Adam Cheyer is a top technology and AI speaker, co-founder and VP of Engineering of Siri, and a founding advisor for Change.org. Currently, he is the co-founder and VP of Engineering for Viv, a digital voice assistant that will become the basis for Samsung’s next-generation technology on phones and other devices everywhere. In this episode, Adam talks about the startups he created, how speaking to other entrepreneurs inspires him, and about his discovery that one person really can change the world.
The pace of change is crazy. Isn’t there’s going to be so much that has happened between your talks?
Oh, absolutely. Year over year, the whole industry is changing around us. Just this week, Google announced new technology and products in the AI assistant/smart-home space. Next week, Samsung is going to be having their software developer conference; there will be new announcements there. Every single week, new important things are happening that will shape humanity, and I’m lucky enough to be right in the thick of it.
How do you find the time to stay on top of such a fluid field?
I work, and live, and breathe this every day in my industry. I’m building systems today that will ship on hundreds of millions of devices in the near future…I’m literally working to solve problems and to get out products in major companies every day, and that’s my life. The speaking is sort of on the side. When I choose to accept an event, I like to talk to the group, understand what they’re looking for, what’s their vision for their event, who are the people, what’s the theme of the conference or the event that they’re trying to do, and then I put together, and tailor, a presentation specifically for them.
This gives me a chance to review all my past material, to bring in some of the latest findings on things that I’ve learned since my last event, and to make it fresh not only for myself, which I think is important, but also for the audience.
What’s one takeaway you’ve gotten from your experiences over the years?
It’s literally almost the 10th anniversary of Siri, my first company. At the time, I remember feeling like there’s no way that I can impact the world. I’m just one person. What can I do? A whole world is out there, and I’m powerless really, other than to influence my very small circle around me.
Now, my perspective is: “Of course I can change the entire world for all humanity.” Change.org has a couple of hundred million people. Siri, hundreds of millions of devices, and many billions of queries every week, and Viv Labs I think will eclipse anything I’ve ever done. Reflecting on that, I realize I’m just the same person that I was; in fact, I’m probably dumber, and slower than I was 10 years ago. Yet the thing that’s changed is my belief that “Of course I can impact the world.” Sometimes it’s the confidence and the belief to try, and the confidence to succeed, that makes the difference.
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Dec 13, 2017