”Her name is Anna, Anna is her name”. This is the lyrics from a summer hit produced by Basshunter, me and my classmates sang in 2006, as we said goodbye to high school and stepped into our future. Little did we know that ten years later this could actually be a reality.
The Swedish bank SEB recently introduced the world to their new co-worker and digital employee, Amelia. She has actually been working on the bank’s internal IT support for a while and soon she will also be helping the public. When putting a face to artificial intelligent and robots it becomes crucial to not only make them look like humans but also make them act like humans, in order to make us emphasize with them and trust them. When we see a face we instinctively want to know who they are. I mean, who is Amelia? Is she a cat person or a dog person? What’s her story?
The recent popular HBO-series Westworld attends to this gap between human traits and robot functionalities by giving the androids fictional characters and story lines. Characters which humans can relate to and even fall in love with.
Okey a sideline to this subject, but a reflection I had when I watched Westworld was that it doesn’t matter if we are in an artificial world, in the world of Game of Thrones or our own reality: Sex and violence are always on the human agenda. The world will always change but the human brain never follows, or will it? As far as I know sex and violence is an age-old story that will stay no matter what.
Anyway back to the subject. Taking this market development to my world, the advertising world, it will become all of our jobs in the near future to create characters and storylines to our new digital friends. Whether it is a customer service bot, a receptionist android or other, they will all need a story to tell in order to be truly welcomed into the human world.
Of course, some warning bells rings when us humans start to emphasize with robots. But really, what’s the difference between robots and other fictional characters, or even products? I know you all have felt emptiness the last time you lost your smartphone or at the end of the last season of your favorite TV-show. Myself have shared deep emotions with Anna Karenina, Harry Potter, Ugly Betty and many more fictional characters and stories. It hasn’t hurt me at all, rather the opposite. Hopefully the next android I get to know will do the same.
Fun fact, it can actually be easier to feel empathy with a fictional character than our real family and friends, since we get to know them on a much deeper level and get extreme details about their lives (weaknesses, strengths). We can all thank the little lobe in our brains called supramarginal gyrus, the home of empathy, which is the place our fictional feelings take place.
So whats my point here? Sharpen your pens, and prepare yourself to a new area of a super fun communication creating bot characters. Just as content agencies rose from the ground a couple of years ago, we will probably see the creative android/robot agency pop up soon.
I got inspired to write this blog post from a future trend event hosted by Aller media at Allerdagarna 2016.