Something Ain’t Right

On the Perils of AI

That’s Artificial Intelligence, the next big thing that’s going to transform us. At least that’s the way futurists and tech visionaries have been telling the story since 1952 or so.

While we await the computer-driven millennium, I think it’s important to maintain some perspective. If you’re a knowledge worker chances are you’ve encountered a colleague, client or C-suite executive smitten with the latest novel technology sure to lead to marketplace domination or a total revolution in whatever sector you toil.

I’m not certain it’s that easy.

Consider the nearby screenshot,   paying particular attention to the logo at the top. This isn’t spam.  The email originated from a company that is no stranger to technology. In fact, if you’re the type that follows the stock market you may recognize it as part of an acronym that includes the largest market cap, most successful tech companies.

So, we should presume they know tech.

I received the message about an hour after checking the price of an item. The subject line of the email said “Discord” and more.” In the body of the message, above the logo, in very small type, a message appears: “We have recommendations for you.”

The word recommendations is hyperlinked. I didn’t click it, but I’m betting it allows you to fine-tune the recommendations you receive.  If you value convenience you may click it. Since I’m always trying to puzzle out the underlying structure, I avoid such invitations.

The body copy tells me “We have found some items you might like.” As advertising verbiage goes that’s hard to get upset with. It doesn’t over-promise and yet it suggests the company that sent the email pays attention to my behavior in order to be helpful.

This is all great marketing stuff, surely assisted by AI. It’s the type of thing certain to make any CMO or VP of Marketing giddy with possibilities.

That data you share at the point of sale is not just saving you money.

Sure, it’s cutting edge and costs a fortune. But you have to admit, that’s much easier than, say, running a POS file, matching transactions to a preferred customer number and then responding in the customer’s preferred channel.  That’s a lot of work.

Here’s the best part, which must fill AI advocates with joy and appear especially enticing to the world’s largest online retailer:  the customer told you what she was looking for.

Marketing technology stories don’t get better than this, even if you have to be a tech behemoth to pull it off.

Please scroll back up and take one more look at the recommendations email. Pay attention to the types of products offered. Also,  take note of the products listed. It’s okay if you don’t recognize them, I needed the 10-year old to tell me what they were. And remember this message was triggered by a search.

That search was for a book.

Its title?

Catholic Discordance: Neoconservatism vs. the Field Hospital Church of Pope Francis.

AI indeed.


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