The future of automation in a consumer world

If you’re looking for a good book to read this summer that covers AI technology and social media all set in a futuristic but very believable setting, then I have the book for you. 

It’s called Passengers by John Marrs. Don’t worry, I won’t be writing any spoilers, but here’s the gist of the storyline. All cars now are completely driverless and a hacker has taken control of eight cars and is plotting for them to be on a collision course. If anyone interferes, then the cars will be blown up immediately! The background of the eight passengers is revealed in the following chapters. And of course, the dilemmas for these passengers is broadcast live on social media, so the caring(!) general public can vote and comment as to which ones should survive.

This is a great suspense thriller book whether you are interested in AI or social media and it raises questions about the future role of automated technology in a consumer world.

We are getting more and more accepting about sharing data and relinquishing control with machines, if we perceive it will make our lives easier. A lot of us wear fitness watches and bands that is tracking our every step and location. And we have voice automated systems in our homes listening to our every word. In the consumer marketing world, programmatic ad buying and use of chatbots are gaining in usage, as we strive for more efficiencies.

Within this world of automation, what is the role of the human element? In the 80s, Rick Springfield sang: we all need the human touch but is this still the case? Well, machine learning helps to speed up the overall process to deal with the routine day-to-day tasks, but it’s clear that the human interaction of more empathetic and thought-provoking tasks are still valid and needed.

Take customer service, for example. While we may not need an agent to transfer money, when something goes wrong we need a human interaction to pacify our concerns. Good customer service on social media has to include a human element, as automated technology cannot write every response in a carefully crafted and empathetic manner. No matter how hard a machine tries, the responses come across as corporate, cold and robotic in nature. A good social media engagement specialist will be able to spot the context of the situation and respond in the most appropriate way.

Would I buy a completely driverless car? Never. Maybe I’m too much of a control freak. But I don’t know many people that would.

Automated technology is another mechanism to help speed up our personal and business lives, but it will never replace the need for human thinking, interaction and intervention. 

BTW – I bought the actual book to read, rather than on an electronic reader. You can never replace the thrill of opening up and smelling a new book!

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