Credit by John Hall
The emergence of AI technology is the result of evolved human thinking. And, in some ways, it’s become one of the biggest technology game changers of this generation. However, without being very cautious and aware of the dangers—and significance—of combining human interaction with artificial intelligence, we could head down the wrong path.
Personally, a substantial barrier I’ve faced in my life is properly managing my time. At first, I was obsessed with learning the ins and outs of Google Calendar. As brilliant as Google is, the brand has to keep things relatively simple: Everybody who uses a Google product expects, and needs, to be completely comfortable with it. There can’t be a steep learning curve.
When we were building Calendar, one of our goals was to help people become more thoughtful. To do that, the app has to use AI to collect existing data to create reminders of important events, moments, or tasks. This can significantly help enhance the relationships between the user and the important people in his life.
At the same time, AI won’t automatically know the difference between meaningful and meaningless details people share with the user. You might have had a conversation with someone who mentioned a big event coming up, but you still have to manually input that information. In a less obvious scenario, someone could have just earned a promotion or lost a loved one. The typical calendar application isn’t going to create a reminder to send a congratulatory note or condolences in these unexpected circumstances.
AI to Scale
If we relied solely on AI, we’d miss out on chances to build and maintain meaningful connections. However, without AI, it would be difficult to scale and optimize relationships—there’s a reason we have a standard social circle of 150 people.
This example is both a key and a hint as to how marketers should approach AI in different ways. AI needs to be used as a catalyst to connect us with more people on a human level, scaling personalization or helping us identify ways to interact with others that we may not have previously seen.
In marketing, it’s vital to gain trust and engage people, so they want to buy from and advocate for you. Therefore, scaling through AI can be an asset. But when there’s a chance to add a human connection, we have to leap at the opportunity.
Creating a Balance Between AI and Humans
How can you balance AI technology with human interaction? Here are just three ways to achieve that goal.
Create a mix of technology and humanity.
We’re already experiencing this transformation in our daily lives — if you have a question about a return policy or the weather, you interact with AI technology to get this information easily and quickly. But what if your question is more specific or requires smarter suggestions? AI can only go so far.
We still strive for human interaction. After all, we’re social creatures. AI can’t connect with us emotionally. And, as amazing as the technology is, AI doesn’t have all the answers. For example, let’s say you received a package with a damaged product. A chatbot may be able to provide the basics regarding the company’s return policy. Understandably frustrated, you want to interact with an actual person who can empathize with you and correct the situation. A more “human” AI shares your information with the customer service rep, so you don’t have to repeat yourself.
We’ll continue to see this evolve. You can record your meetings, enabling AI to use the information discussed to make smart suggestions for your next meeting. It may suggest when, where, and whom to schedule. AI could also help you develop an agenda and book the meeting. You, however, are still responsible for making sure the meeting is productive and isn’t a waste of time. AI and humans must work together in harmony, not simply focusing on replacing roles and responsibilities.
Important decisions still require a human touch.
Self-driving cars are a great example of humans still needing to, well, take the wheel. Each vehicle still has a driver just in case the machine has reached its limits or gets confused. Similarly, if you’ve ever called a call center, you’ve likely had your question transferred to a human operator because the machine couldn’t understand you.
With your calendar, AI technology may notice that you work on a specific task at an exact time on certain days. As a result, it will automatically generate a recurring block for you, making you unavailable and issuing a reminder. But what if an emergency pulled you away from that task, and everything else on your calendar had to get pushed back? The intelligent calendar doesn’t know that, proceeding as normal. You’re going to have to manually update your calendar, so conflicts don’t arise throughout the rest of the day.
Chatbots, for example, can help guide us in making financial decisions or planning our schedules. But would you trust a machine to plan your retirement or automatically fill in your entire year? Of course not.
AI technology should be an asset that helps us make smarter, more informed decisions. In the end, it can’t have the final say — the tech simply isn’t trained to handle new situations. For important decisions, a human touch is still needed.
Trust in the power of intuition.
I recently watched a movie called “Upgrade.” In a key scene, the lead realized the automated car was taking a different route home. His gut immediately told him something was wrong. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say his gut was picking up on clues his mind might have ignored.
As useful as AI technology is and will continue to be, it can’t replace our inner voice. Whether it’s knowing you’re in a dangerous situation or sensing someone isn’t trustworthy, there’s no amount of technology that can replace our gut instincts. Why have your calendar set up a meeting with someone you believe isn’t legit? AI can be used to make suggestions and enhance our lives, but it’s ultimately on us to use our past experiences to respond to certain situations.
We’ve learned, as we continue to develop our product, that we need guidelines that permit a human connection at any moment. People want that human-to-human connection, and the more you exclusively use AI, the more that’s taken away. AI technology has its limits, and that’s where the human touch has to take over.