Connie Chan (a16z): How Gen AI Will Reshape How We Learn, Connect, Shop, and Create
A conversation about generative AI's impact on our everyday lives
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How will generative AI reshape how we learn, connect, shop, and create?
Connie Chan is a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) where she focuses on consumer tech. I spoke to Connie about how generative AI will change our everyday lives in:
Let’s dive in.
Welcome Connie! Let’s start with education - how will generative AI will reshape how we learn?
I think it will give everyone a personal tutor in their pocket. AI enables:
1:1 tutoring at scale. Studies show that students who get 1:1 attention perform better than those in traditional classrooms. AI will make 1:1 tutoring accessible.
Rapid feedback loops. Students will be able to get instant feedback on their work instead of waiting days for graded assignments.
Immersive learning experiences. Students will be able to learn from famous figures directly (e.g., Hello History lets people have AI conversations with Cleopatra, Einstein, and other figures from history).
That’s amazing. I think my daughter will definitely enjoy learning more from a Disney princess than from me.
Ha! Some online education platforms already combine animated characters with live instruction. My daughter uses one that teaches concepts through cartoons before transitioning to a live teacher call for problem solving. AI will accelerate this trend.
How can teachers adjust for this new reality?
We’re in a transition period. Some schools have banned ChatGPT while others are carefully incorporating these tools into their classes. I think two things will be true:
Students will find a way. Trying to prevent students from using this new tech is a losing battle.
Teachers will still matter. In-person classes offer social development benefits that computer screens can't replace. Ideally, AI will let teachers automate routine tasks like grading so they can focus on inspiring and coaching students.
I hope both teachers and students can keep an open mind about how this new tech can help us educate the next generation.
Let’s chat about relationships. Studies show that we spend more time alone than ever. Do you think AI can become our social companion like the movie Her?
I do. After all, AI will always listen to you and respond when you need it. Two use cases come to mind:
AI companions. Platforms like Replika offer personal AI avatars. There’s already a subreddit dedicated to AI avatar conversations.
AI therapy. Early research shows that chatbots can treat mental health. In the US, we have a shortage of therapists. AI can offer support to those in need.
Do you think this tech can also help people connect with each other?
Yes. A few examples:
Platforms like Wysa and Mumkin help people navigate difficult conversations and improve their mental health.
AI can be used to deal with the loss of a loved one. It’s not hard to imagine a world where we all have an AI-powered “digital twin” trained on all of our writing and speech.
Let’s talk about shopping next. If I wanted to buy a “stylish gray winter coat for under $500” it’d be nice to just get the perfect match instead of having to sort through a list of links.
Yes, I think AI will make shopping hyper personalized:
Personalized discovery. The more you shop on Temu, the more it tailors the feed to your tastes. It’s like TikTok for shopping.
Personalized product photos. Tools like Flair and Booth generate appealing AI product photos without requiring a photo shoot.
Personalized design. AI can craft clothing and shoe designs better suited to each individual’s tastes.
Eventually, a small business might be able to use a platform like Shopify to build an entire ecommerce store simply by describing it.
Let’s close with the creator economy. I used to think that AI would disrupt the boring repetitive jobs. But it’s actually disrupting the most creative jobs first - like making art and writing content.
That's true, because creative output is subjective. AI-generated art might differ from your expectations, but it can still be delightful.
Today, the top 1% of creators get all the value. Can AI democratize the creator economy?
The top 1% get all the value today because it’s hard to create content, get discovered, and make money. AI can help democratize all three aspects:
AI is already democratizing discovery. For example, it’s much easier for a new creator to get discovered on TikTok vs. YouTube because of TikTok’s algorithm.
Generative AI is democratizing creation. You can use AI tools to write essays, edit videos, transcribe voice, and so much more. These tools decrease the cost of creation significantly.
Monetization will democratize as well. Today, the creator economy is still driven by sponsorships that favor large creators. But more and more knowledge experts are using alternative channels to monetize (e.g., courses, communities).
Being a full time creator is hard and not everyone can do it. I hope that AI will also help part time creators thrive.
Yes, there are many people who have some hobby that they want to share with the world. Lowering the cost of creation will encourage them to give this field a try.
Let’s close by talking about creating video games. How do you think generative AI can help people create better games?
I think the sky’s the limit here. You can use AI to:
Create your avatar. Imagine generating an avatar that reflects who you are.
Create in-game assets. Imagine typing “car” to generate a 3D car asset.
Create a personal storyline. Imagine the story updating as you play the game.
Create smart NPCs. Imagine NPCs (non playable characters) interacting with you and each other through AI.
To wrap up, AI certainly has a lot of buzz right now. How can someone explore this field thoughtfully without giving into the hype?
I think everyone should try using new AI products.
People are always posting crazy, wild use cases on Twitter. It’s OK to read the news stories, but it’s more important to try the products and understand how they work.
It helps that many AI products are fun with rapid feedback loops. For me, it has often made creation even more enjoyable than consumption (e.g., watching Netflix).
Yes, even my parents are using it. My dad recently asked ChatGPT for books to read in retirement. Learning about prompt engineering is also fun!
I love how accessible this tech is. Thanks for your time Connie!
If you enjoyed this interview, follow Connie on Twitter and check out her writing on a16z.
Pete, thanks for inviting interesting perspectives from all walks of businesses. Short-inspired! ✨
Fantastic recommendations shared here.