As part of the lead up to Exchange, we’re really excited to be able to share our latest interview with one of our confirmed speakers, Pete Trainor

Tell us a little bit about yourself? What was the journey that took you to founding Us ai?

I can probably sum up my journey in one word; Serendipity.

It started in 1996, when I got an apprentice digital design and coding role (we did both back then!) in the computer-based training department of a helicopter factory in Somerset. I was leaving school with almost no qualifications, and I got really lucky.

In the 20 years that followed that boot-camp in digital, I’ve been bobbing and weaving through lots of different facets of human-focused, data-driven design projects. Big and small companies. New ones and old ones. I feel really fortunate. Trends, technology and peoples behaviour, have changed design paradigms so rapidly that my job is different every week – but, that apprentice mentality of ‘being adaptable’, and asking lots of questions, has served me well. I stick to what I’m good at; being curious, data data data, Ai and practising the heck out of my craft while taking nothing for granted.

So that all leads me to a junction a few years ago. To mark 20 years in design, data and Ai, I sat down and wrote a book. The book wasn’t what I set out to write. What I wanted to write was a manual for my younger self. Like an apology for the last 20 years of just ‘making random digital stuff’. What emerged was a philosophy for how we can use technology like Ai to really amplify the very best parts of humanity rather than erode them.

What do you think will be the major differentiator of the workplace of the future, as opposed to the way we work today?

Difficult to say, because as I stated, things seem to change on an almost weekly basis at the moment. The exponential growth in data seems only to fuel the exponential fear of data breach or misuse. We could have workplaces (co-located or remote) where data is the glue that binds and guides us all through our jobs and various tasks. Or we could see the back-lash against psychometric and behavioural data-use, preventing us being able to do a lot of the things that we could do… it’s a tough one to call.

In theory though, once we’ve all got a really phenomenal, ethical Ai in our pockets (if the poverty gap doesn’t create a group of elite!) the workplace will be a lot smarter. Helping us maximise our time. Taking out a good portion of the mundane and repetitive tasks. Organising our calendars. Sitting us in non-departmental groups, but in groups where chemistry means more than job-title… it could be a seriously powerful new paradigm shift. Adios time-sheets…

Which three people would be your ideal dinner guests?

My wife… aside from being my soulmate, she’s one of the countries leading human-rights lawyers, so we always have a good and healthy debate about some of the work I’m involved in. I stated in the first chapter of my book, that a lot of what’s driven me over the last 20 years was the book “Age of Spiritual Machines”, so I’d have to invite Ray Kurzweil to my party, just so I could thank him and also find out how close to his vision he believes we are. Finally, given that I’d like my wife and Ray there, to balance out the party, I would throw a list of all the incredible ladies in tech I know (there are far far too many for me to name… I’m in awe of them all!) up into the air and just catch one. Whoever that catch might be would no doubt wipe the floor of all the rest of us and ignite some good debate and deliver some humorous insight.

What are you reading/watching at the moment?

Reading-wise. I try and step out of my comfort zone on books. I spend my life swimming in technology and strategy, so I find it cathartic to go totally away from that. I’ve just finished the “Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” by Erving Goffman. A really interesting book about the gap between our public and private selves. Which now more than ever feels really relevant. “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” by Yuval Noah Harari, was also a bit of a mind-blower for me…

 

What’s your most used app?

Pretty dull actually. I try to regulate my app behaviour a lot, just because a lot of what I do is studying the affects of digital on people. So I have a bit of an insiders view! I use Spark email religiously. It’s hard not to. Email is the life-line I have to manage my life now and Spark is a really great, simple tool for managing things intuitively.

 

About Exchange

This one day event in London on May 24th is the bringing together of thought leaders focusing on the future of work and what that means for the employee experience. We know that great experiences, thoughtfully designed, drive higher levels of employee engagement, retain talent and are the basis of your employer brand.

Brought to you by us together with The Employee Engagement Awards & Benefex we’re bringing the biggest names in employee experience to equip attendees with practical takeaways for changing the experience their employees receive for the better.

**All members of The EEA are entitled to discounted tickets, email [email protected] for more information.**

 

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