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.

Ads of the week: 25 September

  • TVC of the week
  • September 25, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the week: 25 September

Congratulations to Contact Energy, Bay Audiology, Flight Centre New Zealand and Ministry of Education.

Read more

Dot Loves Data approved for $15 million to develop AI and machine learning

  • Research
  • September 25, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Dot Loves Data approved for $15 million to develop AI and machine learning
Dot Loves Data partners Dr Paul Bracewell, Matt West, Jason Wells, Mike Brough

Dot Loves Data will soon be advancing the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms with up to $15 million in funding from Callaghan Innovation.

Read more

Sound you can see: Bay Audiology's latest campaign uses sound waves

  • Advertising
  • September 25, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Sound you can see: Bay Audiology's latest campaign uses sound waves

A famously difficult visual medium, sound, has been fused with animation to show just how important it is in our lives in the latest campaign for Bay Audiology by Saatchi & Saatchi.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

topics
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
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 ...

PREScom announces awards to celebrate best of PR, experiential and social media

  • Awards
  • September 25, 2018
  • StopPress Team
PREScom announces awards to celebrate best of PR, experiential and social media

PR, experiential and social media campaigns are set to be recognised with a new annual PREScom Awards, run by The Commercial Communication Council’s PR, Experiential and Social Media Committee (PREScom).

Read more

NZME and Stuff merger rejected by Court of Appeal

  • Media
  • September 25, 2018
  • StopPress Team
NZME and Stuff merger rejected by Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has rejected the proposed merger between NZME and Stuff.

Read more
voices
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018: Simon Jarvis reshapes TAB to win Marketer of the Year
events

TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018: Simon Jarvis reshapes TAB to win Marketer of the Year

From launching the TAB's most successful marketing initiative yet to attracting a new generation of customers, head of strategic marketing Simon Jarvis has taken the challenge of refreshing the brand to new heights.

Who are the 50-plus community on GrownUps.co.nz?
Sponsored content

Who are the 50-plus community on GrownUps.co.nz?

GrownUps is passionate about providing great resources and services for the 50-plus community here in New Zealand. To keep up-to-date with the current trends and insights, each year it runs the GrownUps annual survey, with 150,000 members nationwide invited to participate. Here are some of the results.

Programmatic Guide: Simon Birkenhead on the power of collaboration

  • Voices
  • September 24, 2018
  • Simon Birkenhead
Programmatic Guide: Simon Birkenhead on the power of collaboration

As part of our Programmatic Guide, KPEX CEO Simon Birkenhead looks at New Zealand's programmatic industry and explains the rationale behind building a consortium of local media companies to create a brand safe environment with a scaled audience.

Read more
Radio survey: More FM boasts biggest growth again, Magic waves its wand to listeners and Coast enjoys success
news

Radio survey: More FM boasts biggest growth again, Magic waves its wand to listeners and Coast enjoys success

Another round of radio results brings with it the news that New Zealand radio is a steady business. Commercial radio has retained its 3.4 million New Zealanders (10+) tuning in each week, giving both MediaWorks and NZME reason to celebrate. We break down the results to see how More FM, Coast and Magic had standout performances, while The Breeze and Mai lost some footing.

Follow the money, part four: Where New Zealand's news media is finding pots of funding gold
features

Follow the money, part four: Where New Zealand's news media is finding pots of funding gold

Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a guiding light when it comes to holding the powerful to account. But that phrase is increasingly pertinent to those who run media businesses. As advertising money flows away from traditional channels towards large tech firms, the old business model of selling space around the news is creaking. And that has led to a range of experiments from publishers and broadcasters hoping to keep the lights on – and to keep shining those lights into dark places. Erin McKenzie dives into the local news media feed and finds plenty of experiments, but no simple answer to the funding conundrum.

Ogilvy's senior line up changes with chief creative officer and executive creative directors

  • Advertising
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Ogilvy's senior line up changes with chief creative officer and executive creative directors

Ogilvy has announced a number of senior moves, with Regan Grafton promoted to the role of chief creative officer while Lisa Fedyszyn and Jonathan McMahon become joint executive creative directors.

Read more

Radio survey: total audience tuning into radio waves remains stable

  • Media
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Radio survey: total audience tuning into radio waves remains stable

Its radio survey time again and in the third round for 2018, 3.66 million New Zealanders have been found to listen to radio each week, with The Edge seeing the biggest audience.

Read more

Colleen Ryan: from wolf whistles to Ritson and Sharp

  • Voices
  • September 20, 2018
  • Colleen Ryan
Colleen Ryan: from wolf whistles to Ritson and Sharp

TRA partner Colleen Ryan takes a final look at the Byron Sharp versus Mark Ritson debate, looking at the power of remembering a well-marketed brand.

Read more
The art of story finding
Sponsored content

The art of story finding

There’s some often cited research that says we’re 22 times more likely to recall a story than we are a fact. But when you’re dealing in branded content, perhaps a more useful way to consider this information is that we’re 22 times more likely to recall a fact when it’s wrapped in a story. In this episode, we’re looking at how to put your audience at the centre of your story and letting them experience your brand for themselves.

My Food Bag cooks up August's Ad Impact Award winner

  • Advertising
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
My Food Bag cooks up August's Ad Impact Award winner

With a change of season upon us, August saw a new range of TVCs being tested. While there were plenty on show, it was My Food Bag with its 'Dinner Makes Families' TVC by Saatchi & Saatchi that picked up the Colmar Brunton Ad Impact Award.

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!

©2009–2018 ICG 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