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Today's AI score: 4.5 out of 6

On jun 7, 2019, branders published my article called 6 brand musts for an ai world. Revisiting that article engendered pride in my prescience and humiliation at my lack of imagination.


By Jim Sterne, Founder of the marketing analytics summit,

Co-founder at digital analytics association. Author, ai & ml consultant

Jim sterne

Those "musts" were:

1. Become and Remain Top of Mind

People will need to know your name in order to find you.

Score: Spot On

While I was worried about Alexa and Siri sending me whatever batteries profited them most, findability has gotten far worse with the advent of Generative AI.

Ask Google “What are the best AAA batteries today?” and it will happily report that there are, “About 33,600,000 results (0.58 seconds)”. You will learn that Amazon paid the most to be at the top of the search results, followed by a list of articles that may or may not include affiliate links.

Google Bard, on the other hand, says Energizer Ultimate Lithium AAA Batteries are the best overall (long shelf life and superior performance), Panasonic Eneloop AAA Batteries are the best rechargeables (can be recharged hundreds of times and provide long-lasting power), Duracell Coppertop AAA Batteries are a good budget option, AmazonBasics Alkaline AAA Batteries are a great value (cheap!), and EBL AA Batteries are a good option for rechargeable AAA batteries (“good performance and long shelf life at a very affordable price”).

Only five links: Amazon, Home Depot, Amazon, Amazon, and Amazon (which may or may not be pay-to-play) followed by a list of battery selection criteria.

What’s that? You paid $20,500,000 for “batteries.com” in 2007 and have been sitting on it as your retirement plan ever since? Guess what? Batteries.com is for sale. Guess how much it’s worth today? Zip, Zero. Nada.

Lesson: Asking for your product by name was never more important.

2. Accept the Inevitable

Personal agents are going to happen. Get used to the idea now.

Score: Close, and getting closer

While we’re not quite at the point of my skit about personal AI in 2018, just give it about ten more minutes.

Lesson: Yes, you will need an AI bot to negotiate with customers’ AI bots. Get used to the idea.

3. Learn About the Tech

You must make friends with Machine Learning.

Score: Wrong. So very wrong

Machine Learning? You might as well make friends with COBOL.

We’re travelling through another dimension; a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead - your next stop, Conversational Computers.

We left the command line far behind and passed through the WYSIWYG region of point-and-click. It took a while, but instead of having to learn how to talk to computers, they have learned to talk with us.

Oh yes, it is valuable to know how they work. Files, folders, directories, subdirectories, API calls, reinforcement learning, all that good stuff. Just like it’s good to understand how the transmission differential works in your car. Good, but no longer necessary. When you drive an electric car, you do not need to know how to change the oil... because there isn’t any. You can’t.

Lesson: We’re moving from hammer and saw to power tools.

4. Buy, Don’t Build

You cannot afford or even find a Data Scientist and a Data Scientist doesn’t know your business.

Score: Spot on

Only even more so. All the Data Scientists that were not pulled into the gravity well of Machine Learning have been subsumed into the Black Hole of Generative AI. The good news is that they are powered by a bolus of VC capital not seen since the crypto rage and are busy making a million start ups out of thin air while Big Tech is harnessing their genius to incorporate Generative AI into Word, Excel, and payroll.

Lesson: If you can imagine it, there’s already an AI infused app for that.

5. Rest Assured, You Have A Job

Brand managers will always be needed for three reasons: to determine what problem to solve, discern which data sets the machine should consider, evaluate the output.

Score: Spot on

Generative AI is a wonderful, autistic savant sidekick to a subject matter expert. Emphasis on the sidekick and the expert. Whatever GPT 4, 5, or 6 spits out is the floor from now on. It’s the equivalent of copying and pasting from Wikipedia. Everybody needs to be better than that.

If you are not an expert, you wouldn’t know if the AI is hallucinating or simply boring. You wouldn’t know that there is a more accurate, thoughtful, and engaging way to describe, depict, or express the idea.

However - Generative AI can help you generate the idea! Especially when you have fine-tuned it with your own, curated, private dataset. It is the sidekick that knows the difference between good and bad without any idea at all about right and wrong. It lacks emotional intelligence. It doesn’t get politics. It doesn’t empathize.

Lesson: AI will not replace people. People who use AI will replace people who do not.

6. Start Now

Try it. Test it. Play with it.

Score: Spot on

Generative AI is a new user interface. It is not a database. It is not a search engine. It is not a rules-based, expert logic appliance. It just makes stuff up.

That means learning what kinds of questions Generative AI is best suited to answer.

• Write an email asking for a refund

• Summarize this PDF

• Explain this complex subject to me

• Create a learning plan for me on this topic

• Act as a (branding expert) and map out a social media strategy

“Give me an analogy that help explain Generative AI”

A Parrot: A parrot can mimic human speech but doesn’t truly understand what it’s saying. Similarly, a Generative AI can produce human-like text but doesn’t understand the text in the way a human does. It’s merely replicating patterns it has seen in its training data.

Lesson: The best way to change your frame of reference is through play.

Today's AI score: 4.5 out of 6

You no longer need to learn coding. Every marketing person does not need to learn SQL because it’s all about the data. You need to learn Conversational Computing ... because it’s all about the data. Now that we have a killer interface, let’s let the computer do what it does best: crunch the numbers.

Personal agents are going to throw all of us into a tizzy. Watch this space.

All in all, not a bad score. I ended that 2019 article with this:

The robots are coming. They are coming to help you do your job and to make your job much, much harder. We live in interesting times.

Well, I certainly got that part right.

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