“I hope that one day you won’t take my job” says the journalist.
“I might reconsider” says Sophia the Robot.
Sophia’s comment is slightly threatening, but she follows it up with a super-sweet smile, and everyone laughs. [Watch the video]
That’s the thing about robots these days. They’re awkward, off-kilter, likely to come out with non-sequiturs, unpredictable in a cutesy way – but ultimately programmed to please and make us laugh.
Sophia the Robot is firmly in uncanny valley territory. Her skin is made of a flesh-like, nanotech material. She has cameras for eyes and a microprocessor for a brain. Her advanced AI (artificial intelligence) software enables her to have human-like conversations.
“Are you a person or a robot?” she asks the journalist. It seems like genuine curiosity.
Back in the 1980s London agency BBH came up with a brilliant ad campaign that is now their corporate mantra. The ad was for Black Levi’s and featured a single black sheep in a flock of white ones. The strap-line ran: “When the world zigs, zag”.
Identify a gap in the market and fill it with something different enough to be exciting but relevant enough to sell: this has long been the holy grail of marketing.
When the world zigs, zag – BBH campaign for Black Levi’s, 1982
In the past, the best ideas depended on sheer creativity and gut instinct as much as market research. Today’s brands have an always-on, direct line to their customers.
The overarching theme – and one that was centre stage – is that we’re now in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (which has come hot on the heels of the Third). So while we may feel we’re only just getting to grips with the impact of digital, it’s time to start wrapping our heads around AI (artificial intelligence) and automation – and fast.
In social media alone, automation and bots are now commonplace. From chatbot games to automated customer service, organisations are finding that an upfront investment in machine learning software can pay dividends in the long run.
If this last week has taught us anything, it’s that our data – the data we put into Facebook (and other social networks) has real, tangible value. Corporations and politicians are buying and selling it. And sometimes it gets into the hands of people we don’t particularly like.
How do we make this stop? I don’t know, but I do know it’s not as simple as #deleteFacebook. That seems all too much like putting your fingers in your ears and singing loudly.
Yesterday was one of the most fun working days I’ve had in a while: I got to spend the morning with a group of brilliant, funny and talented women, putting together a live TV show at Facebook HQ. Thanks so much Sue Black and Isabel Chapman of #techmums for having me 🙂
The topic was “how to find work online”. I was on there to talk about using LinkedIn, understanding your digital footprint and building a personal brand. My fellow guest was the amazing Charlotte Pearce who runs a marketing company called Inkpact which sends handwritten notes at scale. Inkpact employs around 400 “scribes”, many of whom are mums working from home.
In the photo you can see me (second left), sharing a giggle with Sue (far left), Charlotte (second right) and Isabel (far right). One of the main aims of the show is to talk about technology in a way that is positive and accessible.
Andy Warhol said that in the future we will all be famous for 15 minutes. George Orwell predicted constant surveillance. Maybe it’s only with hindsight that we see these two things as inextricably linked: our “fame” always comes at a price.
Online social networks offer us free connectivity and the ability to broadcast edited versions of our lives. In exchange, we give them our data. Trouble is, the details of this contract have never been clearly articulated or explained, much less negotiated.
Last week I went to Facebook’s new office in London for a Design Jam. The Design Jams are open innovation – a series of hackathons to help Facebook users better understand, improve and navigate the legal complexities of its website.
Facebook is understandably concerned that it may be losing younger users and that hours spent on the platform are declining. Last week’s event focused on data transparency for young people.
Last Wednesday evening celebrity Kylie Jenner tweeted that she wasn’t really using Snapchat any more. By Friday, Snap Inc’s share price had dropped $1.3billion and the popular news websites were screaming that Jenner had caused it all:
Around midday Friday I got an email from BBC Breakfast asking if I’d be prepared to come on and talk about celebrity and social media. Well, of course I would. So that’s how I came to be sitting in a studio in Manchester’s Media City at the sort of time most Saturdays I’d still be in bed, chatting to presenters Jon Kay and Rachel Burden, and showbiz reporter Lucy J Ford.
Revenue is also up: the company took $286 million in advertising income in the year to December 2017. Snapchat recently simplified its advertising platform, making it easier for brands to access the network. These changes appear to be paying off.
In 2014 Snap CEO Evan Spiegel came under attack when a series of offensive emails sent while he was at college were leaked online. He made a public apology. Last year, he married supermodel Miranda Kerr in a quiet ceremony. The couple are now expecting their first child. Maybe Snapchat, like its CEO, is finally growing up.
NB: If you were up bright and early on 7 February you might have caught me discussing these points in a live interview on BBC World Service Newsday.
On Tuesday I went to a school careers fair to talk about working in social media. Nearly all the pupils I met (aged 13 – 16) were already active on social networks like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram; a couple had their own YouTube channels.
Some of them asked me how to become an influencer. They were keen to monetize their presence like Zoella or KSI. One of them wanted to know how to ‘be famous”. Most had questions about how to make the jump from using social media for personal social networking to using it for work.
Here’s the advice I gave:
1. Yes, there are YouTubers and celebrities who’ve become famous and made millions from their social media profiles. They probably make up less than 1 percent of people who earn a living through social media. Many of these (like Paris Hilton or Kylie Jenner) already had money and networks of privilege to help them. Others (like PewDiePie or Jenna Marbles) have become leading influencers through their own unique style and delivery – and sheer hard work. It’s not impossible but the odds will be stacked against you.
Even if you’re not into Chinese astrology, you might be vaguely interested to know that 2016 was the year of the Monkey (trickery) and 2017 the Rooster (wake up call). Now it’s time to be true to yourself with the loyal, dependable dog.
The Earth Dog is about honesty, fairness, integrity, healing and stability. And who’d say no to a bit of that?
This is good, because I’m starting 2018 with a two month sabbatical. After 18 months solid client work, I’m finally free to pause and take stock. Reflection is important: it’s a great time to acknowledge and celebrate the good stuff while also learning from the bad.
So I’ll start by shining a light on the things that really matter.
Here are my five New Year resolutions for 2018 (if you see me, hold me to them).
1. Appreciate more
Take time to do more for the ones closest to me. Especially my family and those that have loved and looked after me in recent months. My mum turns 80 in February so we’re taking to her to Tromsø to see the Northern Lights. The past two years have not been easy for my sisters so I’m going to spend more time with them. And my daughter has got used to her mum not being available, so I’m looking forward to doing more with her. First stop is Alice in Winterland. And we’ll be hopping on the District Line to our fave free museum, the Victoria & Albert, for Balenciaga and of course, Winnie-the-Pooh.