The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


It’s Called Artificial For A Reason …

So this is sort-of following on from yesterdays post.

Specifically the last line of yesterday’s post.

The bit about AI/VR.

You see a few weeks ago, I was invited to speak on a panel about the future by Frog Design.

No, I don’t know why they asked me either.

Anyway, it was a great panel and I learnt a lot of stuff but where things got a bit sticky was when the subject of AI came up.

OK, I was the reason it all got a bit sticky, but that’s because I feel companies are approaching AI with the sole goal of enabling the lazy.

Yes, it’s still early days but automating the most common/basic of tasks feels such a waste of potential.

I get they have to get people used to things before they can push them to new things, but to focus on such mundane tasks doesn’t naturally push the industry to explore the bigger possibilities of it.

My suggestion was that I’d like to see it being used to take people to new places.

New opinions … thoughts … possibilities … experiences.

More inspirational intelligence than artificial.

When you ask for news headlines, it reads you how different news sources see the same story.

When you ask for a countdown, it plays you music you haven’t heard before until the timer is up.

When you ask for the weather, it tells you some places you can go to, to take advantage of the climate.

In other words, make you benefit from the AI beyond the fact it’s performing a function that saves you approx 0.3 seconds doing. Kind-of like the premise behind user-unfriendly tech I wrote about a while back.

Of course to do this means that they have to do more than just follow the data.

It means they have to add something to it.

Context. Insight. Humanity. Creativity.

Things that companies are seemingly valuing less rather than more.

To be fair, Amazon are trying to do this with some of the more quirky aspects of Alexa … but I still would like to see more being done, because not only does this add real value to the tech, it means brands have a chance to build additional value with their audience rather than sit back and watch their engagement get less and less.

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27 Comments so far
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You’ve just nailed why I love AI.

Comment by DH

This is not a surprise to anyone.

Comment by Bazza

You are literally the only person in the world that would like, let alone buy, something designed to be user unfriendly.

Comment by DH

thats because campbell is the patron saint of user unfriendliness. you worked with him, you should know this shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

How did I not realize that.

Comment by DH

At least ‘unfriendliness’ means people try to work with me as opposed to your unique user repulsion operating system. That sounded so much funnier in my head than when I see it written down.

Comment by Rob

You’re right about it not being funny written down.

Comment by DH

im going away for a week to get over the lack of birthday presents so ill leave you with this campbell. the fucked thing about all this tech assistance isnt that its making us lazy, its that its making us selfish and dismissing anyone or anything that doesnt do what we want immediately. the arts are going to be fucked over by this shit till people work it out and by then it will be too late or they just wont care. i blame baz and auntie george. humanity killing wankers.

Comment by andy@cynic

For someone who used to get Katerina to send his emails for him, that is quite a comment. It is also very topical with many in the technology industry questioning what we have taught our machines and what they may be teaching us in return. Jaron Lanier in particular has been vocal about this and the implications on humanity because of it.

I can not believe I’ve just connected you to Lanier.

Comment by Bazza

He’ll just love Lanier’s music.

Comment by John

Only machines love his music.

Comment by Bazza

You still have the power to surprise, Andrew.

Comment by George

Tibetan nose flute and mandolin chamber music.

Comment by George

I once heard Jaron play live on stage.

I thought it was a Spinal Tap tribute act until I realized he was deadly serious.

His brilliance of mind does not translate to his musical tastes.

Comment by Rob

tell tim cook and larry page im available to consult. they fucking need me.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thoughts and prayers.

Comment by John

Does that mean you won’t be dismissing those people who haven’t bought you big enough presents?

Comment by John

This comment alarms me for so many reasons. 1/ It’s on topic. 2/ It’s an incredibly good comment. 3/ A colleague of mine, the brilliant Kelsey, is literally about to go on stage to talk about this subject. 4/ It taps into what I’ve written about in tomorrows post.

That aside, hope you had a good birthday and hope to see you on Saturday.

Comment by Rob

Sounds like Frog design have been attaching the AI title to stuff that isn’t AI – i.e automated statistics.

I like the ideas you suggest. All very useful, but Alexa isn’t there to be useful for us, it’s there to hoover up contextual data which can then be used to sell stuff more efficiently.

Comment by John

No comment.

Comment by George

It’s another example of my ‘devious strategy’ approach. Give people what they want without them realising they’re actually giving you what you want from them.

That emoji face thing Apple have launched with the iPhone X is another example. Seriously, how much data can a company want?

That is a rhetorical question by the way.

Comment by Rob

Fascinating perspective Robert. As John states, unfortunately the real motivation for these mass market targeting AI companies is self interest.

Comment by Lee Hill

AI has so many amazing uses. Setting a timer or turning the lights on/off is not one of them.

Comment by Rob

Has nobody seen battle star galactica there is only one way this ends

Comment by Northern

You’re almost rivaling me for cultural relevance.

Comment by Rob

[…] Rob on It’s Called Artificial For A Reason … […]

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[…] an interesting argument – especially when you think of what so much of this new era of tech is being used to do from a human interaction perspective – but ultimately I believe the argument is that if we don’t get back to teaching tech […]

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