How will artificial intelligence shape the future of property? Salesforce’s strategy and technology director explains

By Demii Kalavritinos
Jonathan Miranda, Salesforce, Director of strategy and technology

Director of strategy and technology for Salesforce Jonathan Miranda sits down with Phil in San Francisco to discuss artificial intelligence and what it means for investors. The two look at how AI will change the dynamic between investors and professionals when buying property, how the buying experience will change, as well as the impact it will have on the average person’s daily life. 

Jonathan explains what artificial intelligence really is, how it is changing the way in which people buy real estate, and how it will make investors more productive as well as how banks will collect personal information to provide better service.

You will also find out how AI will change human experiences, why the changes AI will bring should be embraced and not feared, the importance of the transparent use of data and how AI personally saved his life.


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Speaker 1: Welcome to the Smart Property Investment Show with your host, Phil Tarrant.

Phil Tarrant: Hey, good day everyone, it's Phil Tarrant here, host of the Smart Property Investment Show. Thanks for joining us today. I'm sitting in a room on Poe Street in San Francisco, and I'm joined today by someone who I'm pretty interested to have a chat about, and I'm sure you will as well. For those of you who are new to this podcast, thanks for joining us. You've joined a community of literally tens of thousands of property investors all looking to create wealth through property, and it's something that's the burning question that I always have in the back of my mind, what is tomorrow going to look like?

            Today I'm joined by Jonathan Miranda who's the director of strategy at Salesforce and his job is to look into the future. How are you going, Jonathan?

Jonathan Miranda: Hey, how are you doing today?

Phil Tarrant: Should I be scared about the future or is it OK?

Jonathan Miranda: No, of course not, no. When we talk a lot about the future, everything you're going to hear in the media is the negativity around it, how technology falls apart, watch the movie Blade Runner and see how everything goes to crap. But in reality what we really talk about, the future, is that it's because of a failure of imagination.

            People have a really easy time to think about how things go wrong and not how something brand new is going to come about. That's why the whole start-up world and venture capital world exists, because thinking about that new next thing is really hard to do. What we do is we think about all of the changes in technology and how it improves our lives. We look at every major technology change since the 50s when bank tellers were suddenly replaced by ATM machines.

            People thought the whole banking industry was going to completely go away. No, it's just different, it's changed. There's a lot more jobs, the industries have always gone up, but what you do at your job has changed, and it's becoming now with AI more and more human focused, more experience focused, more figuring out how to have a good experience for a customer and less about busy work. The boring stuff of entering in data and looking at data, a lot of that's going to go away.

Phil Tarrant: For our listeners, we've got about 15 minutes or so, so what I really want to try to get out of you is how we might in the future be looking at sort of being consumers, and obviously how we shop is going to change a lot, how we shop for mortgages, and mortgages are pretty much the fundamental thing to securing a property, is changing rapidly.

            I just sat with you over the last hour or so talking about AI and how that's changed in a way in which organisations for the context of this podcast, banks are going to collect information on how they can provide you a better service. For our listeners, what is AI, because everyone is talking about it. People watch movies into the future and how machines are going to predict what's going on.

Jonathan Miranda: Yes.

Phil Tarrant: Can you just really crystallise and simplify AI for our listeners?

Jonathan Miranda: Sure. When I talk about artificial intelligence, it's not, again, what you said, the human level intelligence or the general AI that can, the terminator that's going to replace all of us for our jobs. When we talk about artificial intelligence today and why it's making such a big splash is because of machine learning. Machine learning is the ability to take in a lot of data and make a question or a small task off of that vast amount of information. I can give you 5,000 pictures of a cat, and then I can hang you another picture, and you can tell me if it's a cat or not, that's machine learning. That is what we call narrow AI. That's taking a small task, what is a cat, and making it easy and replicable.

            When we talk about artificial intelligence and how it plays out into these different industries, it's about taking a certain task of the job and replacing that, something that was repetitive, or data collection, or processing of information, replacing that task with an artificial intelligence, but there's still a whole set of tasks that you do at your job. Unpredictable work, changing, having conversations, managing people, unpredictable physical work. You can think of a lot of transportation jobs are going to change fundamentally with autonomous vehicles, but the plumber is never going to change, because that job is different every single time. Somebody can't tell you what's wrong with their sink. You have to have a human conversation, and you pull open the cabinet, and it's completely different every single time. Those unpredictable pieces will always have a human touch.

            The AI is when we talk about what is it going to do, and being scared about it, it's not. It's just going to change certain jobs and what they do at their job, it's the task that's going to change.

Phil Tarrant: I know you work with some really exciting companies here in America, particularly Silicon Valley, and we're not far there where we're sitting right now. How are people going to buy real estate differently in the future? How are people going to invest in property differently in the future?

Jonathan Miranda: Oh, wow. We're seeing a lot of movement of how you have a relationship with your broker, or with a mortgage company, or even a home lending group, like there's different areas where you're going to have a different long life relationship with them. They want to get away from the model where I buy something, I sign a contract, and I never see you again for 30 years, because that becomes commoditized.

            The cheapest thing is going to be somewhere else, and millennials care about the experience and what you actually provide to them as a custom experience, so they're going to change from just selling you a house, to I'm going to help you setup your house in the future. I'm going to help you know about the different offerings in the area, I'm going to keep you up-to-date on the technologies that you can help put into your home, I'm going to help you out with those solar panels and all the new technologies, electric vehicles, when those changes come out, where you're like I'm going to keep you informed, and have an ongoing relationship to you, and provide services to you throughout your whole relationship.

            We're also seeing a lot of companies get into the space. You can look at Alibaba, and Baidu, and the rumours of Facebook and mortgage lending. They're all starting to look in these areas, because they have got a good relationship with customers and they have a strong AI, so taking that, they think they can replace these people that are just fighting for the lowest price. That's got to change. These companies are going to have to reinvent themselves and figure out how do I have a lifelong relationship with somebody and provide a service for them, and assist them their entire lives?

            That buying experience, you can buy a house on your phone nowadays and that's getting a little bit scary for these different lending groups. How do you combat that? It's having a different relationship. It's not being I just signed the deal and it's all said and done. It's providing an ongoing relationship and it's a personalised relationship.

            Now, data comes into that a lot, because you need to know a lot of information to be very smart about the decisions you make. A lot of the groups are starting to pull in information from a lot of areas and making decisions around you've been approved, your client, or these are the offers that you should have based off of all this information I have about you.

            But there was a bit of a backlash in the very beginning, because people were kind of freaking out, saying like, "How did you know this, like I didn't even talk to you or give you my information and you've already declined me or approved me?" Having that relationship of transparency is how they're winning that battle. JP Morgan is doing a lot of work with their COIN AI, which handles a lot of their contracting, and if you get approved or declined or you're looking at different offers, they will be very transparent and will share with you all of the information they know about you. That's a lot more than most people think about.

            They know your Facebook, your Twitter, your Instagram, your buying habits, what stores you're going to. There's a lot of information they're using to make that decision, but they want to share that with the customer, and they're also offering the customer the ability to share more information. If you give me more information so I can make a better decision about you, I can actually provide you a monetary benefit.

            I've even seen shoe companies that are saying, "Share with me your Fitbit information, and I will actually drop the price of the shoes $10, and I'll find a better shoe for you, because if I can see your walking habits throughout your whole life or the last six months, I can actually find the perfect shoes for you." That's an easy conversation with a customer because they're getting a benefit out of it. So, it's having that relationship with your customers and figuring out what information you're going to use and being very transparent about it.

Phil Tarrant: So, for consumers they embrace the fact that you're, the person you're buying off knows a lot more about you, because if they do they can deliver you a better product or service, in this case a mortgage?

Jonathan Miranda: Yes. Yeah, exactly, like think about the doctors asking nowadays for your Fitbit information. They want that because then they can know your sleeping habits, your walking habits, they can use it, all information, and they feed that into their artificial intelligence to make a better diagnosis of you. That's an obvious benefit to the customer immediately. It's figuring out that same way to have that same level of conversation where you say, "If you share information with me, I provide you a benefit," and it's really what we're calling the beginning of the personal data economy. It's providing services and benefits to customers that share their information, and it's a transparent way, it's a safe way of doing it, and it provides them a benefit.

            Also, one thing I mentioned in our talk just recently before this, the way that people conceive about how much data is known about them is going to change over the next few years. It's a little creepy right now that you think about when I walk into a store and they're recording me at all times, and they know all this information about me the second I walk in. It's freaking people out a little bit, but it's going to start to turn normal in the next three years.

            The example I gave of using your phone to summon strangers to pick you up in cars to take you from point A to point B, or staying at somebody's house that you've never met before, but that's Uber, and Lyft, and Airbnb, but five years ago you would have said you're crazy if you did that. The same thing is going to happen in retail and having customer experiences, because having the value that's provided to you by you sharing information will just win over the fact that it seems a little bit weird right now.

Phil Tarrant: The way people actually buy real estate, so obviously today you go onto a website, you look at pictures, you read a bit of a description, and then you go and look at a property and say, "Yes, I like this. Yes, I don't like this. I'll buy it. I won't buy it." That's changing quite rapidly as well isn't it?

Jonathan Miranda: Oh, very much.

Phil Tarrant: Are we going to have real estate agents in 10 years’ time? Will they be doing a different job?

Jonathan Miranda: Oh, yes. Well, we'll have them, but it's going to be a very different job. What we're starting to see is mortgage companies that are using even like virtual reality. They'll take a little drone and they'll let it fly around the house, and it'll record the entire house and provide this perfect 3D model, and then you'll be able to put on a virtual reality helmet, and you'll step into the house, and you'll be able to walk around the house and see the different features. They're getting to the point where they can like replace the carpet, change the cabinets, all different kinds of things that they're able to change about it to say, "Would you like this option, or this different option?"

            You can jump from house to house to house to house really quickly or go from property to property really rapidly. You can't do that by driving around and getting from point A to point B, it just takes too much time. So, the shopping experience is going to change a lot, where the last step might be to go see it in person, but before that you're going to see the whole thing and be able to walk around in a virtual experience to do it.

Phil Tarrant: So it will allow you to filter properties very quickly until you get to a point where you say, "Yes, I should invest personal time now into looking at this thing."

Jonathan Miranda: Yes, correct.

Phil Tarrant: And getting the emotion back then, and saying, "I can look at it, I can smell it, I can see it."

Jonathan Miranda: Yep, and it's all being, again, it's about being more productive. A lot of what artificial intelligence and VR and AR, all these things do is take something that was generally allotted more time, and very inefficient, it makes it very productive and very effective. Think about the experience of travelling from all those different properties and figuring out what you're going to do. Now, instead of looking on a website and not getting the full picture or the empathy of understanding the building because you just don't feel like you're there, now you can do that in a way that makes it very quick, very efficient, and now I know, OK, this is the one I really want to go check out, because I've seen 30 properties in 30 minutes. You can't ever do that in any other human experience.

Phil Tarrant: Salesforce, I think most of our listeners would be familiar with, a lot of them are business owners and they might use it, or working companies that use Salesforce.

Jonathan Miranda: We hope so.

Phil Tarrant: And you're one of the success stories coming out of tech land in America for the last sort of decade or so, and director of strategy, it's a big job, it's a big business, it must be pretty exciting. What really excites you about the future in terms of ...

Jonathan Miranda: It doesn't scare me, because- oh, so I work for Peter Schwartz, and Peter Schwartz has been in the industry for a long time. He's the oldest guy at Salesforce, he's 71 years old, and he's got a background. I mean he helped write the movies Minority Report, War Games, he's literally a rocket scientist that got us to the moon, like he has just an amazing background of thinking about the future.

Phil Tarrant: Just a deep brain?

Jonathan Miranda: Just the most interesting man I've ever met in my life.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah.

Jonathan Miranda: And when we talk about the future, he talks about all of the benefits that a lot of people don't see. When he was one of the first users of the internet where it was literally just two computers between one college to another college, you couldn't have said, "Oh, you know, what's one of the jobs of the future of the internet?"

            "Well, there's going to be someone that manages a Twitter account for the social media division for a marketing company." Nobody would have thought of that, like nobody would have thought of that whole industry coming about with internet capabilities. So, when we look at artificial intelligence, it's a lot about how they think of something today that might go away, and not all of the things that are actually going to come about.

            A perfect example, and one I shared earlier, just it's mind blowing. I have two boys that are seven and nine, and they are autistic, and they have a hard understanding of human emotion, so they wear a pair of Google Glasses to class. This is an initiative by Stanford Medical Research Labs, and it's called Autism Glass, and what they do is if they look at somebody, it will say their name and it will say the emotion they're experiencing on the pair of glasses. Changed the game completely. It went from hundreds of hours of therapists and little flash cards of happy faces and sad faces, to now they can relate with their peers immediately and have that understanding of emotion, and it trains them really quickly.

            That's just today. If you think about the next three to five years, think about all of the amazing changes that are going to come from technology. Autonomous vehicles that are going to allow people with disabilities, or the inability to, blind people to get from point A to point B. It's going to open a whole world of new jobs and possibilities. All the lives that we're going to save from artificial intelligence.

            I recently, no joke, I had brain surgery two months ago, and I got flown down to San Diego to have one of the most futuristic experiences of my life. I went to the most modern hospital ever made at San Diego Medical Centre. They used artificial intelligence to determine that I had a small tumour on my hearing nerve. I was in and out of the hospital in 38 hours. I had an artificial intelligent bed that helped me sleep through the night and moved me throughout the night to make sure I was comfortable, and literally after four weeks I'm completely fine, no damages, no issues whatsoever, and that's because they were using things like artificial intelligent tools during the surgery.

Phil Tarrant: That must really resonate with you huh?

Jonathan Miranda: Oh yeah, like I saw personally my life change, I've seen how my kids are changing with technology. When we look at all these different technologies coming out, it's thinking about what's new, and possible, and exciting. Lastly, just to kind of even give it a little bit of background to this, if you look at the history of all of the major technology changes over the last 50 years, it is always improved, every single time.

            Everybody thinks about when the industrial lines starting showing up, or the vehicle change up and put all these horses out of business, like all these major changes. The economy has always gone up, the employment rates have always gone up. Technology has always created new jobs more than it has taken them away, and it's because people see new opportunities, and new businesses, and new things happen with technology than was ever possible before.

Phil Tarrant: So, don't fear the future?

Jonathan Miranda: Don't fear the future.

Phil Tarrant: The future's here though.

Jonathan Miranda: The future is here today, and I'm seeing it firsthand, and it is a very bright and beautiful future.

Phil Tarrant: Brilliant. Jonathan, thanks for your time, I do enjoy it. It's a little bit different than what we'd normally chat about on the Smart Property Investment Show, but I thought just being able to share some time with you and understand what this future looks like, and how by embracing these things as consumers, and consumers of houses and home loans, things should get easier moving forward.

Jonathan Miranda: Definitely.

Phil Tarrant: Thank you.

Jonathan Miranda: Thank you.

Phil Tarrant: Remember to check out If you're not yet subscribing to our daily market intelligence newsletter, please do, We're on all the social stuff, go and check us out and be the first to know about what's happening. We'll be back again next time, until then bye-bye.

Speaker 1: The information featured in this podcast is general in nature and does not take into consideration your financial situation or individual needs and should not be relied upon. Before making any investment, insurance, tax, property, or financial planning decision, you should consult a licenced professional who can advise whether your decision is appropriate for you. Guests appearing on this podcast may have a commercial relationship with the companies mentioned.


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How will artificial intelligence shape the future of property? Salesforce’s strategy and technology director explains
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