their ideas. Don’t treat them badly. If you hear from someone that you haven’t heard of from, I don’t know, since high school since kindergarten, doesn’t matter, treat them with respect. Treat them with dignity, if they want something from you try to give it to them, give them the time of day, give them the time that they need, give them the respect as another human. There are too many people in this life, that kind of throw their friends away at different sections of their life, they get to this point, they go, I don’t have time for that group of friends, you know, where I grew up that, and I get that, but you know what, just respect other people, just respect and have integrity in your business. Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, just have integrity, you know, in trying to, try to have a sense of purpose every day.

Kevin Surace 1:07:16
Try to have a sense of purpose every day. And when people have a sense of purpose, you know, what happens, they’re not Shaman, they’re not QAnon, because they get up every day, and they have a sense of purpose, my sense of purpose is, you know, I’m going to help move things forward, or I’ve got this job to do, or I’ve got to take care of my family, or we’ve got to love my wife, we got to love my kids, whatever it is, right? That sense of purpose, have a sense of purpose, you have a sense of purpose everyday for the companies that you work with, you go, Okay, I’ve got to collect this information, I got to do this, and I got to work on this branding, and then I got to get to the company, I got to change the way, maybe some of the direction that companies so that they can be successful. And you will be successful in return.

Kevin Surace 1:07:52
So integrity, integrity, integrity. And in this valley in Silicon Valley, I can say, you know, when we’ve got Elizabeth Holmes on trial for Theranos, and we’ve got the, you know, this media company that just fell apart, and I can just go down the line, you have a lot of people with getting a lot of money, and literally lying about the business that they’re doing. And this has gone on, isn’t the first time, I’ve seen this for 20, 30 years. But don’t do that. Just build an honest business. And if you can’t, give the money back, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know what I’m doing. Here’s your money back. These are people’s money. They earned it. They worked hard for it. Their retirement funds. That’s what’s actually funding these companies. So high integrity, please, when you start your company, high integrity,

Joanne Z. Tan 1:08:39
Integrity, and purpose. Well, thank you. great pleasure talking to you. I can go on, and on, but we have we already exceeded our time by 10 minutes…

Kevin Surace 1:08:49
We’re already three hours and 42 minutes. So it’s…

Joanne Z. Tan 1:08:50
Haha! So, “a Renaissance man” still holds? “A Renaissance man in the Renaissance age”, – my branding of you.

Kevin Surace 1:09:00
Excellent! I’ll take, I’ll take that brand, because that’s a 10 plus brand!

Joanne Z. Tan 1:09:06
Hahaha! Thank you so much! I love it. Okay, so you do take care and have a good day.

Kevin Surace 1:09:12
Thanks, Joanne. Thanks so much.

Joanne Z. Tan 1:09:14
Okay. All right. Bye.

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