Friday, February 16, 2018

Should we code humanity into evolution?

AI - if you take the leap to superintelligence and the singularity - may be our next and massively accelerating evolution. In the decades to come that evolution is likely to decide how many of the 'flaws' of humanity have a place in our/the future.

If we do have any control over it, how can we hard code our nobler selves into a new version Three Laws of Robotics? The evolutionary advantageous urge to co-operate, our empathy (leading to altruism, care for others, love), the value we place on trust (and our innate ability to sense deception). 

These are not questions of the far future. If we believe there is something worth protecting about humanity now is the time to consider it.

No-one and nothing survives the process of evolution indefinitely. We are in the unique position of both creating our replacement and having an opportunity to set its behaviours for the future.

The challenge when trying to set rules for behaviour though is the huge cultural weight shaping our view of wrong and right. That view varies from culture to culture and through time.

Do we have the right we have to set the rules for how our replacements must behave?

Or should we leave it to evolutionary forces among competing super-intelligences?

We have that choice.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

The problem with loyalty

Imge from

The problem with most loyalty programs is that they equate frequency with loyalty.
These are two very different things in customers' heads - and need treating and responding to very differently.
This becomes abundantly apparent if you take the time and trouble to contextualise your relationship with customers - but is easily missed if you charge head long towards one-size fits all operations in which the customer is simply the cash output device.
Let me give you an example. Imagine I have a strong affinity with an airline brand. Imagine that every time I fly long haul I choose them over all rivals. I'll even happily pay more for brand satisfaction I get from the reassurance of my choice.
But I'm not a frequent flyer.
In loyalty scheme terms I struggle to get off base.
But in actual loyalty - I'm the one who will be thrilled with the upgrade, I'm the one who will advocate to my peers how great the brand is and why they should follow my lead.
The frequent flyer has a sense of entitlement. Typically she is flying at least every week on business. If 30 per cent of those flights are with 'my; brand, the airline will see her as more deserving of special treatment - even though she doesn't see the treatment as in any way special.
She is in no way loyal - playing the varying airline loyalty status cards to get her the best deals. She cares much less which airline, more which rewards she can muster.
In summary; the frequent flyer doesn't care about your brand, expects you to go above and beyond for her (and will share negatively with her peers when you don't) and is not making you her default choice when flying. Yet these are your focus?
The loyal consumer chooses you by default every time they get to choose. They advocate for you. Going the extra mile for them creates massive value for them thatt they will talk about.
So isn't it time Loyaty grew up a bit and started recognising where rewards really create value. Lifetime Value has to factor for advocacy, for a real relatonship with the brand - one which runs far deeper than promiscuous frequency.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Imagination beyond experience - the leap to Super-Human

Image from the movie Superman
Humanising AI is a worthy and common dream. And it is where and how we should focus to create value in the near term. But a greater challenge looms.

While we always seem to want to make AI 'think like a human', we know that when it doesn't, it can outperform us (in narrow fields, where ambiguity is constrained, at least) for example in the games of Chess and Go!

While we always seem to want to make bots look like humans, we know that there are many more efficient designs to meet specific needs. The human body is a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none (compare us with the highest performers in any particular parameter from the animal kingdom.)

And while we always seem to want to make AI behave like humans, we know humans behave irrationally and often against our best interests.

Imagining super-human (ie outside of human) thinking, design and behaviours will be our next great challenge. And for that we are going to have to truly partner the machines because this will take us beyond our own experience.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?