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„Künstliche Intelligenz macht mir Angst“ – Interview mit Jeff Burton über Virtual Reality

Munich Members

Munich Members

Munich Members ist die Marke und das Netzwerk des Kreativstandortes München. Ziel von Munich Members ist es, München als Kreativ-Metropole zu fördern indem Großprojekte interdisziplinär zwischen Kreativen, Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft und Politik definiert und direkt in der Metropolregion München umgesetzt werden. Somit vereint Munich Members Experten aus den Bereichen Kreativwirtschaft, Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft und Politik, die die Sichtbarmachung Münchens als Kreativstandort und die intelligente Nutzung der kreativen Kraft - zum Wohle von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - als strategisches Ziel definiert haben.
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Jeff Burton startet ’82 mit Electronic Arts, 30 Jahre ist er im Bereich Gaming unterwegs, seit 28 Jahren in der Startup-Szene aktiv. Jeff begann also seine Karriere in der Gaming-Branche und ist nun wieder voll eingestiegen – was lustig ist, denn er selbst zockt gar nicht gern.

Ein Gespräch über Inspiration, Kreativität, die Gaming-Trends von morgen und welche Rolle Munich Members in all dem spielt.


Munich Members: Are you excited?

Jeff Burton: I am! And it’s been the first time I’ve been able to see a company, which I think has the potential to really change the industry.

Munich Members: Really? Why is that? What is new?

Jeff: Now an individual can be in a game rather than just playing or observing. They can actually participate in the game and have to move around. Electronic Arts had a phrase they used “EA Sports- it’s in the game”. But it’s no longer “It’s in the game” but “You’re in the game”. You play.

„Virtual Reality changes the way people interact with games“

And that’s really a dramatic change that was never possible before. Actively participating in a game I see as a complete revolution and a transformation in the way people relate to digital gaming. When we started Electronic Arts, we wanted to provide people with experiences they couldn’t have in another way and I think we did that by creating some really realistic simulations, such as FIFA or Sims. And now the whole idea of Virtual Reality is going to change the way people interact with games because now they physically get to get into them.

„Coffee, Sun and being invisible“

Munich Members: We want to get to know you a little better; so if you had a superpower- what would it be? You must have thought about this earlier?

JEFF BURTON: I haven’t because of the fact that I never really played games. In fact, all of the Electronic Arts founders, none of us was a gamer. We were all marketing people. I was the only one of the six people that actually came from a gaming company, which was Atari that time. The others came from software companies, Apple, and the advertising industry. So we didn’t really ever play any games. Actually I don’t even know what the superpowers are?

Munich Members: Well think of X-Men. Being able to turn into water or being invisible, having the ability to fly or read minds.

JEFF BURTON: Oh, so I would choose to have the power of being invisible. I like to go to places, like to observe and not have to be on centre stage. I’m more of a ‚behind the scenes‘ kind of person.

Munich Members: What makes your day a perfect day?

JEFF: Sunshine, coffee. Every day I love waking up with the sun.  That’s what keeps my mood good.

„Watching, not playing FIFA Football“

Munich Members: Well, we didn’t know that you are not a gaming person…but anyhow…What’s your favourite computer game?

JEFF BURTON: FIFA Football! Watching, not playing. You know, E-Sports is a big thing and there’s people that have real competitions being broadcast on TV. And they should, as it requires highly skilled people to utilize the players accurately. But that was actually my favourite part at Electronic Arts, because EA made it possible to render characters to look like people.

„Figures don’t only look, they also move like real people“

When we first started, those figures were stick and now they don’t only look like real people, they also move like real people. The next stage, of course, will be to have that in Virtual Reality and YOU play!

„Munich’s bells, public transportation and success“

MUNICH MEMBERS: What do you find most fascinating about Munich?

JEFF BURTON: Munich is a beautiful city and I love its architecture and its bells. I have spent lots of time in an office which was right at Kaufingerstraße and we were right across of the two bell towers of the Frauenkirche. And Munich has this fabulous public transportation system, that I have finally mastered after two whole months. And it’s so quiet. Everything is so loud, but Munich is quiet. Also, people are so civilized here! It’s clean, people are polite and mind their own business. Except on the subway, where people really look whether you’ve got your foot on a bench or something. And that is really German, I think. And here you cannot cross the street against the red lights. So I learned to wait, even if there’s no traffic… And I like it.

„Munich combines everything you need to be successful.“

Munich feels like a really sophisticated and well-educated and industrial centre. I mean, some of the world’s biggest companies are here. And the educational system, LMU and TUM are the best in Germany. Munich combines everything you need to be successful. And its location centrally located in Europe is great.

MUNICH MEMBERS: How would you define creativity?

JEFF BURTON: I think I would define it as the ability to put together either material or ideas in a way that no one has combined things before. Creating something new, in fact. It’s the ability to see something in a new light and interpret it in a different way that most people don’t. It’s an idea that no one has really thought of before. It’s something everybody can do and some are much better at than others. I love working with creative people because they tend to be open minded and curious.

„Young people are open and curious.“

MUNICH MEMBERS: What inspires you?

JEFF BURTON: I get a lot of my inspiration from young people. And I work with young people all the time. Because those tend to have creativity that has not been stifled yet, they are open and they are curious. Fortunately, I’ve been successful in helping those people. For me, it is an inspiration to see the passion in a person and I can be the one to help realise that special idea.

MUNICH MEMBERS: New technologies – what fascinates you and what scares you?

JEFF BURTON: I am fascinated by the new technologies‘ ability to transport a person in a situation that he or she has never encountered before. And that is one of the things about Virtual Reality that is just fascinating to me. Think of you being a teacher. Eventually, what’s going to happen is that teachers are going to be able to take a whole class through Virtual Reality into the past and experience a historic event that they have been trying to teach about. So the class will be able to be in that room together at the same time and experience it as if it is really happening. That is what the technology is moving toward. The best way to learn is through experience anyway and VR gives you this ability in a much more real way. So you’re able to learn much quicker and much deeper.


I’m concerned about technologies being able to become so smart that machines will start to teach themselves. And that is what’s happening right now. And in some ways even highly educated people are starting to lose jobs to highly trained machines.

MUNICH MEMBERS: Oh, so you are scared of people losing their jobs?

JEFF BURTON: Not necessarily. I’m concerned that once a computer has all of the information that it needs to program itself, that there is going to be no way to control what the computer chooses to optimize. This raises all sorts of ethical questions, of issues that none of us has had to deal with before. It’s going to take 30-40 years for Artificial Intelligence to really come into its own, but the fact that AI can beat the best human player in the game GO – that is pretty amazing, amazingly scary actually.

„We need creativity in order to handle global warming“

MUNICH MEMBERS: Future – what is the most challenging part?

 JEFF BURTON: It will be survival – we are running out of water, there’s too many people as we are multiplying too fast.  We are rapidly approaching a breaking point, with the whole issue of global warming. And somehow we have got to figure out a way to stop that, because we will reach a point where all the natural systems are going to start doing weird things. Here, we really need creativity in order to handle those changes.

MUNICH MEMBERS: Megatrends – which one do you invest in?

JEFF BURTON: Digitalization is a Megatrend that is spreading throughout the world; it’s not just connecting them in fact, its about providing them with just-in-time information and an infinite amount of information. The digital revolution has just changed the way people interact. And this has a high impact on developing countries, which aren’t necessarily well educated. It’s a huge game changer.

„Every Economy will become more dependent on creativity and innovation.“

MUNICH MEMBERS: Vision – what’s yours?

JEFF BURTON: My vision is that every economy in the world will become much more dependent on creativity and innovation in businesses and starting new businesses.

That is going to be an engine of growth for the future of all countries, doesn’t matter whether they are advanced, or third world or first world. It’s almost like the industrial revolution, which every economy in the world had to adopt in order to keep up with the change.The future engine of economic growth is to start up companies and to use creativity and innovation to stay on track.

„Radical innovation is the way to go.“

MUNICH MEMBERS: Company innovations – radical or incremental?

JEFF BURTON: Radical is the way to go! Our lives are most influenced by radical changes and that’s where we learn the most and where people are gaining that kind of dynamism that they need to change something. Incremental changes don’t lead to creativity or major rethinking. And that’s why I think radical innovations are a huge driver and a force for creativity.

„Creative Class is anyone who uses own head and make a difference with own ideas.“

MUNICH MEMBERS: Creative Class – how would you define it? Is it the key to innovation?

JEFF BURTON: Anyone who is involved in trying to make major changes. So radicals of all sorts really. People who use their own head and make a difference with their own ideas, with their own creativity. So is it the key to innovation? Absolutely!

„Munich Members to make an impact as gateway to transformation.“

MUNICH MEMBERS: What do you expect form Munich Members? 

JEFF BURTON: Munich Members definitely is the gateway to transformation! I expect Munich Members to really make an impact on Munich’s community. It’s a fairly definable and fairly small community that has a ton of power. And Munich Members can harness that community and harness that power to create an influencer for the rest of the country and therefore for the rest of the world.

„Munich Members can draw people together and define projects and innovations in order for the city and community to transform.“ 

I think Munich is the most vital Startup area in Europe right now. Much more than Paris, London or Berlin. And Munich Members is just the right thing at the right time.



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