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S07 E01 – Curiosity is Human

In this episode, Laura and Doug talk to Paul Ashcroft and Garrick Jones from The Curious Advantage about their AI and curiosity


  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • Six Memos for the next Millennium by Italo Calvino
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Find all of our guests’ reading recommendations at our The Tao of WAO book club.


Important note: this is a lightly-edited AI transcription of the conversation. If you require verbatim quotations, please double-check against the audio!

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:23] Hello and welcome to the Tao of WAO, a podcast about the intersection of technology, society and internet culture with a dash of philosophy and art for good measure. I’m Laura Hilliger.

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:34] And I’m Doug Belshaw. This podcast season is currently partially unfunded, so you can support this podcast and other We Are Open projects and products at Now today’s guests are Paul Ashcroft and Garrick Jones from the Curious Advantage Podcast. They’re both co-founders of the Ludic Group, which is a highly successful business consultancy and have worked with companies such as Novartis and Coca Cola. They’re also the authors of several books, including The Curious Advantage and Digital Humans. So welcome to Paul and welcome to Garrick.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:01:10] It’s great to be here.

Doug Belshaw: [00:01:13] So our first question to guests is always, What’s your favourite book? We’ll start with Paul. And my understanding is that you might have more than one.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:01:20] Yeah. When you say What’s your favourite book? Of course, I’m sure like many of your guests, pretty hard to give you one, so I would narrow it down from three. Uh, my daily reading is Meditations, Marcus Aurelius perhaps for many people, but I just love that, uh, small words of wisdom through the millennia. Um, Catch 22 would be my second choice by Joseph Heller, because I read it at school and I just loved it at school. Um, and I’ve been reading it since, but the one I would, I would choose for today is probably Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. And I think that is just because it is such a intricately woven strategic plot of, well, basically revenge. And it’s a it’s a wonderful book, and particularly in today’s world of 280 character limits, as you get on Twitter and other platforms, in Dumas time, of course, he was paid by the letter, so he just wrote as much as he could. So he ended up with a thousand page book that really probably could have got away with 250 pages.

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:25] And when I was listening to one of your recent episodes of your podcast, you were talking about that and how that’s almost coming back around now. We’ve got things like ChatGPT that have tokens that you have to pay for. So back to the world where you’re paying for for letters and words. Interesting.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:02:40] Absolutely, absolutely.

Garrick Jones: [00:02:41] That’s why we have curious Spelling in English. Do you know that? Because printers were paid by the letter and so you’ve got Silent P’s and a C and a K and a couple of T’s and H thrown in just to make things longer.

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:58] So don’t say this because like, obviously, Laura, as an American, like British and American English. American English is more simpler, isn’t it? It’s like, yes, it’s more fewer letters and stuff. Yeah, it’s more efficient. Yeah.

Garrick Jones: [00:03:10] Colour, of course it should have a u in it.

Doug Belshaw: [00:03:13] Mm. Why don’t we put a PH in that as well. Garrick, what about you. What’s your, what’s your.

Garrick Jones: [00:03:18] Oh thank you also for my three books. I can’t do just one but the three I think I would take on my desert island would be firstly six memos for the next millennium by Italo Calvino, which is the most exquisite book. They’ve actually five because he was asked to give a lecture at Harvard and they found the five in his briefcase just after he died. But the the, the five include things like, um, quickness, lightness, exactitude and multiplicity. And each one of these is an essay and it’s multidisciplinary and written in the most beautiful way. Lightness, for example, begins with the weighing of the soul by the Egyptians, where they where they put the the feathers on one side and one’s heart on the other to decide whether you could go forward into the afterlife. Um, I adore that book and it’s poetic in kind of and very human in very lots of ways that I really relate to. I think the second book is has got to be it’s such, it’s such a geeky book, Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter, which I was introduced to when I started coding as a as a kid at university. And Gödel is the is the mathematician who sort of invested and helped us understand about nested loops, and Escher, the incredible um, artist who drew metamorphosis and drew those pictures of hands drawing hands and things like that and then and it’s all about infinity and nested loops and, and then Bach and Bach’s music and fugues which are also nested in some ways.

Garrick Jones: [00:04:53] And then it’s also about Zeno’s paradox. And it’s this incredible it’s an incredible book. It’s also a metaphorical and artistic and scientific at the same time and floats my boat. Um, and then the last one is more tragic is a book I was introduced to when I experienced some trauma, and it’s by Joan Didion and it’s called The Year of Magical Thinking. And, and they call it one of the greatest secular, um, non-religious texts because it’s a book about she wrote when she lost her husband and her daughter in the same year. And it’s it’s just a profound kind of exposition of how the madness that inhabits the the mind in grief and how she moves through it. And yet, you know, it’s cathartic in the most the way that the best things are. And those, I think would be my best my my three my three books.

Doug Belshaw: [00:05:51] Wow. So there’s a real mix there. I remember trying to get into Gödel, Escher and Bach. My first degree was in philosophy and thought, Oh, I’ll get into this. But it was a it was a it was a tough read.

Garrick Jones: [00:06:03] I’ve been dipping in and out of I grant you that.

Doug Belshaw: [00:06:07] Well, dear listener, we will put these books as ever on our on our book club. Which is a Just follow the link alongside everything else on the show notes later on. But let’s let’s dive into things. Laura, do you want to ask the first question?

Laura Hilliger: [00:06:21] Yeah, because I added this question right before we started and I wanted to ask you to how you met, because it appears that you’ve been collaborating for a while. You’ve written a number of books together, and I was just wondering how how did your collaborative partnership begin?

Garrick Jones: [00:06:39] Over to you, Paul. We’ve got different.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:06:41] I was going to ask you if you wanted to take this story, Garrick, and see if see if they coincide at all our collective memories of this.

Garrick Jones: [00:06:47] You first, our collective memory is very different.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:06:50] Uh, Garrick and I met 20 more in this lifetime. Uh, 20 or more years ago. Uh, we were working for a large consulting organisation at the time. We bumped into each other at a coffee shop. We went out for a Chinese meal and. Yeah, the rest is. The rest is history. Other than to say we pretty much tried to go out for a Chinese meal every single year.

Garrick Jones: [00:07:18] In at least one. I think it’s not that far off. I mean, I was I was doing particular kind of work with large scale collaboration. This is pre-Internet. And Paul was doing similar work in the finance sector and we were both quite young. And and he called me up and we, we he just was very persistent. And, and we did go out for a Chinese, a Chinese meal eventually. And, and then we got to work together in the same in the same area. And, and when I left that business Paul asked me what I was going to do, and I said, Well, I’ll probably set up another business just as I’ve done in the past. And and he said, Well, if you give me six months, what I didn’t know is he was going to marry his wife. He said, If you give me six months, I can come and work with you. And I said, Well, that’s great, but why don’t you come and be my business partner? And that’s how I remember it. Completely unplanned. And yeah, coming up for 20 years and it’s been, as he says, it’s been, it’s been fantastic. And I value it very much and it’s been a great journey. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:30] So for those of you, for those listeners who don’t know the Ludic Group, we’ve said it’s a business consultancy. You’ve, you know, worked with big companies. What kind of things do you tend to specialise in just to kind of frame the discussion?

Garrick Jones: [00:08:44] The three kind of areas mean we like to do soup to nuts type work, but the thing that characterises our work is we believe that it’s impossible for external people to make any change at all within a system, especially when it’s a people based system and it’s complex and connected to processes and knowledge and technology. We think that all change has to come from within. And so the only way that you can possibly bring change to bear in any system, whether it’s a social system or an organisational system or governmental or national system, is through learning. And so what we do is we create opportunities using media feedback loops, you know, all the good MIT, Chris Argyris stuff and online tools. We have platforms and software. One of our businesses, software businesses enables us to do this now, but allows learning to take place. And we call it, you know, for example, we’ve, we’ve had a lot of success with people saying what is digital transformation and how do we enable that? And we usually say, well, there’s enormous amounts of digital stuff going on in your business anyway. People are doing lots of experiments and people are online and people you may have, you’ve got deals with Google and all kinds of stuff going on. And so what we do is we then make that as visible as possible to the rest of the organisation, called it standing on the shoulders of giants and allow the organisation to learn about itself and then take the best of what’s internally and spread it around and mix it up as much as possible. So we’re using those kinds of models and mechanisms to it’s a kind of psychogeographic, highly complex adaptive systems approach, but it’s using media or what we call collaborative based transformation and media based transformation methods to to get things done. And as a result, we can we can do quite big changes to very large systems globally and with quite a light touch. And and the Internet really does help us do a lot of that these days. It’s quite fun.

Doug Belshaw: [00:10:46] And so, you know, you published this book a couple of years ago, The Curious Advantage, and then you’ve got the podcast as well. How did Curiosity bubble up? I mean, you must have seen that this was the the differentiating factor within organisations. Like how did Curiosity? Was it just one day you realised like, Oh, curiosity seems to be the, the thing which makes the difference here, Like how did, how did that come out.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:11:10] Yeah, I suppose yes and no. So a name we should, we should put it in at this point is Simon Brown who currently he’s our co-author on The Curious Advantage and he is currently chief learning officer at Novartis. And we’ve been working with Simon for years. You mentioned Novartis for many years, um, particularly around the learning space and helping them sort of use learning strategically to transform their business. And Simon does an amazing job at that. Um, and we were having a conversation with Simon about how he is going big on learning. And originally we were going to write a book all about how they are going big on learning. But as we spoke more about it and again, this thing was over, a couple of glasses of wine and a meal, we discovered actually the real crux of it was about curiosity. And so in the end, the book became all about curiosity and how you essentially can be use curiosity to be more successful.

Doug Belshaw: [00:12:09] So using that as a lens seems to open up conversations for you, like conversations that wouldn’t necessarily happen otherwise. Yeah.

Garrick Jones: [00:12:17] I mean, What Paul talks about the glasses of wine, but there was also quite a lot of research that was going on. You know, we, we did a multidisciplinary trawl through everything that was going on about learning and impacts on learning organisation and so on. And one of the things that we discovered, you know, as Paul says, was was curiosity was coming up time and time and time again, whether at the personal level or the social level or the organisational level. And so we, we put all of our research into these clusters and these clusters. Five of them began with the letter C, things like, you know, creativity and criticality and confidence. And then we just, we played a game and just thought it would come up with everything, you know, with the letter C, And so we came up with things like context and creativity and so on. And that led to a thing called the model, which is the Seven Seas of Curiosity and the Seven Seas, of course. And that’s a great metaphor for sailing the seven seas and so on. And that’s kind of what stuck. It really was our lockdown pandemic project as we wrote this together and figured it out and discovered that curiosity was at the heart of so much of it and it became curiosity. It’s now become a movement and it’s a thing and everybody’s talking about. There’s lots of research going on in ways that weren’t, and we don’t claim to have been there first, but we really were part of the initial conversations about, okay, so what is this curiosity thing and how does it have an impact on our lives and how does it have an impact on the digital world that we inhabit? Very important.

Doug Belshaw: [00:13:58] So some people mean. I wrote my thesis on digital literacy. And one thing that people love to ask is, could you define this thing? Which is quite nebulous for me? Do you have a definition of curiosity, or is it just the kind of thing where you know when you see it?

Garrick Jones: [00:14:15] Well, there are. Formal definitions of curiosity, you know, psychological definitions of curiosity. Some are very classical and some are very open and some are very neuroscientific and so on. But we’ve come to our definition, which is that curiosity is an attitude of wonder coupled with a spirit of exploration. And we really believe that more and more, because real curiosity is not only about wondering what’s over the hill, but, you know, getting up and going and climbing the hill and looking over the hill to see what’s there. And it’s with everything, the learning of language to learning a new instrument or, you know, playing a scientific game, whatever, you’ve got to go and explore and explore the context and lay down new neuro scientific layers and connections in the brain to be curious. Otherwise, you’re just wandering about and staring into the aether. And it’s a it’s a mind game. It’s not a real game. It’s a real curiosity, we’ve discovered is has got a very physical get up and go. And it’s interesting because the the origins of the word curiosity, certainly in English, come, you know, right out of the ancient Greek and the Roman and so on, an ancient Greek word, you know, things like oestrus and the idea of curiosity being like a gadfly that annoys the cow. So it’s got to constantly flick its tail and move or. Curiosity being like the person. It’s a sight, a circular thing. It keeps on coming round and round and round and you work away at it or curiosity being like going in and changing things. So, so it really has those roots. It’s a very physical, active thing, the idea of curiosity.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:16:03] Historically, of course. Do you know where it first first appeared, at least in the English language, to our knowledge. In Shakespeare, they talked about, you know, we talk about curiosity killed the cat. Yeah. Why do we say curiosity killed the cat? Well, it’s not. Curiosity killed the cat. And in Shakespeare wrote the care. Care killed the cat, and it sort of became curiosity, killed the cat. And I think this was it was at a time where it was actually a bad thing to be curious. We we probably can remember we could be grateful that we live in a time pretty much in many parts of the world, at least, that it’s okay to be curious. It’s okay to ask questions of each other, of the society, of our government and so on. But it hasn’t always been that way. Not that long ago. We find that. We find that quite, quite, quite, you know… we’re lucky to live in a time where we can be curious.

Doug Belshaw: [00:16:56] That is interesting because the word innovation I remember reading came out of like a criticism like, oh, people are innovating with the scriptures or whatever. Like innovation was seen as a bad thing. And then all of a sudden it becomes a good thing and you’re saying the same thing. I didn’t know that happened with with curiosity. Interesting.

Garrick Jones: [00:17:13] Well, it’s you know, it’s the old thing of of of who wants to control who in society and how do you achieve that in a kind of, you know, totalitarian or fascist type situation where you don’t want or even religious totalitarianism, where you don’t want people to be questioning or asking things. So then these things become bad for the very reason why they’re very good for us. You know, it keeps us open, it keeps us distinct, it keeps us individual, it keeps us inquiring, and it doesn’t allow us to accept truth that is given to us on a plate. It asks us to be inquisitive and to question everything in a way that, you know, leads us all forward in a good way, not necessarily to the interests of just a few.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:17:59] Doug, so I think when you ask why did we become fascinated with curiosity? And I think part of that is that if you speak to people, many, many people will say either, Yeah, I’m a really curious person and you ask them to articulate, well, you know, why are you actually good at being curious? Or they’ll say, Oh, I used to be curious when I was a kid, but I’m I’m not so curious anymore. Quite a few people fall into that camp, too. The research says that our peak curiosity is around four years old, and after that it pretty much dwindles away for for lots of reasons we can get into, if you would like. We were fascinated with the idea of curiosity in a sense of how can you be more successfully curious? Is it something you can actually get better at? Can you work it like a muscle in the gym, get fitter, stronger, and use it in your life to be more effective? And we think through the research we found that you can and this is what we wanted to explore, this idea that actually as adults, even we can learn again to be curious and how to be successfully curious. So that’s what we were researching and that’s really what we wanted to write about.

Garrick Jones: [00:19:05] It’s fascinating how I think the curious and the innovative were relegated to the ninth level of hell, which is the worst hell in Dante’s Inferno. And because they want to mess with the with the structures. So they, they, they want to keep things open. And it’s one of the things I like about and I’m attracted to the work that you do and your, your your focus on openness. But the the other great thing about curiosity is that it actually has physical impacts on us. So neuroscience keeps our neuroplasticity open. And the the thing about is we think there’s research showing that it has an impact on Alzheimer’s and also dementia. So curiosity as a practice is something that should be encouraged. At the same time, there’s also social impacts. If you’re curious and you ask curious questions, it leads to less friction. In an organisational system, people are more asking questions which which allow people to be more open and not necessarily being critical and then the the other thing is there’s well-being. There’s a link. Paul likes to talk about the vagus nerve and our vagal vagus tone, which we have in the body from this incredible nerve that goes down our our back. And the vagal tone is stimulated by curiosity specifically, which has then parasympathetic impacts on our body of wellness and strength and calmness and and all kinds of other good stuff. So there’s a there’s a case to be made for, for curiosity being something that makes us live longer and live better.

Laura Hilliger: [00:20:46] I would like to now throw in the relationship between curiosity and frustration because as you were talking and I was just sort of thinking about what’s the difference between curiosity and the physical world versus curiosity in the digital world. If we’re thinking about how businesses grow and change and can be more impactful, innovative. Create synergies, whatever, you know, how curiosity plays out in business versus real life. And then you said that, you know, impacts our health in a particular way. And I’d love to explore a little bit what what is the relationship between curiosity and frustration and that sort of online, offline, the differences in types of curiosity depending on the context that you’re that you’re in. I wasn’t really a question. It was more of a no. I don’t know where to go with this.

Garrick Jones: [00:21:41] I mean, I can answer some of that.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:21:44] Yeah, go ahead, Garrick.

Garrick Jones: [00:21:45] I was going to say. The,The thing that you stimulated about the frustration is frustration is often related to context. We don’t know or something is working out the formal definitions around something working out contrary to what our expectation is. And the thing about being curious is that it allows us to not answer those questions first. It allows us to go into a situation and ask questions and be open and have before we become frustrated. If you’re becoming frustrated, it’s probably worth stepping back and going, what is my expectation of this, of this outcome that is not in line with what what’s happening, which is not in line with what I’d like it to be. Curiosity really helps us navigate those kinds of difficult waters on the health care side. Paul.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:22:37] Yeah, I was going to add one thing into the frustration part. So approaching problems with an attitude of being curious about it typically helps almost universally whether you are in a queue at a supermarket and you just choose to be curious about it. If you are having trouble learning something, there’s research that shows if you just approach that with a curious mind, you tell yourself, I’m curious about it. You will retain more information and you will learn better, faster. Um, but on the so it’s generally good to approach things with a curious mind. Um, people can experience frustration within themselves about their ability to be curious. So they get stuck and they often will get stuck because they go into a topic and they’ve got information overload. They don’t know where to, how to filter, they don’t know where to go next. They are they’re running out of ideas. They don’t know who to talk to to get further. They’re you know, they want to learn a new skill. You do? I You do. I work with. And these are some of the things that we we then address through the research, you know, who’s who’s the community that helps you? How do you curate the information around you? How do you bring in different ideas to be more creative? So these are some of the elements that unlock some of the frustration. Um, specifically one, one idea that we came across in the research from Jackie Bressi, who teaches university, talks about how curiosity is an emotional emotion regulation technique. If you are curious, then you are better at regulating your emotions. Your heart rate tends to decrease. You tend to be more confident in the way you go about things and you deal with stress better. So this is in in Jackie’s research, which is fascinating as well. Um, essentially you can hack your own biological system just by being curious.

Laura Hilliger: [00:24:31] So I find this really interesting from the technology perspective because we, we are open. We also work with a lot of organisations that are going through digital transformation that are, you know, we are very much, as you were talking earlier, about the types of consultancy that you do where it sounds like we’re very much aligned, Like we’re also like it’s not about the tech, it’s about the people and the processes, etcetera. Um, but the curiosity thing is really interesting. A lot of the charities that we’ve, that we’ve worked with going through digital transformation, um, a place where we often find conflict has to do with the up levelling of skills around a tech simply so you know, we, we work with global organisations that have a wide range of digital literacies from people who, you know, have a six year old browser and are trying to use a modern day web app and don’t understand why the web app just won’t load for them. Um, all the way to people who, you know, are literally programming a large language learning models. Et cetera. Et cetera. And this curiosity piece with technology is so interesting because I can certainly see that people who tend to be more techie, um, they, it seems like when it comes to technology, their curiosity and frustration can intertwine in a really interesting way. So like, I know tons of developers who will just go down a rabbit hole of frustration because they are curious as to why the thing they’re trying to do doesn’t work. And it’s it’s both. It’s it’s kind of both of these feelings mixed up. And I think that’s, um, you know, if we’re talking about how to, how to help people be curious, there’s something there around helping people find creativity in the process or actually push against their own boundaries of curiosity.

Garrick Jones: [00:26:33] That’s a great insight. The thing I think of is curiosity and learning about curiosity or just the Seven Seas model, for example, which is, um, just gives you tool. It gives you a tool kit and gives you new language if you like, to help you approach a situation. Um, we’ve done quite a lot of work, um, with, with senior leaders on how to ask curious questions and how to be a curious leader because the whole context has changed. You talk about technology, we’ve got young people, um, I hate to use the word millennials, but there we go. But we’ve got young people who live in a digital world and they are digital natives. In other words, I’m not keen on. But there we go. But and the and but people who are living in a matrix and who are living in a networked world unlike anything we grew up with and I certainly grew up with. And yet they still need to keep it open and they still need tools to be able to discover, not be frustrated, and also learn things that are way beyond their comfort zone.

Garrick Jones: [00:27:36] Because the learning based learning takes place where we slightly out of our comfort zone and that needs to be normalised. And so curiosity gives us tools and toolkits and language for helping us do that and certainly helping leaders work with this new, young, exciting, amazing connected generation of young people, um, encouraging them to be curious and encouraging them to ask things and understanding that the way that we were taught to, to run businesses with a pyramid structures and all that is completely gone. It’s out of the window. What we have are the multitudinous connections, clouds of people linked and organisations that tribes organisations have people who are right there all the time and people who peripherally there and all of it is relevant and all of it works. And how do you enable this this cloud to achieve things? Well it questions help to question is the answer is how we finish the book. But curiosity gives you a a one way in to enable people to ask questions in a way that enables the entire thing to achieve something together.

Doug Belshaw: [00:28:47] It’s so right now, as we’re recording this episode, my son is sitting his one of his computer science thesis papers. And one of the things that you said there, Garrick, reminded me about a conversation that I had with someone who used to be a developer on my team, and it’s about the kind of mutability of everything. So developers and people who see the world through a technical eyes in a way that Steve Jobs summed up by saying, if you look at the world around you, everything was pretty much created by people no smarter than you. Things can be changed, whatever. And in programming you can take something and change it into something else. And that’s such an amazing like curiosity, curious mindset to to have to be able to literally change this thing into something else on a screen. It feels very powerful to be able to do that. And I feel that there’s a there’s an amount of agency won’t use that word yet, but an amount of agency that people potentially need in their life to be able to to be curious about stuff and not live within the strictures which they’ve had up until this point. And one of the things I’ve seen with people’s reactions to AI and the binary between being a doomer about it and being really curious and experimenting with it comes through the amount of agency that you’ve had before experimenting with it. And I wondered whether there was anything about agency or mutability that you wanted to talk about.

Garrick Jones: [00:30:11] I mean, I’m going to ask Paul to answer some of the questions about AI because we’ve been doing a lot of work and speaking to some incredible people about that recently. But the thing about agency is, is perfect and spot on and kind of beautiful as well, because there is some wonderful research that has come out recently about teaching curiosity to children, young people at school and teaching people to be curious has and giving them those tools is already starting to have a greater impact from kids who come from underprivileged backgrounds, then kids who come from privileged or normalised backgrounds, if you like. And the reason for that is it because it opens up context, opens up ability to learn language and gives them permission and agency to go into the world in a way that they may not have been socialised to do because of that background. So the idea that teaching young people curiosity can have a massive effect and an inordinate effect on young people from underprivileged backgrounds to me makes me very happy because I think it gives people agency, as you say now, to to take that further and say that that agency and the idea of permission and the idea of confidence is right at the heart of some of the AI responses I think is fascinating to the final C in our model is confidence and that you you take the first steps and then you learn a bunch of stuff and then you take the next steps and you kind of overcome your fight or flight fright situation. The idea is confidence is built through experience, and all of that plays into agency, which is a beautiful thing. What do you think, Paul on the AI side?

Paul Ashcroft: [00:31:51] Okay. Yeah. I can ask specific on the I want to say something about Laura’s question earlier about frustration as well with technology, which maybe gets into the AI thing as well. Um, for, for me, often that’s about mismatch expectations. Isn’t it curious that if you are an expert in technology then it’s the technology’s fault when something goes wrong. Whereas if you don’t consider yourself an expert in technology, you’re quite happy to to put the blame on yourself. The reason my phone doesn’t work is because I’ve done something wrong. Uh, if my. My son. I have a similar age son. Doug. Uh uh. Can’t do something on his computer. It’s the flipping computer’s fault. Absolutely. It must know what to do there. And I think that’s a little bit about criticality. One of the. The C’s about curiosity is being aware of your own biases and being able to. And this gets to the questioning, um, because we are quite happy to just accept what we already believe is true. And that’s where our curiosity starts to fall away because we don’t challenge perhaps what we think we already know. But then to go on to the AI side of this and it does link to criticality. The one part that we’re really finding fascinating is at the heart of curiosity, I think is Garrick said is asking better questions. Okay, So the better you ask questions, whether you’re a leader, whether you’re a friend, whether you’re a partner in a relationship, chances are the better outcome you’re going to get back. Isn’t that true from GPT and the other generative AI tools that we’re using at the moment, and we’re now training people to become prompt engineers. So the skills, the new skill, one of the new skills that we’re learning around this stuff is you guys will know is about being a better prompter of the technology.

Doug Belshaw: [00:33:40] That’s quite it was quite a flippant comment, but someone was saying, Guys, we’re okay because for people to replace agencies and freelancers with AI, clients need to know what they want in the first place and be able to ask the right questions so there’s no way we’re going to be replaced.

Garrick Jones: [00:33:58] No, that’s right I saw a wonderful thing about the designers who were all concerned about, you know, the designers stood up and said, you have to remember, every client we ever worked with never knows what they want. We have to guide them and ask questions and get them to a point. So the idea that they’re going to know how to ask the right questions to get the right outcome they’re looking for is ridiculous. It’s like designers are here to stay. What’s changing is the way things are just constructed. I don’t think we’ve got anything to be afraid of. I’m a little bit of a conspiracy theorist when it comes to who’s asking us to slow down the the public recognition of AI because that’s been released into the public sphere. Well, most of those are governments, military and oligarchs. So you have to ask, well, you know, what’s that about? Is that because there’s money to be made and they’d rather slow down the speed at which things are happening? Who knows? I just put that out there. But the I was concerned about, you know, Jeff, who left Google because he his biggest concern is what’s happening in the military. And he’s particularly offended by the idea that minefields can become living systems and self-healing. And the idea of self-healing minefields is offensive to him and everything that he means. It means to be human to him. And I applaud that kind of humanity. So let’s let’s have a look at where it’s applied and how it’s applied and whether we need to put some brakes on around the policy about how these things are, what it’s allowed to learn. But mean. Having said that, you know, the the advent of white goods and washing machines and ovens and things changed the the lives of women a hundred years ago. What is the advent of ChatGPT and other AI tools going to do for us in this in this century? I think it’s something similar.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:57] Well, if the I mean, I used to teach history. I’m a historian by training as well. If a teacher is anything is that it’s going to entrench and reinforce people who have already got power and give them even more power. Unfortunately, that’s always been the way. And let’s hope it’s going to be different.

Doug Belshaw: [00:36:14] There we go.

Doug Belshaw: [00:36:16] There’s so many more questions, which I and I’m sure Laura would like to ask you things about curiosity and creative play, leading a curious business going into the seven Seas. What you’re currently curious about, maybe we’ll finish on that. Like I know you use that at the end of your podcast, so maybe that’s something to flip around to to you too. So, um, and then Paul, what are you what are you curious about at the moment?

Garrick Jones: [00:36:41] I’m currently I’m curious about, about a series of recipe books that were published in Italy in 1978 on a paper that is made from recycled pulp and with cardboard and which had these amazing images on. And these are called the Boca Series. So from every area, Liguria in Bocca and Romania, in Boca and Amelia in Boca and Napoleon and Boca. And the idea was it means in the mouth. And each of these recipe books, I’ve discovered, are full of kind of collages. It’s unlike any other recipe book you’ve ever seen in your life. And yet they have verbatim recipes in the colloquial languages which are hardly spoken anymore. And then in modern Italian and then also in English, and they’re hand printed and they’re a hell of a difficult to get hold of. And they’re only 23 in the series. But my God, um, you can just cook incredible things from them because they’ve got all these ancient recipes in and it’s very beautifully you know told like fill a bowl of water with artichokes, cook them in the usual way, but then put the following sauce made from anchovies and butter on them. You know, it’s that kind of thing. I’m absolutely astonished by them and super curious about the whole world. How these books can lead you into a world that you didn’t know existed.

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:08] Fantastic. And Paul, what about you?

Paul Ashcroft: [00:38:11] I think mine at the moment is healthspan is, I guess in a word. We ran a recent think tank where we were looking at longevity and how we are living longer lives, but sadly not necessarily healthier lives. And so I’m really as a almost experiment on myself and have done for many years been fascinated about what can you do with your own body, with your own wellbeing and mental health to keep you personally healthy as long as possible. So that’s kind of my practice, but also what I tend to read a lot about as well and try and instil in my children as well.

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:49] So not the lifespan, the health span of think.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:38:52] If you look after your health span and you avoid fast moving vehicles approaching you in the wrong direction, then you will be lucky enough hopefully to increase your lifespan. Excellent.

Doug Belshaw: [00:39:03] Okay. Well, that’s been fantastic. Really interesting. If people want to find out more about you both and about the book and the podcast, where should they? What should they type into their their favourite browser etcetera.

Garrick Jones: [00:39:17] will bring you to the website. And also there’s a think tank also associated with that which takes off on June the 20th with its online edition. We’re trying to bring together as many people as possible around curiosity, academics and practitioners and all kinds of things to keep the conversation moving forward and learn as much as we can.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:39:39] If you want to hear about you want to read about our work, then you can find us at Ludic. Ludic

Doug Belshaw: [00:39:48] Wonderful. Well, thank you very much. And we hopefully will get you back on here again sometime soon. Cheers for now!

Garrick Jones: [00:39:53] That’ll be fun.

Paul Ashcroft: [00:39:54] Real pleasure, Thank you.

Laura Hilliger: [00:39:55] Thanks so much.

Garrick Jones: [00:39:56] Thank you, Laura. Take care!