Keep calm, but you’re dumb

Adrian French, Senior Strategist

Keep calm, but you’re dumb

You’re university educated? Bi, maybe, multi-lingual? A digital native? (or working really hard to look like one) You’ve learnt how to hot desk even though you kinda hate it. And you read articles on LinkedIn so that you can talk the talk of disruptive innovation, ecosystems, and insight-led strategic frameworks.   

But you’re getting dumber by the day.

Whatever you’re doing to remain – or appear – skilled, relevant and switched-on in the modern workplace there are some pretty smart new kids on the block.  No, not the new grads with their fresh perspectives - the ones who don’t even need a desk (what?!). I mean: The Bots.

Chatbots have found their way into the zeitgeist and are – like all technology innovations – polarising opinion. Just this week it is reported1 that:

Facebook abandoned an experiment after two artificially intelligent programs appeared to be chatting to each other in a strange language only they understood.

But to allay fears that ‘The robots are coming!’ Facebook stopped the experiment, explaining that they had wanted to develop “bots who could talk to people”. For sure. 

Whether you’re for or against, the bots are indeed coming. In fact, many are already here and - like all computers given specific tasks - in one way or another they can do more than we can.  

We’ve all experienced bad chat. In my experience, humans are terrible at it and simple question-and-answer bots are too. They can be both frustrating and, frankly, useless2.

But the smart bots that use AI learn …and can learn fast. They can have conversations at scale, 24/7.  They don’t require us to use ‘expected’ forms of language or speak with an accent that is unnatural because they’ve already had similar conversations with people like us before. And, unlike people, they’re programmed to remember everything.

Your apps may start talking amongst themselves soon...

Good chatbots suck-up and interpret data from their interactions like really big still-living sponges and this can be used in ways that are both useful and valuable. They give the owners of the data – let’s call them brands – insights that they couldn’t have gained before. This creates business intelligence that, in turn, means we get better experiences: quicker, better-contextualised answers. At least that’s the theory.

AI is being applied to all kinds of situations and is becoming the face of many brands3 because the benefits are clear: chatbots allow us to create smarter and better-connected business solutions that are more meaningful to the people we want to engage because they can use personal data and preferences to tailor what, how and when we engage.

But keep calm, dumb people.

There is probably always going to be a place for the human touch or thought. If chatbots are being deployed to have the conversation allowing us to do away with human battery-working, like all call centres, we will probably still be needed to manage those conversations. We will need to determine the context in which the chatbots operate legally and ethically. And we have instincts that allow us to understand nuance and relativity – most of the time – fairly well.

Right now, chatbots are ever-better at rational, informational and transactional exchanges. But they’re not so great at the emotional and that’s where we’ll always excel.

So if thinking about all of this is a little upsetting, saying ‘I’m fine’ with big crocodile tears in your eyes won’t yet understood by chatbots in the way you might want it to be.  I just tried telling Siri this very thing and he (mine’s a he) matter-of-factly replied: ‘I’m relieved to hear that’. I know what he really meant was: ‘I’m relieved to hear that [uh, whatever], you dumb human’.

As your brand and technology partner, we’ll help you discover what’s possible.

We’ll make sure that the way we work is the right fit for your business, and we’ll ask the right questions to make sure you’re set up for success.

Together, we’ll create a unique advantage for your brand.

We are TheTin – building brands through technology, email [email protected]

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