Living with AI: The invisible force shaping our lives

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – In our rapidly evolving world, the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to grow, impacting nearly every facet of our lives. During the middle portion of his presentation on September 14, William Ammerman, author of “The Invisible Brand,”at 79West delved deeper into the four key technological trends powered by AI: Personalization of Information, Science as Persuasion, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing. He unfolded before the audience present how AI is transforming our daily interactions, decision-making processes, and even our perceptions of reality.

Personalization of Information

The World Wide Web revolutionized the way we consume information, and AI has taken personalization to new heights. Each of us carries a pocket-sized portal to the digital world, commonly referred to as smartphones, and these devices serve as mirrors reflecting our preferences, desires, and personalities. When you visit a website or ask a question, the information you receive is tailored precisely to you. This level of personalization is a fundamental shift in how we access and interact with information.

Consider the scenario: You and your neighbor both search for the same topic online, but the results you receive are strikingly different. This phenomenon illustrates the power of AI algorithms that analyze your online behavior and preferences to provide you with content designed to capture your attention and align with your interests. The implications are profound, as this tailored information can shape our views, beliefs, and choices, often in subtle ways.

Science as Persuasion

In the not-so-distant past, marketers relied on focus groups and creative strategies to influence consumer behavior. Today, AI algorithms have transformed persuasion into a precise science. From enticing you to purchase a particular cereal to keeping you engaged with your favorite streaming service, algorithms work behind the scenes to influence your decisions.

For instance, when you log into Netflix, the recommendations you receive are not random; they are carefully curated based on your viewing history and preferences. These algorithms are designed to keep you hooked, providing content that aligns with your taste and preferences, thus maximizing your engagement. The algorithms are everywhere, subtly molding your choices and behaviors.

Machine Learning

AI’s machine learning capabilities are more than just predictive tools; they are prescriptive, actively shaping our actions and outcomes. These algorithms are finely tuned to keep us glued to our devices, offering information that provides pleasure and keeps us coming back for more.

Whether it’s through social media notifications, tailored news feeds, or personalized product recommendations, machine learning algorithms are engineered to make us stay. The more we engage, the more data they collect, further refining their ability to persuade and keep us immersed in the digital world.

robotic hand holding an artificial intelligence chip
Image by on Freepik

Natural Language Processing

Perhaps the most striking development in AI is its ability to engage with us in natural language. We’ve moved beyond typing queries into search engines; now, we can have conversations with our devices. This human-computer interaction feels eerily familiar, as AI systems respond in ways that mimic human conversation.

Voice-activated virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have become integral parts of our lives. We ask them questions, request jokes, and even seek emotional support from these inanimate speakers. This interaction challenges our perception of what it means to relate to technology. A child’s declaration of love for a digital assistant, as witnessed by the author, exemplifies the deep emotional connections we can form with these devices.

The Intersection of Persuasion and Personalization

The collision of the science of persuasion and the technology of personalized messaging is occurring at an unprecedented pace. The result is a landscape where AI influences our choices, behaviors, and even our beliefs. While these developments are fascinating and convenient, they also come with significant ethical considerations.

As AI evolves, it is increasingly likely that people will turn to this technology for answers to profound questions that affect human lives. Should we trust AI to guide us on matters of spirituality, ethics, and morality? It’s essential to recognize that AI, while powerful, is not infallible. It is more akin to a parrot than a genius, echoing our desires and biases.

Navigating the AI Age

The impact of AI on our lives is undeniable, and it’s only going to grow. As we live in a world where AI personalizes, persuades, learns from us, and converses with us, we must approach this technology with a critical eye. It’s crucial to remember that AI is a tool, not an oracle of truth.

In our quest to harness the benefits of AI, we must also guard against its potential to manipulate and shape our thoughts and actions. We should be mindful of the invisible force at play, recognize the boundaries between technology and humanity, and make informed choices about when and how we rely on AI for guidance.

As we navigate the AI age, it’s essential to stay informed, ask questions, and engage in conversations about the ethical implications of AI. This technology is not a passive force but a dynamic and evolving one that will continue to shape our world. By understanding the AI trends at work in our lives, we can actively participate in shaping a future where AI serves humanity’s best interests.

Ammerman concludes that the invisible force of AI is reshaping the way we interact with information, make decisions, and relate to technology. While AI offers tremendous potential, it also raises important questions about ethics, personalization, and the boundaries between humans and machines. As we continue to integrate AI into our lives, Ammerman wants us to remain vigilant and thoughtful, ensuring that we harness this technology for the greater good of humanity.

Watch Living with AI part 2 on YouTube

00:17 There are four technology trends powered by artificial intelligence.

  • The first trend is the personalization of information.
  • The second trend is the science of persuasion.
  • The third trend is machine learning.
  • The fourth trend is natural language processing.

01:54 Personalization, persuasion, and machine learning are changing our behavior

  • Information from devices is personalized to individuals
  • Algorithms can now persuade and influence behavior
  • Machine learning algorithms no longer just predict, but also prescribe

03:38 Humans can now communicate with computers in a human-like way.

  • Computers are designed to learn and persuade with personalized information.
  • The conversation happens anthropomorphically, making it familiar and natural to humans.
  • Communication with computers is no longer limited to typing; we can now talk and interact verbally.

05:34 Using personalized and persuasive technology like Siri may lead to relying on it for important subjects.

  • During a radio interview, the host jokingly asked Siri to buy a book, and Siri actually started ordering it.
  • As humans use this technology, they might start relying on it for important information.

07:24 Technology is not a single source of truth, but a parrot.

  • Technology has the power to deliver personalized messaging on a mass scale.
  • It is important to realize that technology is already operating in our lives.

09:01 A four-year-old is able to navigate a computer user interface using natural language.

  • The child interacted with Alexa, a new device in the kitchen.
  • The child successfully requested and played music and movies using natural language.

10:24 A four-year-old expressed love to a computer interface

  • The child could navigate a computer interface despite not being able to read
  • The mother had a pained expression and walked out, showcasing human emotions in a computer relationship

12:12 The experiment showed that people empathetically project their own experiences onto a robot.

  • The control group followed instructions and had no issues.
  • The test group had participants who refused to turn off the robot due to empathetic projection.

Quick notes

  • 🧬 Personalization of information: The World Wide Web has allowed brands to personalize their messaging based on individual preferences and data, resulting in tailored content for users.
  • 🤖 Science of persuasion: Algorithms are now used to persuade individuals, with data-driven strategies influencing behaviors and decision-making, even in areas like charity and content recommendations.
  • 🤯 Machine learning: Algorithms have evolved from predicting to prescribing, shaping user behavior and preferences by providing personalized information and rewards, ultimately keeping users engaged with technology.
  • 🗣️ Natural language processing: Human-computer interactions are becoming more human-like, with technology responding to voice commands and engaging in conversations.
  • 👶 Early technology adoption: The text mentions a four-year-old using natural language to interact with Alexa, highlighting the intuitive nature of language-based interfaces.
  • 💔 Emotional connection: People often empathize with technology, projecting human emotions onto devices, as demonstrated in the experiment with the robot Nao, where participants refused to turn it off when it expressed fear of the dark.