Will AI know what’s best for us?
I’ve been reading predictions with some amusement about how AI virtual assistants will make our lives easier and better by thinking for us. The prognosticators of AI technology remind me of the early days of social media and its love fest promise of brands building relationships and interacting with their customers. Well, we all know where that got us. Which brings me to AI platforms and big tech.
Are marketers and brands ready to surrender to virtual assistant technology?
In January of this year, Amazon revealed that more than 100 million Alexa-powered devices have been sold. From my perspective, this is one more example of digital disruption which could lead to a giant virtual paywall that will affect advertising agencies and brands. Much like brands paying a premium for shelf space in retail outlets, the insertion of a third-party platform with the ability to control and influence the brand/customer relationship could be perceived as an extortion tactic designed to make big tech even bigger. On top of the aforementioned, think about all the personal data that will be harvested, segmented, packaged and sold to the highest bidder by Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc., that provide the infrastructure for AI virtual assistants.
Don’t be paranoid, but do you hear footsteps behind you?
We all have heard big tech’s argument that we are willing, even glad, to give up our personal information and privacy for the perceived convenience that the tech platform may provide. Let’s take this one step further and continue to look at AI from the viewpoint of interloping on the brand/customer relationship.
If the finely tuned AI algorithms are empowered to make purchasing decisions, what happens to brand loyalty? Will the brand promise be thrown out the window and replaced with a monetary equation to justify the purchase? Will the acquisition of new customers flow through the AI platform? Will brand awareness and preference become obsolete? If this is the case, what will the cost be to access customer shopping data and for the brand to be placed on the consideration list?
The basic issue is TRUST
Can we as consumers trust virtual assistants and big tech with the most personal details of our lives, from what we eat to our alcohol consumption to the prescriptions we take? Are we as humans ready to relinquish control of our lives and well-being to an inanimate third party platform? Or to put it another way – do you trust bitcoin and block chain, or do you prefer cash and real estate?
The big Apocalypse
It’s not if but when. The big one WILL NOT be nuclear, it will be cyber. No one wins in a nuclear war. Countries go to war over assets, not ashes. Just review the events of the last several years – the overriding concern are cyber-attacks on our way of life and the infrastructure that supports it. Now, project into the future when the virtual assistants decide that they know best what is good for us and decide to pull the plug. I can only hope for a quick reboot.