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Scott Galloway@profgalloway

Published on May 12, 2023

I run two organizations. Prof G Media is a (wait for it) media company that produces books, videos, podcasts, TV shows, talks, and this newsletter. The second organization is the aircraft carrier squadron that runs my life outside of work. The tutors, trainers, accountants, landscapers, financial planners, lawyers, nannies, health aides (Dad), dog walkers, and other professionals whose job is to make my life nicer and easier. Think Downton Abbey, except the Abbey is a Marylebone apartment and the patriarch is (much) less charming.


The chatter about AI has focused on how it will change (first) organization, the world of work, and/or annihilate us. But the most valuable tech companies to date, with the exception of Microsoft, have been consumer-facing. And it’s likely the major AI disruptors will (again) be consumer offerings. One big change: The butlers, maids, and valets of the rich will be introduced to the broader world. Instead of servants downstairs, we’ll have servers.

Except the servers will be housed in some nondescript tilt-up building next to an inexpensive source of energy to keep it cool, where they’ll sweat plowing the fields of my indulgent life, where I’ve created a series of mazes I need others to help me navigate. Note: I’m especially proud of the previous sentence. Generative AI and smartphones and smart speakers promise the power of personal and professional assistants to everyone with an iPhone. That’s good news … mostly. Technology democratizes access (good thing), but also sequesters us from one another. The tech elite are opting out voluntarily with a nihilistic vision of go bags and bunkers.

The backstory is that the performance of digital assistants might be finally catching up to the decades of promise. Emphasis on “might.” MIT had a chatbot called Eliza in 1966, and the progress since has been steady, if not remarkable. Sixty years later we started to lose interest — the number of Americans who use voice-activated assistants declined. That’s about to change.


We’re on the eve of war — the AI Assistant Revolution. The invading AI army established a beachhead years ago. Remember paper maps? Until recently, successes were limited to AI-friendly contexts: those with a lot of structured data, limited and predictable queries, and not much nuance. Pre-ChatGPT, our AI assistants were kids: They took everything literally and needed to be set up for success. The real innovation unleashed by large language models is soft skills — specifically, their ability to manage the ambiguity of human experience.

Intelligence is synonymous with nuance, or the ability to recognize and deliver it. Google describes its AI mission: “More than answers, we’ll help you when there’s no right answer.” The hardest decisions in life are having to choose between the bad options rife in a difficult environment. Bear markets and bad relationships require intelligence (i.e., nuance). Bull markets and good relationships only require bravado and presence.


We’ve learned, painfully, that converting any asset or substance to another, for economic benefit, produces externalities. Fossil fuels to energy produces carbon; plant calories to meat calories results in deforestation and methane. The worst are the rage emissions spewed into our environment as Big Tech converts attention to ads. The externality when we convert the patterns between words to information and insight (i.e., AI)? A: Dehumanization. The people who invented AI — now that their options have vested — are full-time catastrophists. But they’re hyping the wrong catastrophe. I’m less worried about SkyNet declaring war on the species or being turned into a paperclip than an epidemic that causes more death, disease, and disability than Covid-19: loneliness.

The U.S. faces an epidemic of isolation. Loneliness among young adults has been increasing since 1976. (The increase has been steeper among those with lower incomes.) Teen depression would be at similar levels, given its trajectory, with or without the pandemic. Put another way, Covid didn’t inspire social distancing … social media did. A more honest moniker for the sector is “asocial” media. Studies find that when people reduce or eliminate social media from their lives, their self-esteem and sense of connection often improve. AI-driven assistants present a similar risk.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General (an impressive man who makes you feel good about America): “Evidence across scientific disciplines converges on the conclusion that socially connected people live longer.” Social isolation is associated with a 29% increase in the risk of heart disease and a 32% increase in the risk of stroke. Put another way: loneliness kills. 

A reliable indicator of how much a new tech product will drive us apart is the intensity of the founder’s promise to bring us together. Facebook’s mission statement has become less recognizable than an ’80s pop star’s face, but the Zuck and Sheryl promised (repeatedly) they would “connect people.” They then built algorithms that send images of nooses and razor blades to 14-year-old girls experiencing suicidal ideation. Tinder aims to spark relationships but increasingly results in sadness and anxiety. We’re then told that the solution to tech’s externalities is … more tech.

On cue, Tinder’s former CEO is raising venture capital for an AI-powered relationship coach called Amorai that will offer advice to young adults struggling with loneliness. She won’t be alone. Call Annie is an “AI friend” you can phone or FaceTime to ask anything you want. A similar product, Replika, has millions of users. AI sex-robot vendors saw sales increase 50% during the pandemic, and sextech is expected to become a $53 billion industry by 2026. So, Natalie 2.0 (a sex doll) should make the same as Beyoncé and Tom Cruise, as the industry she works for will approximate the scale of the combined global music and movie businesses.

We’ve seen this movie before, literally. It was called Her. A lonely introvert in the midst of divorce purchases an advanced AI assistant that helps him with everything — from therapy to cooking to setting him up on dates — and they fall in love. Also Ex Machina, another great film about the collision of tech and loneliness. What sci-fi gets right, and the innovator class papers over with earnest TED talks on bettering the world, is that human connection is why we’re all here. And inserting AI between ourselves and those around us dulls those connections.

Secret to My Success

Sexbots are a sure thing, and AI assistants are inexpensive and don’t need vision and dental. Also, they are not real and don’t nourish our soul. We’re not wired to live in a world where we have friends but don’t experience friendship. Human relationships are about competition and compromise, about listening and bouncing off one another in unexpected ways … in person. They are about, among many things, the risk inherent in relationships. These risks include disappointment and rejection.

Rejection has been key to my success. Specifically, my willingness to endure it. In high school, I ran for sophomore/junior/senior class president … lost all three times. Based on my track record, I decided it made sense to run for student body president, and I (wait for it) lost. I asked four girls to my high school prom and didn’t go — 0 for 4. (Note: I did get asked to the prom by a girl from another school.) I have raised over $1 billion for my startups and investments. However, I pitched (conservatively) $100 billion in capital over the better part of a decade, before raising a dollar. I was rejected (initially) by UCLA. But here’s the thing, I recovered. More than recovered — I got stronger.  And that made the victories feel more … victorious.  Twenty years ago, under the glare of the midday sun, I approached a woman at the Raleigh Hotel pool who was sitting with two friends. I was so attracted to her, I decided it was worth the risk of rejection — I’d learned that the downside doesn’t present that much … downside. It’s risk, it’s growth, it’s life.

AI assistants are the ultimate helicopter parent, bulldozing obstacles and the risk inherent in establishing new relationships. We are breeding a generation of asocial people who don’t know what it means to be rejected, forget a name, miss a flight, and find unexpected joy. AI, and mobile technology, have strip-mined a key component of what it means to be human, what it means to be a mammal. Happiness is a function of your willingness to take an uncomfortable risk and have something wonderful … really wonderful … happen in person. Technology offers productivity and prosperity. However, joy is in the agency of others. The most important skills are forged, not taught.

My oldest son’s middle name? Raleigh.

Life is so rich,


P.S. This week I spoke with Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, about community building, AI, and relationships. Listen here.


P.P.S. I’m sitting down to talk about How to Have a Breakthrough with my colleague Adam Alter next Tuesday. Join us, and come with questions — the best ones get a copy of Adam’s new book.



  1. LR says:

    Aw cmon, Scott: finish the hotel pool story!

  2. art says:

    Maps, along with being archaic (to some, or most) would work well as a metaphor for that which we’re missing in this era, Scott. Open a paper national park map sometime, and compare it to what’s on your phone. Nuance, x 10. Thanks for writing.

    • Phiip S. Wenz says:

      I have a modest collection of antique maps, some going back to the 14 and 15 hundreds. When I want directions to a motel, I google them. When I want to calmly regard the wonder of human creations, I pull out my map collection.

  3. Matt says:

    This sentence hits hard: “We’re not wired to live in a world where we have friends but don’t experience friendship.” As a fellow Professor, this sums up my observations of social interactions among the vast majority of college students, and an ever-increasing percentage of post-college adults. I recently invited 11 ‘friends’ to attend a local ballgame, free of charge. You guessed it: 0-for-11. Several didn’t even bother to respond to the invitation. Now, ask me how likely I am to “put myself out there” again any time soon?

  4. M. Murray says:

    This is 100% on point. Years ago (80’s – when you only applied to 3-4 colleges because you were on a typewriter pounding out the applications…) I was rejected by my favored uni. It crushed me. The greatest favor gifted to me was that the person in the Admissions Department wrote me a letter detailing all of my shortfalls (I was NOT a serious student in HS) and how she thought I had the intellect to be at the school, but needed to re-apply. What a cold shower for my 18 yo self. I taped that letter to my wall and woke up to it every morning the rest of my HS senior year, focused on what I needed to do.

    Long story, but became a model A/B average. To Professor Galloway’s point, it was a wake up call. Failure is everything…it hurts in the moment, but makes you much wiser in the long run.

  5. Ken Wolnak says:

    I commend to all the Isaac Asimov novel, “The Naked Sun,” where we are introduced, in astonishingly precient detail, to Solaria, a world where humans can no longer tolerate the physical presence of another human.

  6. Bertus Kock says:

    The irony is that Zuckerberg has always been pushing for “more connections”, which resulted in this epidemic of “loneliness”. People don’t crave more connections, they crave quality connections and by quality I mean, relationships where they are valued and empowered. That is really all the human “soul” needs.

    The problem isn’t tech. It is the people who run tech. Their incentives are not to improve the human condition, but to improve their pockets at all cost. There is nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong when you are not providing value (leaving humans better off) in return. “Faster” and “stronger” aren’t values; you just get to a place of “no value”, quicker and with a louder bang.

    I am skeptical on the idea of “struggle makes life worth living”. Tell that to people that live under a dictator or have to fight to have their basic needs met. We all have “friends” or meet people that are terrible. Human connections aren’t necessarily better, but there is definitely an opportunity for AI to play a supplementary role as mentors, councilors or support during difficult times and will be more likely be able to provide quality interaction compared to humans purely on quantity of data available when (not if) they reach the point to pick up the nuances of being human.

    • YB says:

      It’s hard not to by engaged by this article and the comments section. Could it be AI generated????

  7. Boston says:

    Never posted before, but wanted to comment that I thought this post was fantastic. AI might have lots of benefits, but failing to recognize the downsides is dangerous and foolish, even when those downsides are as nebulous as more loneliness.

  8. Marina Jukic says:

    This is really great post, thank you. You made me thinking just after finishing my work, helping myself with ChatGPT… Loneliness kills… and social skills and strength are built only with real exercise. not online and with help of smart anything

  9. Sly says:

    Remember if you think about tech. “Anything that is against nature will not last in the long run.”

  10. Linda Anderson says:

    I may be the least connected of your readers in terms of Ai/tech – not sure I can even identify the branches, and probably miss many of your clever references since I don’t watch TV (I do catch enough to enjoy the cleverness) But I can certainly agree with your concern for those who are isolated by their involvement/dependence on social media. The denominational church I belong to was steeply challenged by online worship at the onset of COVID, and seems not to have reconnected with many who used to attend. I am concerned at the increased isolation that has resulted for some families, but encouraged by the strengthening of immediate family ties for others who lived together and had increased time to interact in person.
    I hope I may quote you saying, “We’re not wired to live in a world where we have friends but don’t experience friendship.” That seems to me one of the clearest expressions of the tragic situation! Thank you for this article.

  11. Maxine Most says:

    Whose the “we”? That’s not how I raised my daughter. She walked to school by herself, was on local bus transportation by 11, has been responsible for our cats since she was 6, and has been doing her own laundry since she was 10. Done of us are raising great, well behaved, caring and deep thinking, resilient kids.

  12. debbie wolleman says:

    Love your blog!! Just wondering if you meant ( in the premature mortality table ) six drink per week? Rather than 6 drinks per day?

    If not, I’ll live to 200!!!!


  13. Gerard Mclean says:

    That sentence is something to be proud of. I’m gonna pull it out and diagram it for fun because… that’s what I do for fun. (old tyme English major with an almost double in Linguistics. I’m irritating to many, many… many people) The ultimate genius is that it is not triadic, that I was left hanging expecting a third shoe to get thrown. I’m not sure whether that was intentional cruelty or an oversight. 😉 Regardless, it is a cool sentence.

  14. Brandon Nolte says:

    Your thoughts are always prescient. Please keep up the good work it is very helpful to the world which requires such narrators as yourself. Fixing the source of these observations is of primary importance.

  15. Eichenberg Simone says:

    Great Food for thought. Danke! I‘m wondering how we as a society can encourage (positive) human interaction and the individual challenges that come along with it to show (especially the younger generation) that real interaction is better than It’s artificial counterpart. My first thought was investing more in public spaces and public transportation in order to make them enjoyable and encouraging „real“ interactions. But I‘m pessimistic – Even in Germany townsquares nowadays are designed to be repelling especially to young people.

  16. Michael Suttle says:

    Prof Galloway – long-time-reader, first-time-caller:

    Love what you said about rejection.

    Me too

    Rejection (or rather, how to deal with it) is my super power.

    Its all about being brave enough to be vulnerable.

    Here’s a list of places where I was turned

    -University of Southern California
    -Symphony Technology Group
    -Sequoia Capital
    -Menlo Ventures

    And here is a partial list of the places where I worked.

    -University of Southern California
    -Symphony Technology Group
    -Sequoia Capital
    -Menlo Ventures

    Notice any similarities in the list? Oh yeah, they are identical.

    Somehow, AFTER getting rejected up front, I later got the job.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

    Your message really resonates.


  17. jesus gutierrez says:

    vivo muy bien con 3 euros al dia

  18. Fernando Schmidt says:

    Tks for the free lessons, professor

  19. Ben says:

    So where does this leave us? I understood the problem, but not the proposed solution.

  20. C Cook says:

    As with the advent of the Internet, AI will be used by rich kids from wealthy families, with MBAs from the ‘right’ schools to pick the pockets of less wealthy, less educated from bad families. Those ‘brand managers’ MBAs benefiting will wring their hands and cry out about ‘inequality’, even as they board the private jet to Davos.

  21. Dan says:

    We’re all about to become TV news anchors with an earpiece and AI-driven life producers telling us what to say to your boss and coworkers, what to do when the souffle collapses, and how to think when your child asks about climate change. And the AI assistants will never tell you that you should have a better experience than your phone at a live concert. Note, I was especially proud of that last sentence.

  22. Xander Dom says:

    FWIW: It feels like it’s getting more difficult to identify the wisdom in NM/NM vs the regurgitation of Scott’s previous struggles/fails/wins. It initially makes for good, engaging content, but is starting to feel less relevant as Scott increasingly (and deservedly) sheltered/opulent lifestyle shines brighter; and ultimately becomes more just the “dog’s” brand of recalcitrant masculinity. Pivot seems to work well because Kara can temper that bravado.
    Still reading, still finding those nuggets of wisdom. Appreciate the effort, Scott! Hope this helps and isn’t just considered trolling.

  23. Richard Baum says:

    Are you inferring that the woman you approached at the Raleigh Pool became your wife?

  24. John Christian says:

    Sitting in my greenhouse on the beach in the gulf islands looking at the completion of my 71st yr. Reading yr letter. Thanks scott!

  25. Harry Thompson says:

    I was using Bard today and was struck by the fact it feels like what google was originally intended to do. It provides concise and clear answers to questions, which google also did before it became overrun with top posts based on advertising. Would love to get your thoughts on this? Groundbreaking? Or a search engine without the ads!

  26. Scott Austin says:

    Great article Scott and, as with most, I concur and have similar experience (except the $1B !). I think however we need robotics and and Ai combined to support your extend support network – I wish we could also replace dentists – surely they need disrupting!

  27. David says:

    I feel compelled to let you know that I think you are quite possibly the best person on earth. Just worship everything Scott Galloway. You have extreme humanity even with ridiculous financial success. You are a stud and deserve all the happiness. I will speak bluntly. Your generosity in this world has zero to do with money. Your insight and kindness are the gifts you give.

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