I found a draft I’d written before corona, and thought I’d publish it now just to get a bit of a change of subject. Corona is on my mind day and night.
The photos are from an art exhibition years ago – little cities made out of used pill wrappers. Cities and medicine seem very fitting at this time, almost like the artist knew what was coming.
At work, AI is all the hype. Artificial intelligence.
We’re not quite there yet but that’s the goal. It won’t be long now.
Mostly, it’s being developed for marketing and sales purposes: prospecting, customer retention. I heard that Google and Facebook have the world’s biggest AI labs and you can only imagine what’s going on there. Marketers talking about AI believe that they key to bliss is making everything more personalized for the target audience. Personalized content, services, product proposals, ad copy… that’s how we should be selling. That’s the right way. Optimise everything.
But… do customers really want a personalized experience (at the expense of having all of the corporate world know every detail about their online behavior)? Will a personalized ad make me happy? Will it make me buy something I don’t need and wouldn’t otherwise seek out? What if personalization gets it wrong, won’t it just annoy me even more?
What if I change my preferences? Am I allowed to change my mind and how will the personalized ads know I suddenly became environmentally conscious? Will they continue to throw non-green product ads at me?
And selling products… is that still what makes the world go round? Why not use AI for something more useful, like medicine or cleaning the ocean? (Edit: Or predicting corona.) All of the resources used on creating algorithms for marketing could have been spent more usefully, if you really think about it.
At work, I attended a presentation about passenger ferries that are soon going to be auto-drived. Ferries on auto-pilot. Wait, what? Who wants that – not me! Nor would I want to be in a driverless car, thank you very much, or any other kind of vehicle. (Please stop developing these things.) I hear the metro here is about to go driverless too. What kind of market demand are they satisfying by coming up with these things? Does anyone really want this?
At the office, AI is supposed to replace humans doing mundane jobs and what’ll be left will be work requiring creative thinking, since AI can’t do that. You’d think that by now we would’ve found a way to reduce the amount of work hours we do, so we could spend more time with our loved ones, doing fulfilling things, living our own lives to the fullest, instead of just occupying office space. People only work a few hours efficiently anyway, so holding us all there for 8h a day seems artificial and forced. Like there was a rule that you just cannot have more than 1-2 hours of free time a day. Like back in the day when they thought sitting in a speeding train would make a person lose their mind.
I’ve read articles on theories of how 8-hour work days make the general public so tired that they are easy to handle politically, and too exhausted to be creative, so everyone just pampers themselves with consumerism – buying things to reward themselves, keeping the economy going in more ways than one. (Another edit: I wonder how all this will change after corona, or will we just keep on spending aimlessly on products we don’t need, and working at our office cubicles, punching in and out each day.)
My draft had no ending – I guess that’s why I hadn’t posted it yet. I usually try to find a positive note to end on.
Ideas for endings:
Driverless – we are all finding our inner drivers now. No, that’s too corny.
Corona has made us see what is important again. Nah, too far-fetched.
I’m lucky I still have a job and I hope to continue working from home after all this is over. No, too random.
What would you use AI for, if you had the chance? Yes, that’s a better ending. I’m sure we could all come up with a few better suggestions than ad optimization on our social media feeds.