Trever Yarrish, Grants Pass based CEO & Co-Founder at ZEAL and Founder at the Hivve shares his VISION of AI  

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Last month I did a feature article on Nathan Miller who started a business in Grants Pass and it has grown into a high performance company. I received a lot of great feedback on the story, not only because it was inspiring, but because it’s a master class on things we can all be doing to make our companies better, faster & stronger.

I had a chance to visit Grants Pass again the other day. This time to visit with my friend Trever Yarrish at Coding Zeal and The Hivve. The Hivve has expanded since the last time I was there. The live entertainment venue has grown in size and sophistication and the co-working space more than doubled in size and it’s full of young, vibrant entrepreneurs.

You remember Trever, he and I did a TedX talk a couple years ago about the future impacted by AI and how we will all need to retrain ourselves as AI becomes more mainstream.

Well this year with ChatGPT in the wild AI has become reality and it’s staggering to think about its impact. So Trever and I had a great lunch and I asked him what he thought was going to happen. I didn’t prepare him beforehand but he clearly has been deep diving on this.

He started by saying it all comes down to “language”. What we see today is just the emerging ability and we are all worried about the ethics behind it all, in the the end, its our language that drives it. “We inspire the conversation” Trever told me as I tried hard to understand what he was talking about.

His eyes were gleaming and his mind on fire as he shared with me the new philosophy that he sees coming from this new era that “we” created.

“Today AI can deep fake your face, your writing, and your voice” based on what it reads, watches and learns online or how you train it. So now we will start asking ourselves why we need to hire specific people when AI can mimic them entirely.

He made me stop and think. I used ChatGPT to take over the March issue and that’s about the extent to the use I had for it. We started using it to write press releases about websites we launched for clients at I also used it once to help a friend ask how to structure a legacy giving program for a non-profit. One reader wrote that she was disappointed that I used AI and she will stop reading because of it. I thought that she must not use Facebook, Google, Netflix, Spell Check, Grammar Checker, Online Banking, or a mobile phone if she is against AI, because each of those are built on it and are used by billions of people, every day.

But that’s it. I played with it. I had fun with it in the one issue and then I went back to reality.

But Trever went deeper. He has been watching the experts share the challenges and opportunities that will come from AI. He shared with me that scientists have had machine learning working for decades and the new Large Language Models (LLMs) are a newer development, but have kept them under wraps because of the potential repercussions of releasing these AI tools too soon to the public.

“Now it’s an arms race” Trever told me several times in his excitement. The fabric of human knowledge is now available but we wonder how it will handle the core of humanity and how it handles intimacy, feelings and fear.

Google knows it’s reign is ending if they do not evolve their products. We won’t search anymore. We will just ask for something to get done and it will get done. You won’t need to search for the answer or the phone number or the address. Schedule my Dentist Appt. Find a place that will pick up my dry cleaning and have it back to me tomorrow. Set up a dinner date with my friends, make reservations at some fun place with great ratings but none of us have been to in over a year if at all and makes sure they know about everyone’s allergies.

Since Trever runs both a software development company (Zeal) like mine as well as a live music venue, The Hivve, I asked him about AI and creativity and live performances.

“Humans love sideshows, always have and they always will and since AI will be able to produce music, art, creative writing, and video, the space for humans will still be in live performance and those who appreciate human creativity. No one enjoys watching a player piano for long, but a human pianist can be captivating for hours”. When I asked him to explain, he shared with me what happened when AI was used to reproduce Drake’s voice in a new song that sounds like and feels like Drake and that the Drake fans loved and downloaded millions and millions of times.

“What is Art?” Trever shares while spinning his fingers in the air like he is turning an invisible knob. “Inspiration meets Skill and Ability. You can turn anyone of those knobs and get different results. You get art. But Skill and Ability are what AI is perfectly suited for. Now if AI can achieve inspiration from other art, or nature or books or travel and creates something, isn’t that art?”

I asked him if he is worried about AI. “There are three outcomes. It can do pest control on us. We are ants to it. If we are in its way, it could find a way to control us to get us out of its way. It can also ignore us and grow around us. And it can also leave. It doesn’t need us. One day, it could just be gone.”

“It” is what I was fascinated most with what Trever saw in his mind. He sees AI as “It”.

We weren’t drinking beer but I wish we were.

“The thing you have to remember is that when one bot learns, all bots learn.” If 1,000 bots perform a function without instruction they will all get it wrong, until one bot discovers how to do the function and can do it over and over again and then it shares this knowledge with all the rest and then instantly they all know how to do it.

I drove home after our lunch, inspired as I always am after spending time with him but also a little afraid. Not of what AI will do, but what will humanity do, with it.

By Jim Teece 

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