Johnson’s World: Getting to Know Artificial Intelligence
Depending on who you ask, AI means either the beginning of the end of humankind’s world domination, the elimination of all our jobs… or the debut of a truly amazing and useful tool with almost limitless possibilities. Steve Johnson looks at what all three could actually be like.
At a conference of print sales managers, sometime in the early 1990s, we were given an overview of a new technological phenomenon called the “World Wide Web.” I was probably the smallest guy in the room.
When the session ended, the presenter asked his audience what they thought of it.
“It’s like drinking from a firehose,” answered one attendee, sounding more like a deer in the headlights than a seasoned management professional.
Three decades later, we feel the same way about artificial intelligence, or AI for short.
Ah, but there is a difference. We now use computers every day, in fact, every minute. We call them phones, but in reality what we all carry are microprocessors. We feel lost without them.
But it is more than that. Our cars, homes, and printing machines are all driven by computer chips. Artificial intelligence already exists, and it is very advanced. You’ve been searching for information on Google for decades. Why doesn’t your computer use the same hose of information to synthesize content the way an artist, author, or reporter does?
Depending on who you ask, AI means either the beginning of the end of humankind’s world domination, the elimination of all our jobs… or the debut of a truly amazing and useful tool with almost limitless possibilities.
In fact, it may be all three, but let’s look at the latter scenario.
Matt Theriault is the owner of Footprints Floors, a growing franchise in the bustling Peachtree City area in the south suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Matt stays busy following up on leads, estimating and ensuring customer satisfaction, but he knows the importance of marketing to customer satisfaction. Keep the lead pipeline full.
There are only a few hours in the day, so Matt outsources his social media marketing efforts.
“I recently switched to a new company that uses AI to generate posts. The cost is about a tenth of what my previous vendor cost, but the results are great. The quality of the content isn’t perfect, or even completely consistent,” Matt admits, “but it’s good enough to get the job done.”
The annoyance of an occasional post that is not worded as poetically as possible can be easily overcome by the results obtained by consistently posting content every day, day after day, day after day.
Judge for yourself by checking out @FootprintsFloorsPeachtreeCity on Facebook or Instagram. In my humble opinion, AI-generated posts are of at least equal quality to average human-generated business posts.
Is this “cheating”? of course not. It may be a doctoral thesis or a college admissions essay (that’s a different discussion for another day) but that’s work.
Footprints Floors has a story to tell, and they’re using AI to tell it. Consumers who need hardwood, vinyl, or tile flooring don’t care if the content is written by the owner, an ad agency, or is artificial. They have a need, they want answers, and AI ensures they will know where to go to get what they need.
Philosophers worry that artificial intelligence has the potential to take over the world, and that it will be a brutal overlord. maybe. Until that day, it seemed like he would be a very useful servant.