Idealog Year in Review: James Hurman

In the latest edition of our series asking some of Aotearoa's best-known businesspeople and visionaries to take a step back and offer their insights on how the past year has gone and how the future might unfold, we chat with Previously Unavailable's James Hurman.

 ​Favourite innovation that isn't yours?

Tesla Roof Tiles. Again Tesla makes it properly desirable to do something good.

Favourite innovation that is yours?

Freshbrush - our first Previously Unavailable Venture. It’s a toothbrush subscription delivery service. Get a beautifully designed, eco-friendly, bamboo handled toothbrush delivered every month for $32 a year.

Most interesting launch/innovation/trend/thing of the year?

Elon Musk’s belief that we’re living in a simulation. It’s pretty compelling. And I heard that two different billionaires had science teams already working on how to break us out of the simulation. Fuck yeah.

Most promising New Zealand company/companies?

Simplicity Kiwisaver.

Heroes?

All the dead creative geniuses.

Villains?

2016.

Best stoush?

When Microsoft launched their Surface Studio, and Apple released their new Macbook it seemed like a real turning point. The Surface Studio is a massive step up for Microsoft and the Macbook probably the most underwhelming thing they’ve done since the 90s. Uh oh.

Your own biggest success?

I guess doing two books, a new startup venture, a big year for Previously and managing to still be married.

What’s the biggest mistake innovators/businesses will make in 2017?

Continuing to be way way too slow with innovation, or continuing to talk about it but not actually do it.

What do you expect to see in the next five years?

A lot of really brown-looking cream Allbirds.

What will be dead in the next five years?

A lot of Americans, probably.

What should be invented and/or un-invented?

A small device that turns sea water into IPA

Favourite book/TV show/podcast/album/website/magazine/story/performance enhancing drug of the year?

Stranger Things I guess you have to say. And the Bon Iver and Beyonce and Frank Ocean albums.

One piece of tech you’d have on a desert island?

That small device that turns sea water into IPA

Will the robots become sentient and kill us all? (asking for a friend)

Probably, but probably not all of us. I’ve been using an AI personal assistant called Amy, by an NYC company called x.ai – she organises meetings so you don’t have to do the calendar back and forth thing. And she talks to you and your clients (on email) like an actual real person. But she is of course a computer, and so has no real use for human politenesses like please and thank you. But I’ve found myself still being really polite to her. And that got me thinking that maybe, when the AIs do take over, that they’ll look at how humans treated AIs, and spare those of us that were nice to them.

As you’re enjoying the great outdoors this summer, The Kiwibank Conservation Dogs will be out there too, hard at work, giving our nature a future.