CES 2018, our love of AI is anything but artificial

January 15, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), an annual technological trade show, took place in Las Vegas last week. It’s where you go to see the latest gadgets and technologies that will appear on your Christmas list next year—and for many years after that. This latest wave of innovations and trends is worth evaluating in relation to the findings in iLife, the latest Prosumer Report from Havas that looks at our relationship with technology. The survey, conducted in 32 markets (including Quebec), explores our expectations and fears about artificial intelligence, as well as our viewpoints on private information and having romantic relationships with bots.

Our relationship with AI: it’s complicated

Our relationship with artificial intelligence has been ambiguous from the start. The fantasy of having our everyday routine eased by a robot valet versus dystopic tales of robots rebelling against the human race. All in all, the majority of Canadians and Quebecers worry that artificial intelligence will negatively impact human intelligence.

In the meantime, for many, the robot fantasies go way beyond having a personal valet. What made the biggest ripple at CES 2018 was the presentation of robot exotic dancers. But relax! It’s hardly a technological innovation! This type of robot has been working the pole for nearly 10 years (a respectable career in that industry). This wasn’t a technological breakthrough, but rather, a cultural and sociological shift. Our attraction to these robots is what really spiced up the conversation.

What’s more, the Prosumer Report confirms that more people are becoming comfortable with the thought of having a romantic (even sexual) relationship with robots. In fact, 15% of Canadians are open to the idea. More interesting still, 54% of Chinese Millennials say they are ready to try the experience.

Brands, our new roommates

Even if we’re all not ready for robot love, many of us are open to living with robots. In recent years, we’ve seen the arrival of voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home in our homes. At CES, these assistants have moved “out of the box” to integrate with a variety of other products. In fact, Google recently announced +15 partnerships to get its voice assistant integrated with other home products, including your TV and oven.

This evolution has allowed the consumer experience to further penetrate our living spaces. Brands are increasingly infiltrating our homes. They pay our rent, refill our fridges, deliver packages inside our homes while we’re away and manage our lighting/music systems. Yes, they provide a service… but they learn even more about us. Worldwide, 25% of people would like brands to use their personal data to anticipate their needs and deliver products directly into their homes. The numbers in Canada (14%) and Quebec (11%) are considerably lower. With the proliferation of voice assistants at home, the amount of data available will certainly continue to multiply.

Say goodbye to your private life

The globe over, our society loves technology. Tech companies are routinely featured on the front page and their founders enjoy a hero’s welcome. #Zuckerberg2020, anyone? But what holds us back? Two-thirds of those surveyed believe that it will soon be impossible to keep personal information confidential. This fear is what limits greater personalization of the technological experience. And what has made data management an important brand message.

The impact for brands

  • Double your efforts to build trust
  • Consumers entrust you with more than their needs for goods or services—they are giving you the keys to their homes. Brands who take advantage of this trust will be punished by consumers. The closer the brand to us, the higher our expectations as consumers.

  • The human behind the machine
  • We all know that a strong personality is key to building a strong brand, but it is necessary when artificial intelligence is added to our interactions. Nobody wants to talk to a robot. That’s why Google technologists have relied on comedians, writers and empathy experts to refine the tone of voice assistants.

  • Be a “good parent” when it comes technology use
  • Considering that 58% of respondents worldwide think that car manufacturers should block entertainment apps when someone is driving alone, expectations are obviously high when it comes to a brand’s capacity for goodwill. We want our technological experiences to be always more enriching and secure. 

  • Privacy is the true battlefield
  • People (rightfully) worry about how personal information is shared. Data leaks are legion, so brands must take greater pains to secure our privacy—and they must do so in a transparent way. Today’s consumers understand that nothing is 100% confidential, but if there’s a leak, we want our brands to be upfront about it.

Given these realities, we can rightly wonder how our relationship with the various forms of AI that we interact with will evolve. Are these fears founded? Will we truly become lazier, less creative? Or will we be liberated and enhanced?

Ok Google, what do you think?

Article originally published in French on Infopresse.

Image from Mashable