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BizCast 52: Everything A.I. with Coulee Tech’s Rod Holum

Episode 52

Everything A.I. with Coulee Tech’s Rod Holum

About BizCast Greater La Crosse

We bring you news from the business community. From startups to experienced problem solvers, you’ll get in-depth insight on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Greater La Crosse. Our show is a collaboration between and BizNews Greater La Crosse ( ).


Artificial Intelligence is all the buzz, as nearly every software takes on an A.I. component. Schools are discussing how to detect if a student or the computer wrote a paper. Non-artists have A.I. creating pictures they describe. Even podcasts like this one uses A.I. to remove “ums” and “ahs.” And everyone is worried, ‘Will I be replaced by A.I.?’ So, we talked with local A.I. expert Rodney Holum, with Coulee Tech. We discuss how, if you’re not embracing A.I., you will be left behind. We also talk about how A.I. is integrated into everyday business operations and the various A.I. models — their uses, potential ethical issues and how A.I. will impact the workforce in the future. Holum also discusses his book on A.I., and the workshops conducted that aim to make A.I. more approachable and useful for businesses. If you want to attend Holum’s classes on A.I., check out the Coulee Tech website.

Full Transcript [generated by AI]

[00:00:01] Rodney Holum: I can tell you people that use AI, still, there’s still a lot of work associated to it. It automates a lot of the simple stuff like templating, but it doesn’t replace the human ability or knowledge base that’s needed into it.

[00:00:12] Rodney Holum: You can go experiment with it, play with it. But even just force yourself for one or two questions a day. Ask it, all right, how can I solve this?

[00:00:20] Vicki Markussen: welcome to BizCast, Greater La Crosse, a weekly podcast from BizNews. We bring you news from the business community. I am your host and founder, Vicki Markussen. My guest today, Rod Holum. He is the CEO of Coulee Tech, but he goes by the butt kicker of cyber security. So we have to explain two things.

[00:00:41] Vicki Markussen: First of all, what drew me to you as a guest is your work with artificial intelligence. However, cyber security was where you started. And it’s all intertwined, but for the average listener, what is cyber security?

[00:00:55] Rodney Holum: So cyber security is making sure that hackers can’t make you pay them. So that way you get your data back.

[00:01:00] Rodney Holum: In today’s world the computers themselves are the low cost component of what you’re doing. I often tell new clients that I’m working with, if I gave you one choice where you have all of your computer hardware, but none of your data, so none of your databases, none of your emails, none of your power policies and procedures, if I gave you every piece of computer hardware you have back, but you don’t get any data, or I have a USB drive with every piece of data you have, and so forth.

[00:01:21] Rodney Holum: Every policy, every sales quote, everything you have, we have to go to best buy and buy all new equipment. What would you get? 99 percent of them will say, I need my data, I can buy new equipment. I can’t recreate all my data from my entire business. So in our today’s world, our data is a, the actual component you’re trying to protect and that’s what hackers try to.

[00:01:39] Rodney Holum: hacks in Israel and Easters and Vicki Markussen, BizCast,

[00:01:49] Vicki Markussen: greater La Crosse and Vicki Greater La Crosse, Vicki, Markussen. solution? Is that the same type of thing that we’re talking about or is it more specific than that?

[00:02:06] Rodney Holum: 90 percent of all cyber breaches do come in through an email attack because it’s the most easy access into most businesses that especially a sales or customer service protective, They used to open up PDFs and files like that, and most of the end users At the end of the day, you have to realize that a hacker is just a business person somewhere else in the country.

[00:02:27] Rodney Holum: They need to monetize whatever they’re doing in some way. The easiest way, with the advent of Bitcoin, is for them to lock up all your data and then tell you they’ll sell you the key to it. And if you don’t do that Hostage. Yeah. So with all the key, you can’t access any of your data. So you’re forced to recreate it.

[00:02:45] Vicki Markussen: Got it. So, you then started talking about artificial intelligence out on social media, and you wrote a book. So, for people who are not paying attention, because to me artificial intelligence is the buzz, what is artificial intelligence? How would you define it?

[00:03:06] Rodney Holum: So artificial intelligence comes with a number of different forms.

[00:03:10] Rodney Holum: Everyone has been using artificial intelligence for years. If you go on YouTube, you get your video’s all pre curated to the type of stuff that you like, right? If you start looking at cute puppy pictures, all of a sudden, every one of your videos are a cute puppy picture. Whereas if you like any looking at CPA information, or if you like business growth information, AIs have been in our life for a very long time, but they have been exclusively the domain of multi-billion dollar companies for the most part.

[00:03:35] Rodney Holum: When I became very interested in AI, was probably around 2020 when AI started to come out of the reach of the multi-billion dollar companies and You started getting large language models and applications that can be used by day to day businesses, which are where a lot of my clients are. So I got asked a lot hey, can we integrate this AI or should we do this?

[00:03:56] Rodney Holum: And it was a very fascinating field for myself, so I spent a lot of time. Focusing just, all right, what can and can’t small businesses use AI for? Yeah,

[00:04:06] Vicki Markussen: it seems like almost everything is starting to incorporate AI and I know probably about the same time that you started looking into it, I started using Otter, which is a transcription, basically you hit record and all of a sudden you have a transcript and now it’s getting, every time I go in there, it’s more and more robust.

[00:04:23] Vicki Markussen: Give me a summary of this, give me. Highlights. And and so they keep adding more and more. It’s getting added to Microsoft. So any idea why this has exploded so quickly?

[00:04:35] Rodney Holum: Every time the new AI comes out, you gain capabilities for those that are actually developing the AI. So, I believe it was in 2022, the head software developer for Tesla does all their AI self-driving said that 80 percent of all the code that he writes is written by an AI, whereas only 20 percent of the code that he’s writing.

[00:04:51] Rodney Holum: So that means that in one year, he’s able to produce five year’s worth of software development now. So, with that type of capability, you have extremely knowledgeable individuals that are now able to do five times what they used to. So, then the next year they go ahead and develop another piece of AI software.

[00:05:06] Rodney Holum: Now all of a sudden they’re able to five times themselves again, and they keep, so the speed of increase in capability we’re seeing from these come both from they learn more, they get more data access, they find new ways of solving what was their previous ceiling from a capability perspective, and we will see Moving forward for, as far as until we get up to what’s called AGI, which is a general intelligence of artificial general intelligence, where then the AI themselves are writing the AIs that move forward, and then it’ll be just really limited by how much electricity and processing power you have from what the capabilities are, but Yeah, I would anticipate seeing a 5 10x improvement of AI year over year for the foreseeable

[00:05:46] Vicki Markussen: future.

[00:05:47] Vicki Markussen: Because what gets interesting about that is, we were talking earlier about pain points, right? Innovation happens where there’s pain points, and in programming, a lot of times it’s the programmers, having enough programmers. And so, the programmers have figured out how to let’s just say replicate themselves and now it’s really the innovation that’s happening.

[00:06:07] Vicki Markussen: So, which of the programmers are innovative enough to say now that we have enough programmers, where can we take this? So where? Since you’re monitoring this, where is there a particular area where you have seen the most innovation?

[00:06:23] Rodney Holum: Language models over the last year to have become the. The most disruptive, I would say, and that’s where you’d see GPT or a Google bar that’s coming out or even Copilot and language models.

[00:06:35] Rodney Holum: I often equate to it’s basically a room full of a bunch of college level English professors. They can write perfectly. They can do that. Their limitations comes in and that they don’t do math correctly, right? If you gave advanced physics to a room full of college English professors, they might not be excellent at it.

[00:06:53] Rodney Holum: Now, they could write a book on it. And as long as they had someone to tell them information, they could write it out perfectly. Same with policy and procedures. They know English rules, they know English languaging, but they don’t have the real-world knowledge of those other fields from a practical perspective.

[00:07:07] Rodney Holum: So, language models are the big ones that when people say AI, it’s normally what they’re referring to. And especially from a business world of what can they actually use today? Language models are 99 percent of what I’m talking to business owners with from an implementation perspective, what they can do.

[00:07:21] Rodney Holum: What’s a shovel ready today. And

[00:07:25] Vicki Markussen: the realms that I’ve heard it talked about are, is this going to replace workforce? And then the other one is, how does education work with this? Because you have a lot of students who would love to use that or probably are using that for their homework. So, let’s tackle those one at a time.

[00:07:41] Vicki Markussen: Where do you think artificial intelligence is going to impact? the workforce.

[00:07:45] Rodney Holum: So, I would first go back to when the calculator came out, everyone thought mathematics was dead, right? That didn’t happen. We actually gained the ability to do much more advanced math because now we have a calculator set.

[00:07:57] Rodney Holum: It opens up those math fields to even more people or people learn how to do math faster. When the internet came out, everyone thought the internet was going to destroy all the people that are using it as good, or they just thought it was completely worthless. Where now we couldn’t use our do our job without it.

[00:08:11] Rodney Holum: In the early 2000s, we had Wikipedia came out where, from an education perspective, I was like, don’t ever go ahead and use Wikipedia, right? Whereas now we use Wikipedia all the time, just to give us a general idea. AI, you’re going to find the same type of thing from a language model perspective.

[00:08:24] Rodney Holum: And what is, it’s in the book that I have, but The phrase that I like to tell people when I’m talking about it is that AI will not replace any of your jobs any more than the internet replaced it, than a calculator replaced it. What will replace your job are people using AI, just like people that are using the calculator, or people that are using the internet.

[00:08:45] Vicki Markussen: One of the areas that I want to make sure we touch on, and maybe we move this impact question from people who are older, who are out of the workforce and go, I don’t really need to know what artificial intelligence is. How do you see artificial AI impacting people who are out of the workforce?

[00:09:03] Rodney Holum: Scams are probably the biggest way that they’re going to be impacted from that. There was a. Case last year where a grandmother in Texas got a call that her grandson was in jail and needed 5, 000 for a lawyer, otherwise he was going to be put into jail. And what happened was some hackers went online, went on Facebook or Twitter or one of the social medias that are out there.

[00:09:23] Rodney Holum: took voice from the student and then put it through an AI and then made a phone call. And they were perfectly emulating the pitch, the tone of that grandson as they were talking to the grandmother and got information back. And you’re going to see from a cybersecurity perspective, we deal with this a lot because up until Probably two years ago, we were always saying just do a phone call to verify that’s who they actually wanted to.

[00:09:46] Rodney Holum: And then that’s a good to go. Now we’re moving into a world where even phone calls themselves can’t be trusted. And it makes it very interesting for a cyber security, but especially like I think of my own grandmother, that if she got a call from one of the grandsons or granddaughters, she would just believe it’s who it is.

[00:10:01] Rodney Holum: Cause we were just not trained to think that someone I can actually talk to. Can’t happen and even in the next couple months or years, we’re going to see video where if you could have a teams meeting with someone and the person on the other side of it actually isn’t there. There’s a full AI, but with enough video, you can emulate their posture, their speech tone, their, so you can’t even believe video chats that you’re having with the real person are the real person. So I would say from a scam perspective, that’s the biggest concern. Those out of the workforce are going to have to become educated on what are the capabilities of AI so they can be cautious about them.

[00:10:39] Rodney Holum: And

[00:10:39] Vicki Markussen: it’s interesting as you say that because in my head, I think, well, yeah, that’s those like silly avatars that you can do on your iPhone, right? It mimics your facial gestures. You can put whatever graphic is there. So that technology is here. We were just talking again before I hit record here about.

[00:10:58] Vicki Markussen: There was a news story about the president’s voice being on a robocall and what’s your prediction as to how quickly, let’s just say, the unethical behavior will start to ramp up?

[00:11:11] Rodney Holum: I think unfortunately this election season is going to be a very you’re going to have a lot of fake news and things like that out, out in the world that they’re going to have.

[00:11:20] Rodney Holum: Robocalls from, and Donald Trump’s gonna call you, Biden’s gonna call you, your governor’s gonna call you and I would almost say the majority of the time, it’s not gonna be the real person that’s there, but it’s gonna sound like them, you’re gonna be able to talk with them, you’re gonna be able to ask them questions, and they’re gonna respond and answer back as if it was actually legitimate, and Even though the person on the other line isn’t, and it’s because they have billions of dollars at stake based off who gets elected, right?

[00:11:47] Rodney Holum: So with those type of campaign dollars, you can build some pretty elaborate AI systems using off the shelf or open source information or software that can emulate this type of stuff. And it costs pennies, not dollars of Its trained perfectly. The first, once you get it trained, basically it can do it a million times, as opposed to like human cold callers, you have to train each one individually.

[00:12:08] Rodney Holum: If they leave, you have to retrain. There’s a training cycle. Yeah, you don’t have that. Once you get it right, it’s good to go.

[00:12:14] Vicki Markussen: This is going to be crazy. It’s already crazy and now you add an AI component and it’s going to be even crazier. So where do you see there being an ethics piece to this?

[00:12:27] Rodney Holum: Ethics is a very interesting side of it because some of you have to determine which ethical framework would you ultimately be using, right?

[00:12:34] Rodney Holum: You have the Hippocratic Oath from doctors where do no harm. So they’re going to go do everything they can to save, but you go to the military doesn’t have, that doesn’t comply with that same type of ethic. They have a different ethical framework. And I think every industry is going to have different ethical frameworks that their industry leaders are going to determine and and even today we have that in, journalism has a different ethical framework than doctors, than IT and lawyers and so every one of those bodies that manage and regulate those ethical boundaries are going to have a different ethical framework.

[00:13:03] Rodney Holum: create processes that are going to determine that, as far as all the ethical standards for the most part, identify like lying is wrong, deceiving is wrong, basically general ethical ones that any ethical frame, most ethical frameworks or any that we’d actually consider worth pursuing would uphold.

[00:13:22] Rodney Holum: And you’re going to have unethical actors in the spaces. That are going to subvert that and we have to be educated enough to know what can AI do and watch out for pieces of software or, in short, have a healthy level of skepticism about almost everything that we see or read to know, is this actually true?

[00:13:42] Rodney Holum: And just because I can see it on 10 different sites doesn’t make it true because AI can put it on 10 different sites. So, you can put it on a hundred different sites. Does that answer your question? It

[00:13:51] Vicki Markussen: does, but it’s mind blowing at the same time. And some of this is hopefully regulated by the software that’s incorporating it.

[00:14:00] Vicki Markussen: And I gave you the example, like I use AI for this podcast. It transcribes it. I. I can delete words and I can also replace words with my own voice, just by typing. However, the software says you can only do it for your voice, you can’t do it for anyone else’s. So, I can’t, I literally can’t put words in your mouth.

[00:14:19] Vicki Markussen: Hopefully, there’s some regulation that’s happening with the software itself, and we let me go back to Impact. We talked about Impact. Even people that are outside of the workforce, this has an impact to them. We touched briefly in terms of where this will impact the workforce.

[00:14:37] Vicki Markussen: Do you see certain areas that this will not replace?

[00:14:42] Rodney Holum: Like Laura, I myself from an overall AI perspective, I think every industry will get impacted from in the next five years. Language models specifically, which is your GPTs, or the things that are doing knowledge-based work that if you’re using a keyboard and mouse to perform it, language models are going to severely, or enhance the capabilities of people doing that significantly, and that people are going to get left behind.

[00:15:08] Rodney Holum: Are those that kind of put their head in the sand and just look, I’m never using ai. I’ve heard it’s not correct. And that’s a common I guess, rebuttal I hear. I hear it can give fake stuff, but have you ever talked to any individual that you wouldn’t believe they could maybe be wrong?

[00:15:22] Rodney Holum: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So we know any person I’m talking to, that person has a possibility of being wrong. But yet we hold AI to a standard that, well, unless it’s a hundred percent correct under every scenario, I don’t ever want to use it. I would really encourage just to treat AI like you would any human.

[00:15:37] Rodney Holum: Use a healthy level of skepticism, find out what is it good at, what isn’t it good at, and learn how you can use it, for one, so you know, what could I improve my own job with? Because all of our jobs are going to be determined by how effectively we use AI. And two, you need to know Another scenario hiring a lot.

[00:16:01] Rodney Holum: I talked to a lot of HR directors and both on the hiring side and people looking for a job, but there was one I was talking with at the department of health and human services where they had a candidate that they thought was just a rockstar, like they’re, they were ready at the end of this interview, they’re going to go ahead and offer them the job, right?

[00:16:15] Rodney Holum: It was just. Perfect for it. They brought him in and what they realized after an in person interview that this person had no idea what they were talking about. But they had used AI to write the cover letter, to research the hiring director, to go ahead and look at the job post and rewrite their resume so that way it matches the job post and then submitted that.

[00:16:35] Rodney Holum: So they looked on paper like a rock star. And then any questions Employment questionnaires are things that were done remotely. They just use AI to go ahead and get the answers to them. So the answers again are perfect. So until you got to a face to face perspective, you had no idea. This person here knew nothing.

[00:16:52] Rodney Holum: And you’re going to, from a hiring perspective and if you’re looking for a job, it’s worthwhile knowing is that AI resumes and AI cover letters, because. Larger firms, they use AI to screen applicants. So the AI, you can tell the AI that, all right, I’m looking for this job. Can you hi, can you make it so that way the keywords inside this cover letter and this resume are going to flag well within an AI screening system, and it will rewrite it so that way it will get to the top of the list.

[00:17:21] Rodney Holum: So it’s, you have to play the game on both sides of it, whereas if you’re like, I just want to do authentic cover letters and that’s fine, but you’re disadvantaging yourself because the AIs that are reading that are not going to put you up even potentially to get a first callback.

[00:17:36] Vicki Markussen: So crazy. Like you’ve removed the human part of applying for a job.

[00:17:41] Vicki Markussen: And so you have this individual I don’t want to reiterate what you just said, but I’m sure that is eyeopening for all of the HR people going, how many interviews do I now have to do to find the truly qualified individuals? Have to create. AI to weed out the AI.

[00:17:58] Rodney Holum: So what we’ve done at Cooley Tech is obviously I first, that was one of the first use cases I saw.

[00:18:02] Rodney Holum: It’s like all of it. If you ever applied a job at Cooley Tech, the job description is written by an AI and it does a great job. It does. So we have questions on there on the initial applicants that I think someone should know. Now, if they use an AI, they’d find it out as well. The first interview is actually a skills assessment.

[00:18:18] Rodney Holum: Because and we let them use AI during the skills assessment Google, because I just want to know, all right, can you get the answer and what is your problem solving capabilities? And if AI is part of your problem solving capabilities, I’m fine with that. I just want to see how can you actually, I’ll give them a problem and All right, come up with a solution at the end of it.

[00:18:35] Rodney Holum: But I think from a hiring perspective if we’re going to focus on that one specifically, we need to redo the hiring process. What actually takes more people, not less, because you need to do more skill assessments and less automation from a PA. So it’s going to be a continual arms race that HR departments ought to implement AI to automate the sifting through of all the hundreds of documents.

[00:18:55] Rodney Holum: Then on the consumer side. They created AI that tricked that AI into getting to the top of the list. So now you’re back to what was the world like before you had any of those systems. You had actual people face to face meeting on there. And it’s a unique instance where AI is actually forcing more people to people interaction and less automation, which is an interesting paradigm if you think about it.

[00:19:18] Rodney Holum: Right.

[00:19:19] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. And until the video AI starts to catch up, right? And then you don’t know if you’re actually on a video call with an actual person. And yeah,

[00:19:27] Rodney Holum: then you’ll have to do in

[00:19:28] Vicki Markussen: person. And then you’ll have to do in person. Yes. So it was interesting along this thought process this week, I just had a speaker on AI talk about how they have a policy on use of age of AI in the workforce, and they wanted to encourage it.

[00:19:46] Vicki Markussen: It was trying to define when to use it and when not to use it. And so from a employer’s standpoint, embracing AI, what do you foresee that that looks like? What do you recommend for companies?

[00:19:59] Rodney Holum: It’s a two fold question. One is you have to have the proper protections in place, and that comes from an employee education perspective.

[00:20:05] Rodney Holum: You can’t put HIPAA data inside of it, or non public information, or PHI information personal health information, or any type of data that needs to be protected. You don’t want to be in these language models, because these language models are all, training themselves to make themselves better off the data that you’re putting in there.

[00:20:22] Rodney Holum: So you could be inadvertently given your competitor all your information if they know how to be creative enough to extract it. Interesting. However, you can depersonalize that information. An example is a let’s say I was an HR director, and I had an employee named Rod Holom that was just I needed discipline.

[00:20:38] Rodney Holum: You wouldn’t say Rod Holom did this. He lives at this address. You’d say employee one nine three or you depersonalize Rod Holom with there’s some I. D. because the. Yeah, it doesn’t care if it has a name or a number or whatever unique distinguisher you’re going to put on it. Depersonalize it. As long as the employees know to depersonalize that information, I don’t think there’s really any limit on what you shouldn’t do.

[00:20:58] Rodney Holum: You’re really just handcuffing your employees. And I know I work with a number of companies that have strict limits on their employees AI usage. I also know some of the employees that are working at those companies, they just go ahead and use it on their phone, or they go ahead and create their, your employees are using it.

[00:21:16] Rodney Holum: You can say all day long you don’t want them to, they are. Students, they’re using it. You’re not going to stop these type of innovations any more than you stop the internet from working, or, any of the innovations that have happened to man. We have to learn how can we use these, how to, What are the incorrect and incorrect ways with realistic examples on why that is and isn’t correct?

[00:21:37] Vicki Markussen: Yeah, and it’s interesting because I had done a post, I think, saying, we, there, there’s a lot of discussion happening in education in terms of It’s the math that your analogy is spot on, right? So it’s the math fear. Oh, they’re not going to know how to do math if we give them the calculator. So that being said, it’s here, it’s being used.

[00:21:58] Vicki Markussen: There’s really no way to tell if it’s being used easily, at least from a teacher perspective. And so my post was, we have to embrace this because the next generation is going to be the one that helps us all take it to the next level. And so we’re trying to suppress something that in my opinion, is inevitable.

[00:22:16] Vicki Markussen: But let me ask you the expert. So you have this next generation, you know, how quickly they grasp technology. How rapidly do you see this changing? You talked about five years. What is 10 years, 15, 20 years look like, do you think?

[00:22:31] Rodney Holum: So five years, I think we’re going to have a world that’s almost indistinguishable from what we’re seeing today.

[00:22:35] Rodney Holum: So that’s the type of level like we talk robotics and language models and AGI, all those things combined. From an educator perspective, and I have kids in high school and I’m about ready to go into the world, the world that they’re moving into is going to use AI as much as we use internet today. You and I are old enough that we remember the Dewey Decimal System and file cards and stuff like that, right?

[00:22:57] Rodney Holum: Yep. And our teachers told us how critical it is to do that, that even when the internet came out, you’re still going to have to go back to the Dewey Decimal System. Yeah, yes, yes. I don’t even know if the library has a Dewey Decimal System anymore, right? They do,

[00:23:07] Vicki Markussen: but yes. They do, all right. Yeah, it’s how you find the books that are actually in the bookshelf, so yes.

[00:23:12] Vicki Markussen: All right, all right,

[00:23:13] Rodney Holum: But if you’re doing a research on a project, more likely than not, you’re actually using the internet. Now, library, not necessarily you’re looking up books or, something. I suppose I’ll get in trouble if I go too far down there, so we’ll just deviate from there.

[00:23:28] Rodney Holum: Most, at least in the business world, most research on what product, what options, capabilities, stuff like that, are all done from a web search capability. Yeah. In two years, almost all that research will be done from an AI perspective. , because I can already, right now an interesting use case was I was speaking to a a healthcare provider who works with patients going through a drug and rehab type.

[00:23:53] Rodney Holum: Mm-Hmm. . So they had a patient that was gonna drive down to Chicago and back. It’s very important for someone in rehab to make sure that they’re hitting their AA meetings and, so what they did is they put into Google Chat, or I’m sorry Google Bing Chat, so Bing Chat, which is now Copilot, that I have a patient going from, let’s say Minneapolis St.

[00:24:13] Rodney Holum: Paul to Chicago on this date leaving at 8 o’clock. Can you show me AA meetings on the way down? And it came back with five AA meetings. One in Tomah, two in Madison, you know, one in Chicago. About the time that they’d be along that hit track. Which was a, it was a, I had never even considered using AI in that type of format.

[00:24:33] Rodney Holum: But from a research perspective and capabilities perspective, that’s. That’s the new Google search, and Bing Chat is one of the forefronters from live search data, like ChatGPT is much more powerful from a data perspective, but its data is three to six months old, whereas Bing Chat has live today data because it starts out all of them with an actual search and then use AI to summarize that search for you.

[00:24:57] Rodney Holum: So the world that our graduates are walking into is going to be entirely AI driven. employers will, in my opinion, either see that and start embracing that, or their competitors will see it, embrace it and put them out of business.

[00:25:13] Vicki Markussen: It and it’s interesting, because that was just explained to me this week, the difference between some of the platforms of you have a platform, my understanding is like chat GPT learns from use.

[00:25:25] Vicki Markussen: And so the more it gets used, the more it learns. And others like you just explained it are going out to the internet and finding information and kind of summarizing it and bringing it back. Is that accurate? Yep. Okay. And so obviously, two very different models. And just as we think, CHAT GPT is the leader right now, something else is going to come out and it’s going to the platforms are going to keep changing and probably building off of each other like Taking information from one and building off of it.

[00:25:55] Vicki Markussen: And so how do we as individuals not fear this? Like we all joke again, you and I are old enough to know the Terminator movies, right? And we’re like, Oh, that’s never going to happen. And here we are. So how do we not fear this?

[00:26:10] Rodney Holum: I think forcing yourself to use it in some way, even if you can.

[00:26:13] Rodney Holum: completely hate AI, right? My wife is a great example and she’ll use it, uh, she’s finally uses it as an example, right? She loves writing, she loves music, she loves art and the idea that Chattopadhyay can make a painting, can go ahead and write or any of that, she just despises it.

[00:26:29] Rodney Holum: Like, uh, you know, she does, you

[00:26:31] Vicki Markussen: know. You’ve taken the art out of the artistry.

[00:26:33] Rodney Holum: Yeah. Yeah. In a way, right? Where as myself, I have a very low written capability as far as my, my writing is probably closer to a 7th or 8th grader than I am a college, I’m a business owner where AI empowers me to be able to speak at a level that is probably closer to my knowledge and capabilities than it would be.

[00:26:53] Rodney Holum: If I didn’t have that, or I’d always have to have if anyone, any of your listeners have ever gotten an email from me they’re laughing their head off right now because they remember he didn’t even capitalize any of this stuff there, and he misspelled four letter words, and anyway so that I would say regardless of what your own personal opinion on it is, gaining experience with it, because what it will do is it will show you that it isn’t, AI isn’t at a point where you can say, Hey, please make me a sales plan and make me a ton of cash.

[00:27:21] Rodney Holum: And then all of a sudden it just goes and does this stuff and all of a sudden money shows up in your bank, right? That’d be amazing. It would be amazing, right? If you watch too many YouTubers, they’re going to tell you that’s what it does. Of

[00:27:28] Vicki Markussen: course, yes. It doesn’t. They have the key to it. It’s like a whole different cyber scam, so yeah.

[00:27:33] Vicki Markussen: It really

[00:27:33] Rodney Holum: is. But until you use it, you don’t see that. So you hear anyone uses AI, your immediate knee jerk reaction is they didn’t do anything, right? I can tell you people that use AI, still, there’s still a lot of work associated to it. It automates a lot of the simple stuff like templating, but it doesn’t replace the human ability or knowledge base that’s needed into it.

[00:27:52] Rodney Holum: And without any experience in it you’re not going to know the difference between those two things. So I would say just force yourself. And Bing Chat is a good one. It’s a free one. You can go experiment with it, play with it. But even just force yourself for one or two questions a day. Ask it, all right, how can I solve this?

[00:28:08] Rodney Holum: How can I do this? Just to get experience with it. So you’re at least educated on the topic.

[00:28:12] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. And it’s interesting as you say that, cause I still go back to, okay, the retirees, right? So there were the classes of how to use the internet. There’s probably going to be classes on how do you use AI.

[00:28:24] Rodney Holum: Yeah, I wouldn’t.

[00:28:25] Rodney Holum: I don’t know if the Tech College is doing one of those yet. But

[00:28:28] Vicki Markussen: pretty soon they just got an idea.

[00:28:30] Rodney Holum: Yeah. But they can also just go on to like YouTube and I guess TikTok. I don’t do a lot on that, but I hear the young folks do. You can just search those type of platforms and they will give you step by step instructions on almost anything.

[00:28:45] Rodney Holum: Like anyone who’s watched the movie, The Matrix, and we’re like, all right, do you know how to fly a helicopter? No, but do you go and learn it quick? And then you do, that’s really, for the most part, what YouTube is for us these days. If you want a quick, hey, how can I do it in five minutes? You can find a three to five minute video to do almost anything.

[00:28:59] Rodney Holum: In AI, there’s a billion people out there making, especially if you’re at the point where you’ve done nothing at all, right? Once you get into the business world, then you want it all. I would say from the business world, like we host a monthly workshop for that or they get the book or there’s a, there’s, or just find some type of peer group that you can show, hey, here’s what I’ve learned.

[00:29:19] Rodney Holum: This works well. And what have you learned? Most of my knowledge comes from talking to different business leaders and just seeing I never thought about using it that way. That’s a unique way. And the more tools I get in my toolbox, well, then I can go ahead and build bigger and bigger use cases for it.

[00:29:35] Vicki Markussen: So that’s a great segue to talking about your workshop and your book and the book came first. So what caused you to say, I want to write a book on this?

[00:29:46] Rodney Holum: So Aaron has, he’s a coauthor of the book with me and he heads up our Eau Claire branch. of Cooley Tech. So him and I were talking last year, we were we had written a couple books.

[00:29:55] Rodney Holum: So we did one on cyber security in 2022. And we use that most of 2022 we were talking about doing a cyber compliance book. But as we were talking about doing that, we’d get more and more requests to speak on AI. And more of my clients were Far more interested in talking about AI than there were cybersecurity compliance.

[00:30:13] Rodney Holum: And I’m like cybersecurity compliance is important, but sure we can do this AI stuff. So after talking to a number of our clients we just decided, that there’s a lot more interest from the community on the AI and how can business use it, and there’s a lot of misinformation almost out there.

[00:30:26] Rodney Holum: Like fears, you mentioned phobias and most of the fears and phobias come from people who have never actually used AI or haven’t actually given it. So we created the book. All right. If I have sitting down with it, it’s geared towards business leaders, but if I was going to sit down with a business leader and I wanted to spend, I don’t know, a week where they’ll spend an hour a day and just go and do an actual workshop, I What would they do?

[00:30:48] Rodney Holum: So this starts you out with Bing Chat. It’s free. You can go ahead and it gives you a bunch of prompt attempts so you can get some different use cases for it. We show different examples for you. We show and we also interviewed five different business leaders in the community on how are they using it from a day to day perspective.

[00:31:03] Rodney Holum: Yep.

[00:31:03] Vicki Markussen: So the name of the book is Wisconsin’s AI Leadership Blueprint for 2024 AI Playbook, real world use cases and work book training for leaders. And then you have a workshop that I’m guessing addresses a lot of the topics that are in this book. Yep. Yeah,

[00:31:21] Rodney Holum: we had our first one this morning, we had about 15 people show up to it.

[00:31:24] Rodney Holum: And yeah, it was a great discussion. We talked, gave some examples on We went through the one that we talked about earlier was both creating a cover letter as well as how can you as an employer go ahead and create a post and review those with AI and how do you need to do that? Showed some of the people there, here’s how these young folks are going and creating their cover letters and this is why they’re scoring so well in your AI systems.

[00:31:47] Rodney Holum: And here’s what you need to do to change that. So we went through a lot of different use cases and every month, like next month, one of the things that they wanted is a co pilot, which anyone hearing is starting to see that pop up all throughout your Microsoft suite. So we’re going to be doing a deeper dive into how can you use co pilot and what is it?

[00:32:05] Rodney Holum: And for the, your listeners that’s really just Chat2PD 4. 0 embedded right into the Microsoft suite Microsoft Office suite or 365 suite, whatever they’re used to calling that. So we’ll take a deeper dive into that. We want to look at a Google Bards a little bit more. We didn’t spend a lot of time out of this morning and then just really a workshop time.

[00:32:22] Rodney Holum: So I want the participants coming to come with some type of use case that they’re trying to solve within their business. So a lot of the individuals that were there were from some of the larger employers here that. their leadership or tell them, look, tell us how we can actually employ this, because every single software you’re talking about is talking about, Hey, I have this brand new AI, which is a great marketing word, but word, but how do you actually like all right, what do I actually do with it?

[00:32:45] Rodney Holum: And why does it actually make my life better?

[00:32:47] Vicki Markussen: Yeah, absolutely. And how often do those workshops meet? Once a month. And is there a pattern to them?

[00:32:53] Rodney Holum: I think it’s a Third or fourth Friday of the month is a, so it’s on a Friday morning. So I got it. That,

[00:33:00] Vicki Markussen: that the next one’s February 23rd. I saw that.

[00:33:02] Vicki Markussen: Yeah, that, let’s start with that one. Yeah. ,

[00:33:04] Rodney Holum: I think it’s the last Friday of every month is what we have it scheduled for right now. Okay. But some depends on, so we’re. We got a number of our clients up in Eau Claire that wanted us to do one as well. So in February, we’re starting one in Eau Claire and La Crosse.

[00:33:15] Rodney Holum: And then March we’ll have one in Menomonee and La Crosse. So the La Crosse one we’ll do every month. And then we’ll probably rotate between Menomonee and Eau Claire with the Eau Claire one.

[00:33:25] Vicki Markussen: And that’s at your location in Holman. Yep. What’s the

[00:33:28] Rodney Holum: address? 1805 Granary Drive, Holman, Wisconsin.

[00:33:33] Rodney Holum: Got it.

[00:33:34] Vicki Markussen: You just drive there having to remember the address. Yeah,

[00:33:36] Rodney Holum: we just built it last year we just got moved in. But it’s easy to find. It’s the one with the solar panels on the tops.

[00:33:41] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. Well, congrats on building. So yeah, if people want to know more, it seems like this is the place to go to actually ask questions, get some applications, get some tips in terms of how to apply it and where people can take it.

[00:33:58] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. Did we miss anything? I don’t think so. Okay. Let me do that. Oh, I have my common closer question. My common closer question is what makes you passionate about what you do?

[00:34:10] Rodney Holum: An example is a couple of days ago, there was a client that called us up and they were facing a million dollar ransom that and they had no backups.

[00:34:17] Rodney Holum: Rarely in the IT field, do you go walk in and be a Superman, right? Use cases like that. So we were able to go in there, and after about four hours, we were able to recover all their data and get it so that way they can basically tell the hackers, forget it, I don’t want to talk to you.

[00:34:31] Rodney Holum: Now that doesn’t happen all the time, right? And and the clients that are, we’ve never had a single one of our clients that are underneath our protection or anything like that get ransomware. And it’s always, but It happens if you don’t have the proper protection in place, so one is knowing that the protection that we have in place are actually protecting clients from ransomware, and when the clients do get ransomware ed, or people we’ve talked to in the past when they get ransomware ed, be able to go in there and give our best effort to try recovering.

[00:34:57] Rodney Holum: And so far, I think we’re at 100%, but eventually, I’m sure we’ll hit one that we’re not going to be able to, but. So

[00:35:04] Vicki Markussen: getting ahead of that would be critical. Yeah.

[00:35:07] Rodney Holum: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:35:08] Rodney Holum: I really rate it to if you’re talking about a fire protection system, it’s a lot easier before a fire than after a fire to protect you.

[00:35:13] Rodney Holum: Absolutely.

[00:35:14] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. You don’t want to be in that situation. So Rodney Holm, CEO of Cooley Tech, is my guest this week. Thank you for listening to BizCast, Greater La Crosse. We will catch you next week.



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