From the role of technology in human experiences to whether women creatives will have to fight the robots next to quantum computing and using AI and tech to aid the industry in being more creative – these and more were some of the takeaways from SXSW 2018, in Austin, Texas, discussed at The Drum and The Sun Arms.
The panelists included Karmarma managing partner, Hannah Matthews; Peter Dolukhanov, group chief technical officer; and Imogen Tazzyman, creative director.
Putting the human back into customer experiences
Matthews said that brands need to bring back the friction that has been lost in the customer experience. Humanity and technology needs to marry to be memorable in the moment and allow customers to experience something in order for it to be worthwhile, according to her.
She explained: “We've all focused a lot, as brands, on making customer experiences really friction-less. We are all used to ordering from Amazon Echo or pressing a button and getting an Uber and have become almost sort of become invisible.” It is as though the human has become unnecessary in their own daily life. Referencing The Drum and Karmarama panel with Dr Kate Stone, she continued: “Is there a question about putting the friction back into brand experiences that are more memorable? If you don't have an experience, you don’t remember anything and therefore you're not meaningful. How do we use things like sight, smell, touch or ritual to think about new brand experiences using technology? The loss of friction may not be the best thing for brands in the long term.”
Matthews added how there was a lot of talk about 5G and devices getting smaller at SXSW. Talking about her experiences at the festival, she said that with the like of bio-hacking becoming more popular and having chips embedded into your hand, it removes the need for a lot of phone devices. “Some think that is a bit weird,” says Matthews, “but we're already doing it, you already half your brain in the phone you are carrying about and we are already augmenting ourselves, this is only the next phase. Chip implants in the future may be like getting a tattoo or piercing.”
She concluded: “In this world right now of ethics and doing the right thing and how we do the right thing for brands, we need to be asking why we are doing it and what our purpose is. It's an amazing world right now for brand people to get involved, so go to debates and help companies and businesses shape their reason for being and why they are doing it.”
Reshaping the world with tech to make it a better place
Dolukhanov identified the top trends of where the industry will be in three to five years’ time, and according to him, the key trends include screenless future, ethereum, blockchain and Quantum computing.
On Quantum computing, Dolukhanov said: “I was quite surprised that this was such a big topic,” referencing to a keynote by serial entrepreneur William Hurley, who has a new startup focusing on humanising quantum.” Everyone is talking about AI right now, he explains and Whurley (William Hurley) is doubling down on quantum instead. When quantum arrives fully, it's going to change everything.
When quantum computers arrive, they will have qubit's, a new type of chip within for example a phone, Dolukhanov explained. “When we have 300 qubits, they will be 500 times faster than any chip out there. In the last couple of years, Google have released the nine-qubit computer, Intel followed up with 17 qubits and Google finally announced 72 last year. At 100 qubits a single quantum computer processor would, theoretically, be more powerful than all the supercomputers on the planet combined."
He concluded: “Quantum computers can solve problems that would take ordinary computers billions of years to solve. So, looking at weather, traffic, climate change, cancer research, current computers are limited to how fast we can solve those.” AI right now is fairly basic, but once quantum arrives, theoretically it could help solve real issues like cancer.
Are the robot overlords coming?
Tazzyman shared her experiences of how robots are going to replace humans. Will they take our jobs? Will they be the creators? She talked about a robot at that could write pieces of music. But is that a piece of music you’re going to want to listen to?” she asked. “Absolutely not!”
She went on to add: “Psychologist Rob Ebstein said that ‘we haven't been building the internet, we've been building the internet.’ Which is where AI is going to live, breath and prosper in the future, when it will have control of all our finances, transport, weapons and then it will decide what to do with us.
“With all of that going on, I thought, as a creative are these robots going to take our jobs? Are they going to start creating? In particular, as a creative director as only 12% of this role are female, do we have to fight the bloody robots as well?”
Watch the video below to hear more takeaways from SXSW.