The Boost VC Podcast

Ep. 73: Designing AI, VR and AR for Social Good with Sean White of Mozilla

Episode Summary

We’re familiar with product/market fit, but have you ever considered product/person fit? Having empathy for the end user is what differentiates the companies that design technology for the benefit of humans from those that are simply out to make a profit. So, how do we design AI, VR and AR products that promote social good—and truly change people’s lives?

Episode Notes

We’re familiar with product/market fit, but have you ever considered product/person fit? Having empathy for the end user is what differentiates the companies that design technology for the benefit of humans from those that are simply out to make a profit. So, how do we design AI, VR and AR products that promote social good—and truly change people’s lives?

Sean White is the Chief R&D Officer for Mozilla, the non-profit company behind the Firefox browser. Sean also serves as a visiting lecturer at Stanford University as well as a judge for the environmental category of the International Tech Awards. An entrepreneur and inventor, Sean is dedicated to leading the development of the technologies that enable creative expression, connect us to each other, and enhance our understanding of the world around us.

Today, Sean joins us to share his background in academia and startups as well as his experience in the early days of mixed reality. He explains what is necessary to promote the widespread adoption of VR, how to identify your personal mission, and the value in asking questions about emerging technology through art. Listen in for insight around Mozilla’s role as a ‘trusted personal agent’ and learn how the company works to create product/person fit!

Topics Covered

Sean’s background in academia and startups
Grew up in San Antonio, TX
Silicon Valley in 1988 to attend Stanford

Mozilla’s take on their role in advancing technology
Internet is public good
View selves as ‘trusted personal agent’

Sean’s experience in VR, AR and MR
PhD in mixed reality
Cost $1M to drive each eye in early days

Sean’s favorite recent AR experience
Laurie Anderson, Tribeca Film Festival
Reveals poem, song ‘inside her mind’

How to promote the wide adoption of VR/AR
Normalization of hardware platform
Less expensive, more ergonomic

Mozilla’s view of user identity in VR
Ability to control identity is vital

Sean’s involvement with The Tech
Promote innovation, change people’s lives
Smithsonian AR project to identify plant species

Sean’s insight on finding your mission
Worked with Professor Terry Winograd (inventor of AI)
Learned about social responsibility, heart
Aligns with Mozilla mission to benefit humans with tech

Sean’s take on asking questions through art
Explore hopes, fears around new technologies in film
‘Art is good at asking questions’

How Mozilla tracks success and progress
Measure by people using (where and how)
Product/market AND product/person fit

Connect with Sean

Mozilla https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/

Mozilla on Twitter https://twitter.com/mozilla

Sean on Twitter https://twitter.com/seanwhite?lang=en

Sean on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanwhite/

Sean on Medium https://medium.com/@seanwhite

Resources

Favor https://favordelivery.com/

VIVE https://www.vive.com/us/product/vive-virtual-reality-system/

Oculus Go https://www.oculus.com/go/

Tribeca Film Festival https://www.tribecafilm.com/immersive

Fortnite https://www.epicgames.com/fortnite/en-US/buy-now/battle-royale

The Tech Museum of Innovation https://www.thetech.org/

Crisis Text Line https://www.crisistextline.org/

FirefoxReality https://mixedreality.mozilla.org/

Mozilla ‘Hubs’ https://hubs.mozilla.com/

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline https://www.amazon.com/Ready-Player-One-Ernest-Cline/dp/0307887448

The Lawnmower Man https://www.amazon.com/Lawnmower-Man-New-Line-Platinum/dp/6304604572