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Thinking ‘outside the bot’

During a browse on the web I came across a prediction that by 2020 we’ll be spending more time talking to ‘bots’ than to our spouses or partners.

Of course, we’re already interacting with robots on a regular basis. No visit to the supermarket would be without hearing the words ‘Unexpected item in the bagging area’.

And there’s many a website that invites you to ‘chat’ only to find even some of the simplest questions the machine can’t answer. At least that’s my experience when attempting to ‘chat’ online to my bank.

I do admit, however, to being impressed when, on a visit to a friend’s house, he proudly invited me to ask Alexa (other digital assistants are available) to change the colour of the lightbulb in the room. I gawped in amusement as it went from pearly white to blue to red.

So, is the world being taken over by bots of one sort or another? Possibly. I read that as many as 48 million Twitter accounts, up to 15 per cent, could be bots. And I’m sure many of the emails I get are software generated rather than from a human hand.

Of course, bots can be used to positive humanitarian effect; not just to surreptitiously influence our purchasing decisions. There’s some excellent work underway to create chatbots for people with dementia to provide them with a companion to talk to and share memories with.

But while the Artificial Intelligentsia seek to make their prodigy as person-like as possible and infiltrate all walks of life, will they ever be able to truly replace the creative genius of the human brain?

In promoting a brand, yes they can be a useful tool. The information they gather can be priceless but in terms of human interaction it’s still an awkward interface rather than a real relationship.

Will a software programme ever have the imagination to spark an idea that is off the wall but brilliant? Will it be able to, with apologies, ‘think outside the box’?

Would AI, for example have dreamed up Compare the Market’s furry meerkats, Smash’s laughing Martians, THAT Levi launderette advert or the Pure Genius of Guinness? I think not.

‘Hello Alexa. I need a campaign to promote chocolate that will be watched by millions. Got any ideas?’ You’re more likely to get ‘Sorry, I’m having trouble understanding right now. Please try a little later’.

What you won’t get is: ‘How about a gorilla performing an old Phil Collins track, the slow build up and melodramatic drum solo reflecting the anticipation and unbridled joy of eating a block of chocolate.’ Cadbury’s, of course, and still my favourite ad campaign.

At HROC we believe in creative thinking. That’s why we employ more than 50 creative human people. We’ll take your brief, analyse your business objectives then find innovative ways to help you stand out from the crowd.

If you’d like to chat to a real person who can ‘think outside the bot’, give us a call on 0121 454 9707 or email gary.hebblethwaite@hroc.co.uk.

There’s nothing artificial about our intelligence.