AI will be useful in the same way that pocket calculators are useful.
loader image

AI in your pocket.

Published Date: 19 February 2024   

Categories: Artificial Intelligence, Tech

It’s been a little over a year since ChatGPT exploded onto our socials and we were stunned into silence, wondering if we were all going to lose our jobs to the AI Bots.  I can report that I for one, have fought off Claude, Bard, Chinchilla and their friends and still have my job. For now.

I have made good use of ChatGPT over this time and continue to test new AI tech as it becomes available. Sometimes I use it for idea generation, sometimes just to get a rewrite of something to give it a fresh appeal but mostly, I use it to streamline work processes.  I have started noticing staff using it in emails and presentations, and even spotting clients briefs that have an AI feel – you don’t need Cramly to spot AI generated text, it has a certain logical repetitive feel to it.  So, we are all using it to some extent but is this a good or a bad thing?

Recently I was watching a Q&A Reel with Sean Carroll from the Royal Institution of Great Britain answering questions on AI. His take on the overwhelming flood of AI is very refreshing – he concludes that AI will be useful in the same way that pocket calculators are useful.  He goes on to say that just as you wouldn’t give a calculator tenure at a university, it’s unlikely you will give AI a job that requires ownership and accountability.  Rather, it’s a tool to help us enhance our lives, both work and personal.

I like this perspective.  It beats the slew of doomsayers that swamped our TikTok’s with cries of “we’re all going to lose our jobs” or telling business owners that they can “save money by using Artificial Intelligence instead of hiring staff”.  As long as there are humans on this planet, we are going to need other humans to help us with the task of being human.  Yes, AI tools will help us along the way but, as with most things, at some point they will get integrated into our lives, much like the doorbell replaced the knocker, or GPS devices replaced paper maps and the compass. Think Alexa or Siri beyond merely responding to your prompts but adding depth and perspective.  Perhaps after finding a recipe and ordering the ingredients for delivery, the AI assistant can talk you through the cooking process and even making suggestions to give your meal a personal touch.

Artificial Intelligence does already offer a myriad of benefits for us marketers, assisting with the way we understand, engage with, and convert customers. Firstly, AI-powered analytics provides deep insights into consumer behaviour, enabling us to analyse vast amounts of data quickly and accurately. This in turn allows for highly targeted and personalised marketing campaigns, increasing relevance and effectiveness. It also helps with automation, streamlining repetitive tasks like email marketing, ad targeting, and content creation, freeing up time for us humans to focus on what humans do best, connecting with other humans through strategy and creativity.

I am not discrediting the significance of AI, especially while it is still a language based model, trained to gather content from all the ‘stuff’ we have said in the past.  Once it can recognize and interpret symbols and maps, it won’t be too long before it can pick up on facial expressions – and then we might be in a different league altogether.  I am hoping that long before this becomes a problem, you know that moment when the AI reads our intent to shut it down for the sake of mankind, we can simply hit the off switch.

I know some folk might read this in disbelief, thinking that I am an ignoramus who cannot taste the cool aid, and will be the first casualty of the Bot wars. But I’ll stand by this – I called out NFT’s and the ‘land grab’ in the Metaverse at their peaks, and where are they now?

But let me conclude with this statement – as humans we are a bit lazy.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, it does drive innovation. Most of our ‘gadgets’ these days were born out of laziness.  I bet some kid who grew up in the 60’s being told to get up (or sit next to the TV set) to change channels, went on to invent the TV remote control. We made something to turn our lights on or off by simply clapping our hands. Siri, Alexa and Hey Google all do little things for us because we don’t want to get off the couch.  These are all examples of commoditisation and that’s where I believe where we are headed in the world of AI.  Pocket calculators with superpowers.

Andre Steenekamp

Managing Director