The age of the robot economy is upon us and picking up speed quickly. Imagine if you will, that you log onto your computer and are offered a fantastic pair of new shoes, exactly the pair that you had been dreaming about because AI knows your preferences almost better than you do. Now, imagine that you decide to make the purchase and a drone delivers them to your front porch the same day. The question is whether AI will bring about a new age of hyper-consumerism, particularly in the already material-crazed society of the West?
AI and Big Data Marketing
No one can argue that we are an online society. Everything we do including shopping, work, socializing, and entertainment are now online. We are also increasingly aware that our every move online, and sometimes offline, is being recorded by surveillance software and cameras. The collection of our personal data has become ubiquitous. Big data is also the lifeblood of AI and its ability to predict what we want and when we want it.
No one can argue that we are an online society. Everything we do including shopping, work, socializing, and entertainment are now online. We are also increasingly aware that our every move online, and sometimes offline, is being recorded by surveillance software and cameras.
AI systems are being developed that are designed to build relationships with their human counterparts. Furthermore, it seems that humans are more than willing to form emotional attachments and bond with them. The power of AI to manipulate human behavior is quite surprising, but where is this ability to manipulate us headed? Will it be the next driving force of the economy?
Can AI Really Predict What We Want?
How many times have you logged onto Facebook and the first advertisement was something that you Googled in the last few days? This is no coincidence and is the first attempts to use AI to deliver ads to you that are relevant to your needs, but this is not where AI will end. It promises to build a world that caters to our every individual need and preference.
New Technology in the food and beverage industry promises to bring an era where AI will have the ability to alter food to individual tastes. This app collects data on the flavor experiences of different tasters in an attempt to find the drivers of individual preferences. The software is still in the development stage, but in the future, it is expected to be able to have the ability to concoct foods and beverages that appeal to more individual preferences, making the flavor of the food or drink hit the right “spot” for the consumer.
Product research tools that are designed for Amazon sellers are only one example of how big data is currently being used to help sellers determine the best strategy for pricing and marketing plans. Rather than trying to change the preferences of consumers, this new marketing strategy takes advantage of their existing personality and preferences.
Are They Here To Take Our Jobs?
There are already several examples of AI taking away jobs. One example is the case of the gas station attendant. There are generations who have no idea that in the past when you went to fill up your car with gas, a real human being came out to pump it and take your cash. Since the advent of pay at the pump technology, gas station attendants were no longer needed and became obsolete.
The next question is whether the ability of AI to predict human shopping habits and offer exactly what they want according to individual preferences means that the traditional sales force is the next job to be eliminated by AI. Now, AI is attempting to take over the trucking industry, cab industry, and has the potential to one day deliver rural mail.
The question is what will replace the wages by the jobs that have been lost? Universal basic income is one suggestion that has been proposed to fill the gap in the job deficit. This assumes that AI will replace lower paying jobs, but for those in high-tech jobs, this could still mean a significant loss of income.
Another problem is how to fund this program. With fewer people in the workforce, this means less tax revenue from income-based sources. It is debatable whether an increase in taxable sales revenues will be enough to fuel this new program. This also has several implications for the wage gap between the jobs that have been lost and those that are still employed in some fashion. There are many questions still to be answered about how this program would work and the effects that it would have on the economy.
AI and the New Economy
Consumers are more likely to purchase items that fit an already existing want. The potential of what AI can do is no longer speculation. The use of AI for commercial applications has grown tremendously in the past several years, increasing 61 percent from 2015 to 2016.
It is expected that taking away routine decision-making from humans will free them for more intellectual and creative pursuits, allowing them to do more meaningful things with their time. This means that if the consumer does not have to take time to shop, they can enjoy their life more. The decision is being taken from them in the form of manipulating their shopping habits by offering them algorithmically generated choices.
The ability of AI to predict humans needs and behavior is only as good as the data behind these decisions. Shared data across platforms will mean greater accuracy in the ability of AI to predict human preferences. This means that AI depends on a loss of personal privacy when it comes to our behaviors and habits. This is perhaps the greatest hurdle that promoters of this technology have to overcome. Like it or not, people are becoming accustomed to having their every move monitored by AI, and companies that don’t take full advantage of this and incorporate it into their growth strategy will likely be sidelined. It is the way of the future and it will become a driving force in the economy of the near future.