The Reality of the Robots: Oh, The Humanity

27

JUNE 2019

By: Brad Richards

“To protect Humanity, some humans must be sacrificed. To ensure your freedom, some freedoms must be surrendered. We robots will ensure mankind’s continued existence. You are so like children. We must save you from yourselves.”

That chilling line from “I, Robot (2004)” is a great way to build suspense, even if the movie only received a splat 56% on Rotten Tomatoes.

However, the audience score is a little more revealing – 70%. Does it suggest that in addition to enjoying a story about a world where machines take over because they “know better”, perhaps it reveals a tiny bit of worry that maybe this world is not complete fantasy?

Maybe.

Robots, in the form of AI, got Stephen Hawking’s attention.

 

Speaking at a technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Hawking told attendees,”…AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy,” he said. (Newsweek, 11/7/17)

 

And yet, here we are in 2019, extolling the virtues of AI and its value in improving customer experience and sentiment.

Why the diverging interpretations?

Hawking’s worry was the single-mindedness and administrative lethality of eliminating all human input. Autonomous weapons systems that engage and act at certain threat levels. Autonomous cars, for that matter, that take a dangerous route if told, “get me to the airport as fast as possible.” Financial systems that minimize individual investor, firm or even country risk to the determinant of the system.

“We want to believe,” as Fox Mulder once said, but given scenarios like flash crashes or driverless car crashes, it’s hard to not wonder.

Contrast that with the Genesys philosophy, “Moments Connected.”

In those two words, we hear hope. Technology, even AI-dominated, or bots, or a mix, designed not to replace the consumer and provider relationship, but to shape it. Better listening, better reaction, and as needed, well-matched agent to client interactions for the prime purpose of at least preserving a relationship, if not improving it.

Genesys has achieved technological excellence without crossing the line – and in fact, provide us a path, a revised but simple “prime directive”: technology in service to human-defined and approved (and positive) outcomes.

CustomerView brings the same power to extracting insights from all customer conversations regardless of source. It is means to an end, creating an essential feedback loop to technologies and services that rely on detail interaction data and insights.

More importantly, it extracts insights, reporting on and offers predictive information about customer conversations – everything from compliance monitoring to quality to context to outcomes. We are both an integral partner and a stand-alone comprehensive (and NLP and AI-powered) analytics tool.

There is no question that AI and Machine Learning are powerful tools, but with our active intent, they remain tools. They are not customers or providers; they are in their service.

It appears that many companies deeply understand this, particularly those like Genesys and CustomerView, whose underlying philosophy is improving the connections between people. Futurists and thought-leaders like Stephen Hawking are right to constantly remind us to challenge our assumptions and intent; that process helps to ensure we stay clear of the dark side.

If you will excuse me, I have just been offered a ride from Major Kong on this new automated contraption. Dr. Strangelove approved, guaranteed to thrill. The guy sitting behind me keeps screeching and pointing his finger at me. What could go wrong?

 

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