123

A tale of two robots

  • Voices
  • February 1, 2018
  • Michael Goldthorpe
A tale of two robots

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was 1859 when Dickens wrote Tale of Two Cities and in short, the period was so far like the present … it’s downright scary.

And that’s before you start talking about robots.

This week I read two stories about robots that looked so similar they could have been brothers. One in a Sydney airport and another in a Scottish supermarket. Both experiments in the future of customer service. 

Introducing ‘Chip’, he’s here to help.

Air New Zealand partnered with CommonWealth Bank to run a five day trial with ‘Chip’. CDO Avi Golan says “the experiment is another way we are pushing the boundaries to ensure we remain at the forefront of technology which will allow us to further enhance the experience we offer our customers". And that’s great. Boundaries pushed. Apparently, ‘Chip’ can ‘converse’ with customers and point them in the right direction. But the robot itself? It’s scary.

Farewell ‘Fabio’, he just got fired.  

Same day I clocked a story about Fabio. Similar story. Similar tech. But he started work a few days earlier. And that’s how long it took them to ‘fire’ him. ‘Fabio’ was part of an experiment run for a BBC programme. It was his job to interact with customers saying hello, telling jokes and helping them find stuff in the store. As it happened he freaked people out. It’s not hard to see why.

Can we replace humans with robots?

That’s the goal in the examples above. And it’s not quite working. Yet. But in hundreds of other examples, it already does. I reckon Air New Zealand’s most successful robot is the kiosk that checks you in. I also love the robots in the supermarket that beep and weigh my stuff so I can whistle through the automatic check out. And let’s not forget the quiet brilliance of automatic teller machines, helpful little robots that give you access to your cash at any time of the day or night. But things go wrong when robots start looking like people. Or do they?

Leaping the uncanny valley. 

Idealog recently published a piece about a business called Soul Machine. Their goal is to build life-like, learny, interacty avatars that talk to you just like humans. And they’re next-level brilliant and they seem to be working. But why is that?

Back in the 1970s, a Japanese robotics guy called Masahiro Mori noticed that the more robots resembled humans, the more people connected with them. To a point. But as soon as he started adding synthetic skin, people began to freak out. His theory was that robots without human characteristics were a bit boring. But too many human characteristics and they generate a sense of disquiet and even dread - like a high-fiving android in a Supermarket. Mori identified the balance between nearly human and fully human as the uncanny valley – and avoiding it is all about understanding people.

Moore’s law keeps giving us more. We need to stay focused on people.

Back in 1965, a tech guy called Gordon Moore (co-founder of Intel) observed that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles every two years. Loosely translated that says the potential applications of computerised technology double every two years. It’s exponential technological change. And we’re living it. And it’s changing the world. The way we work is being disrupted. The way we communicate has changed out of sight. Politics is all over the place. Economists are re-working the rules. Even reliable constants like currencies are all up for grabs as technology pushes us ‘forward’.

But the thing that doesn’t change is people. We still like to surround ourselves with friends and family. We need the essentials to keep us fed and warm and we like the treats to spoil each other and create experiences. We’re happy when we feel safe and sad when we’re scared or alone. These are the constants of the human condition. And these are the fundamental building blocks of marketing. And that’s the point.

Forget www try Who? What? Why?

Living through the disruptive pace of Moore’s Law it’s easy to get caught up in the shiny and new. The robots aren’t coming, they’re already here. And those algorithms and platforms and chatbots give us smart new ways to grab attention and sell more stuff.

But if you’re finding it hard to keep up, just do what we do and go back to basics. Ask yourself three simple questions: Who are we trying to help? What can we do to help them? and Why will they care? And from that baseline of solving genuine problems for real people, the future will be so much like the present… only better.

That’s what I reckon, what do you think?

  • Michael Goldthorpe is a managing partner at Hunch.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Cannes 2018: highlights from day three

  • Awards
  • June 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Cannes 2018: highlights from day three

While we slept, Colenso BBDO added to its gong collection, with four Lions awarded to Pedigree’s ‘SelfiStix’. Saatchi & Saatchi also made the scoreboard with a Bronze Lion and New Zealand's success looks to continue with more finalists announced.

Read more
topics
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
voices

Cannes 2018: highlights from day two—UPDATED

  • Advertising
  • June 19, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Cannes 2018: highlights from day two—UPDATED

Colenso BBDO is the first New Zealand agency to make it onto the winner's board with a Bronze Lion picked up in the Health and Wellness category. It's since received six mentions in shortlists overnight alongside FCB, DDB and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Read more

Cannes 2018: Colenso BBDO is the first New Zealand agency to make a shortlist

  • Advertising
  • June 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Cannes 2018: Colenso BBDO is the first New Zealand agency to make a shortlist

It's that time of year again, with adland taking to the French Riviera for a week of education, inspiration and celebration. So far, the shortlists for the Glass, Innovation, Titanium, Pharma, and Health and Wellness categories have been released to kick off the buzz that’s set to last until the last Lion is announced on Friday.

Read more
Sponsored content

Both sides now: a look at the tension between clients and agencies

Client-agency partnerships are often love/hate relationships that leave both sides delighted and frustrated all at the same time. Insight Creative’s CEO, Steven Giannoulis, shares his experience on both sides and dishes up advice on working better together.

Rub of the green: our picks for future New Zealand weed brands

  • Advertising
  • June 18, 2018
  • Idealog
Rub of the green: our picks for future New Zealand weed brands

Marijuana has been legalised or decriminalised in a number of countries and states and a whole heap of entrepreneurs and savvy marketers have jumped on the hashwagon. In fact, some commodity traders have called marijuana ‘the next coffee’, such is its potential as a consumer good. In New Zealand, it may not be too long before the same thing happens, with those wacky-backy-loving liberals from Labour close to letting medical marijuana through in some form and a number of local go-getters are ready to light the fuse and fly high. It seems like a slippery, smoky, skankin’ slope to a free-market free-for-all (and, according to Family First, the inevitable downfall of society). So, given this likely shift, here are some brands that might soon exist.

Read more

Kiwi Cultural Code #1: earned success

  • Voices
  • June 18, 2018
  • Claire Tutill
Kiwi Cultural Code #1: earned success

Kiwis have traditionally shied away from celebrating their successes. But the tides are turning and we’re getting more comfortable fronting up to our wins, but only as long as it’s done with humility and backed up with proof. TRA marketing manager Claire Tutill takes a look at awards for awards sake.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit