The Intersection of Technology and Human Behavior: Creating Innovative Startups

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Sep 18, 2023

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The Intersection of Technology and Human Behavior: Creating Innovative Startups

In the rapidly changing world of technology, one thing remains constant: human nature. The fundamental desires and needs of people do not change, and this presents an opportunity for startups to create valuable products that satisfy these innate cravings while incorporating modern technology.

Jeff Hawkins, in his book "A Thousand Brains," argues that the neocortex, the organ of intelligence, is the key to understanding and replicating Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Hawkins asserts that almost all the capabilities we associate with intelligence, such as vision, language, and problem-solving, are products of the neocortex. By focusing on understanding the neocortex and its learning algorithm, Hawkins believes that brain-like AGI is not only feasible but already within reach.

This idea resonated with Andrew Ng, who claims that Hawkins convinced him as a young professor that a simple scaled-up learning algorithm could lead to AGI. Ng's endorsement lends credibility to the notion that AGI is not centuries away but rather starting to take shape on the horizon.

Meanwhile, in a separate discussion, Andrew Chen highlights the importance of finding the intersection between technology and human behavior when building successful startups. He argues that while technology rapidly evolves, human nature remains unchanged, presenting an opportunity for entrepreneurs to create products that tap into people's fundamental desires and combine them with modern technology.

Chen uses the example of Michelin, which initially aimed to provide people with a reason to drive by packaging the destination into a restaurant guide. This approach demonstrates the power of creating something compelling for both friends and families, as well as oneself, in order to generate word-of-mouth marketing. Similar to how CPG companies in the past used advertising and coupons to stimulate demand and solve the chicken-and-egg problem, startups today employ mobile apps to create demand and address the same issue. Despite the evolution of technology, this strategy still holds true.

Chen emphasizes the importance of the three intersections: new technology or platforms, exciting customer behavior, and insights about growth. The first intersection, new technology, refers to the numerous emerging technologies that present opportunities in various sectors, including marketplaces, B2B, mobile, and beyond. However, a breakthrough is necessary to capitalize on these opportunities fully.

The second intersection involves understanding and leveraging customer behavior that engages users and prompts them to share and participate more actively. For instance, the automatic generation of videos when users engage with a product can create more video sharing activities, leading to increased viral acquisition and engagement. This insight demonstrates the potential for growth by tapping into user behavior.

The third intersection brings together the previous two intersections to create something truly captivating. Chen suggests that a growth hack lies in providing users with a visible offline experience that makes them want to use the app. As online channels become saturated, the real world becomes increasingly appealing. By combining new technology, exciting customer behavior, and growth insights, startups can create highly intriguing and attractive products.

In conclusion, while technology continues to change, human behavior remains constant. By identifying the intersection between technological advancements and people's behavior, startups can discover groundbreaking new products that have the potential to shape the next generation of businesses. To achieve this, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Focus on understanding the neocortex and its learning algorithm, as it holds the key to replicating Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and creating brain-like AGI.
  • 2. Seek the intersection between technology and human behavior to create products that tap into people's fundamental desires while incorporating modern technology. This approach will help generate word-of-mouth marketing and address the chicken-and-egg problem.
  • 3. Combine new technology, exciting customer behavior, and growth insights to create captivating products. By providing users with a visible offline experience that makes them want to engage with the app, startups can stand out in a saturated online landscape.

By following these actionable tips, entrepreneurs can navigate the ever-changing technological landscape while staying grounded in the timeless nature of human behavior.

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