Consumer-empowering AI can benefit everybody

Published November 6, 2018

Data equals power

Big Data has had a bad rap from the perspective of consumers, consolidated by data manipulation events like the Cambridge Analytica Brexit intervention and US election meddling. From a consumer’s point of view Big Data has developed a persona not dissimilar to Big Brother. Add AI into the mix and a dystopian picture starts to emerge with all-knowing robots on the horizon coming to steal all our jobs and probably ultimately chuck us off the planet.

But, obviously, that’s all nonsense. Or at least there’s a way to go before then. In the meantime serious people are starting to argue for a focus on consumer-empowering AI and the use of Big Data to benefit rather than manipulate individuals. In the current climate there’s no need to be a tech genius to see that today’s balance of power tips solidly in favour of whoever has access to the most data and the ability to use it for their own purposes. For now that’s the Big Five (Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook) and their ilk. Everybody wants data and everybody wants the best AI to make sense of it for them — because that’s power today.

Power to the people

You remember how information wasn’t always available to everyone (caveats apply)? Those who had information had power. Then the internet came along and democratised (more caveats) information. Now it’s about data. If individuals have ownership of their own data and have access to AI capabilities that allows them to make sense of and leverage that data for their own use and protection — that shifts the power.

A recently published academic paper entitled Towards Consumer-Empowering Artificial Intelligence argues that, “applied AI does not have to remain in the hands of big businesses and corporations alone, but it can (and should) be brought to individual consumers, their organisations (civil society), as well as consumer agencies (public authorities), created to represent and defend consumer interests.” The seven authors, mainly from Italian universities, go on to establish their vision wherein “consumer-empowering AI [acts] as a flywheel of change, by promoting awareness, and in a sense democratizing AI, while enabling bottom-up initiatives and incentivizing regulatory processes that would otherwise be hampered by an apparent imbalance between citizens, or even consumer organizations, and the big businesses holding data and technology.”

Building trust and responsibility into your brand remains the best bet for business longevity

Being as we are at the very beginnings of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) — casting a net into the sea of predictions for the future brings back as many hopeful, utopian catches as it does fear-filled terror monsters, but one thing is worth holding onto: building your business and brand with consumer empowerment in mind is a future-proofing tactic that benefits all. The blockchain-enabled next web should give access to the provenance of anything we buy or consume. Transparency and positive action in this regard will win the hearts of the Millennial generation in particular as they demand a lifestyle that includes work and consumption options that fall in line with their values.

As a marketing company specialising in organisations leveraging innovative tech, we aim to bring those businesses’ meaningful, human stories to the front and centre. Intelligent use of data with integrity forms a solid basis from which to build a brand and appeal to empowered consumers who are making decisions based on ever-more available data to inform their lifestyles.