For those not interested in the lowest scoring Super Bowl of all time, the most excitement probably came during the commercial breaks. And during the most expensive ad time on TV one theme came through loud and clear: robots.
As Forbes summarized:
The Robots/Devices vs. Humans Battle: A few ads played up the robot/machine versus humans theme. Michelob Ultra’s “Robots” highlights that “it’s only worth it if you can enjoy it” and Pringles “Sad Device” indicates that it will never know the joy of tasting Pringles. Simplisafe’s “Fear is Everywhere” visualizes one man telling another than in 5 years, “all of our jobs will be replaced by robots” and in TurboTax, a robotic child is told that he will never have emotion. The ads are picking up on fear that robots and machines may displace humans and in the case of Michelob Ultra and Pringles, highlighting one area that makes humans superiors to machines–the joy of drinking beer and eating potato chips.
AdWeek was more blunt, with the headline “What’s the Deal With All the Robots in This Year’s Super Bowl Ads?
Fear and loathing of AI answered with a bit of reassurance”
At the moment my fear is not AI. My fear is what happens when fears of AI are exaggerated and stoked. There are certainly reasons to be wary of AI, but the answer is to run toward AI and control its direction, not run away from it .
If young people are turned off of perusing AI in their studies and careers – whether directly as AI creators or indirectly to help organizations tend to the data that feeds machine learning – we will fall behind. And if political candidates and legislators decide that a “tough on AI” mindset wins them attention and votes we could see legislation that unnecessarily hinders AI progress. I explored some of these concepts in my story AI: A Short Fiction Scenario, which was a fictionalized version of the Gartner research note “Future of Work Scenarios 2035: ‘Bots Go Bad’” that I wrote with Helen Poitevin.
I won’t get too philosophical in a Super Bowl blog post. I’m still recovering from Nacho Overload myself, so maybe it’s just the artificial cheese-flavored powder talking here, but it just seemed like a proof point that the zeitgeist is currently stuck in a paradox regarding AI. AI is at once scary and taking over the world, but also can’t ever be as good as humans. It certainly can’t enjoy drinking beer.
The biggest advertising minds in the world don’t seem to be able to resolve that paradox. I guess it’s up to us in the technology industry to get back to our offices on Monday morning and make AI work instead.
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