Artificial Intelligence

Lindy CEO: A.I. Might Be 'the Biggest Change in Human History'

"People are comparing A.I. to smartphones or the internet. I think it's much closer to the invention of fire or the wheel," says Flo Crivello.


Flo Crivello is the founder and CEO of Lindy, a software company that has created an executive assistant powered by artificial intelligence (A.I.). Lindy can take care of your calendar, perform basic email correspondence, book travel, and take notes during meetings. The long-run goal is to automate as much work as possible and free up time for tasks that only humans can do.

In April, Reason's Natalie Dowzicky interviewed Crivello for a video about how A.I. will change the way we work.

Q: You've described Lindy as creating a "one-time app that then gets thrown away." What do you mean by that?

A: When you ask Lindy to do something, she actually writes a little piece of code to perform the task for you. So, for example, if you say, "Hey, help me find 30 minutes with Bob, next week," she's going to write a piece of code: "I'm going to look at your calendar, I'm going to pull availabilities, I'll compile them in an email, I'm going to send them to Bob, and I will wait for his reply." So all of that is a mini piece of code.

I always compare it to the Industrial Revolution. Before the Industrial Revolution, certain goods like cups or pens were very expensive. And after the revolution, these goods became so cheap that we started to have single-use versions of them. We have red Solo cups and Bic pens. They're just so cheap that you don't even feel the need to refill a pen. It's just cheaper to buy a new one than to replace the ink.

Here it's the same thing. Historically, code has been very expensive. With the A.I. cognitive revolution, code is becoming so cheap that it can be disposable in a single use. It costs on the order of $0.01 to build an application. And so effectively you're going to live in a world where bespoke mini applications are built for every little use case you have throughout your day.

Q: In what specific ways is A.I. already changing the workplace?

A: It's funny, because everybody's like, "Oh, robots are stealing our jobs," and I'm like, "No, humans have been doing robot jobs." I think it's tragic that we're having humans perform such basic tasks all day. I think human capabilities should be reserved for high-value things that only humans can do. If a machine can do it, then the machine should do it. You should just spend your entire day in flow state and do whatever you do best. And then a machine should take care of all the logistical work around that.

Q: Will A.I. replace many jobs in the U.S.?

A: People mistakenly believe that there is a fixed amount of work to be performed in the economy. The reality of it is that human needs and wants are infinite. People always want more. Today we live like kings. We actually live like kings. I think the lifestyle that you and I live is better than the lifestyle of Louis XVI. And we still want more. So there is an infinite need for work and value.

Change is scary. I think we are about to see maybe the biggest change in human history. That sounds like hyperbole, but I really believe that. People are comparing A.I. to smartphones or the internet. I think it's much closer to the invention of fire or the wheel. I think it's going to be a significant change and I think it's going to happen in our lifetimes.

This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity.