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  • Denise Hamilton

Dreamers and Their Dreams

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

The dreamers behind technology innovation are often unheralded—we don’t hear much about how they think or who they are. We experience only the result of their work. Generative AI reminds me of that. If AI were a sentient being, I’m sure it would be humbled by who’s actually coming up with the brilliant ideas.

Before the “dot.bomb” some of us lived and worked through, I interviewed a subject matter expert on a breakthrough idea he had about monitoring applications for online businesses. This was 1999, and a breakthrough it was. I asked Paul how the idea came to him. I assumed it was on a long, long night in front of a computer—or several computers—testing, coding, wracking his brain in a sort of conscious nightmare. I was wrong.

He said it was as he drove through Big Sur, a narrow highway along the coast of California. It’s an idyllic area, known for old-growth forests, winding turns above the wild ocean, seaside cliffs and stunning views. Lose focus and off the cliffs you go. Even Paul seemed a little mystified by how the solution came to him. Why here? Why now? And by the way, I’m pretty sure Paul holds patents, too.

Then I think about a more recent interview with David and Gordon, vertical industry SMEs. They were loaded with new insights, things I hadn’t considered or fully understood. During the interview, I felt my enthusiasm growing, and it built theirs. I “got” them and why their work and ideas mattered. I jumped at the anecdotes, and I knew—without doubt—that readers would find their insights fascinating, too. Near the end of our conversation, one of them said, “I wish we could go to a bar and keep talking over a beer.”

It’s something electric when we connect over ideas, an undeniable and exciting spark between humans. In fact, it’s uniquely human and something that maybe AI can learn from. Because AI sure can’t start these conversations or dream big.

Now, let’s go have that beer.

Song of the Day: Runnin' Down a Dream, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

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