AI's going to be your new work buddy? Marry your washing machine, while you’re at it

Photo by Rock'n Roll Monkey on Unsplash

I work with my brother, Lee. He’s a copywriter. I’m an art director. We can have whole conversations in a glance. It’s weird. I can’t do that with a machine. Doesn’t matter how clever it is. It can’t replicate the subtleties of that relationship, regardless of how much information we feed it.

It can’t know what I’m thinking by the look on my face, by the way I respond to an idea. Lee knows that when I say one thing, I mean another. Nobody else knows that. An AI-enhanced system doesn’t know that. It can’t know that. It can make a decision based on what it already knows, but it can’t make a gut decision.

Conversation is cyclical.

Like a washing machine, it goes round and round, the same points being made with different examples.

Every week, every day, we’re told artificial intelligence is our new best friend. That it's going to revolutionise marketing.

Even Asos just launched an AI-assisted board, pushing products by occasion. But is it going to tell you that shirt goes with nothing else in your wardrobe?


Because AI is a machine, a thing. Not a thinker.

The supercomputer IBM Watson created a trailer for the horror film Morgan, based on information it was given by humans. It made a trailer like the trailers it already knew. Clever, sure, but it’s just nuts and bolts without people behind it.

And that’s what people struggle to grasp – AI isn’t all that. It’s not something you can just pull out of a box and expect to work straight away. It’s a process. And that process just doesn’t have the same nuance as a human, the same instinct, intuition. It can’t.

Apparently, some people can’t tell the difference between Beethoven and AI-rendered classical music. The life’s work of Ludwig has been pumped into a database and mined by some dastardly machine.

Yes, the machine can emulate, but it can’t create.

We might laugh at those silly AI Burger King ads, because they’re relatable to every whoopsie we’ve experienced with Alexa or Siri. But even these ads were constructed by humans – as Burger King’s head of brand marketing so succinctly put it: “Artificial intelligence is not a substitute for a great creative idea coming from a real person.”

That’s true. It’s not.

Because AI is the needle, and we are still the thread.

It offers incredible creative capabilities, but it can’t replace creativity. It can aid it, but it’s not a thinker. It needs to be taught how you want it to think.

Because only people can teach. Computers can’t teach.

AI is not going to be your new work buddy.

You’re not going to forge a deep, meaningful bond with your washing machine.

With that in mind, Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba (known as China’s, once said:

“We must teach people to do what computers can’t do. We should teach all of our children sports, entertainment, painting, music and the arts. To make sure that humans are different from machines.

If the machine can do it better than you, that’s something you should think about.”

And we do.

That’s what makes Lee and me different.

Maybe one day I’ll meet a nice washing machine to settle down with.

Until then…

Jade Trott is an art director at Oliver

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