Artificial Intelligence poses a very real threat to the livelihood of humans says Derek Pearson and he is urging us to prepare for the massive changes that will affect us all.

He speaks of "a gigantic wave of change, both terrible and wonderful, on the horizon."

The terrible part, he says, is that the wave will bring about serious social and economic turmoil but he believes it will be wonderful because if we manage it well, it will represent a huge step in our evolution as a species.

Pearson has launched After AI - a discussion platform for learning, working and making a living in an automated future and has written a book After AI Strategies to Survive & Thrive..


"We need to think about the unique abilities that each of us has and how we can strengthen them to work in areas that cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence."

The Whanganui-born writer, musician, filmmaker, digital artist and tutor says he was fortunate to have parents who introduced him to alternative perspectives and ideas from an early age.

His father, the late Ken Pearson was a teacher at Durie Hill School in the 1970s who is fondly remembered by former pupils.

"My dad was kind of a maverick in his teaching work. Instead of formal lessons, he and the kids in his class made these full-scale models of planes, space capsules and cars, that they could climb inside of and play in.

"He would build writing, reading and arithmetic into the creative process, so the kids were motivated to learn while they were having fun."

The methodology put him on the wrong side of Education Board authorities but his son says former pupils have very positive memories of the learning experiences.

Teacher Ken Pearson and his class with a model plane built at Durie Hill School in the 1970s. Photo / Supplied
Teacher Ken Pearson and his class with a model plane built at Durie Hill School in the 1970s. Photo / Supplied

Young Derek would also struggle with conventional learning and with support from both Ken and his artist wife April Pearson, he was able to give himself practical experience in film-making.

Ken even sold his set of golf clubs to buy his son a second-hand camera and Derek worked as a cleaner at night to fund the making of short films, one of which would gain him recognition in a national competition.


The exposure led to 16-year-old Derek becoming the youngest employee at TVNZ where he worked from 1983 until 1989.

From there, he headed to Japan where he initially pursued a music career and ended up living in Kyoto where he met his future wife Kei Tsuji.

For 30 years, the couple has lived between New Zealand and Japan. Their daughter Liya was born in 1997.

Liya now studies film and linguistics at university, and Derek says concern for her future and the future of her generation has been a motivator for After AI.

"It is about developing approaches to learning that'll keep ourselves and our children ahead of the AI curve.

"I believe we can devise ways for learning, working and making a living in an automated future."

The book, he says, is purposefully designed with manageable chunks of text interspersed with inspirational and thought-provoking images.

"I really just want to get it out there and generate as much interest as I can."

After AI Strategies to Survive & Thrive is available to read and download in several formats and the author is offering the chance to win hard copy versions.

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