You’ve likely spoken with some form of artificial intelligence before, and chances are it’s been through your phone. These programs come with cute names like Siri or Bixby, but choppy language and misunderstandings expose the fact that these programs are simply that…programs. But AI keeps getting better and better, and with its newest iteration, Google Duplex, the lines between human and program are beginning to blur.
This May, Google debuted Duplex at Google I/O, its annual developer conference. The presentation began with Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai asking Duplex to schedule a hair appointment. Duplex dials the number and a woman’s voice answers and asks how she can help, Duplex responds:
“Hi, I’m calling to book a woman’s hair cut appointment for a client, um, I’m looking for something on May 3?”
The woman at the hair salon asks to hold for one second, to which Duplex replies:
Duplex then goes on to have a conversation with the woman at the hair salon to schedule an appointment and then hangs up. The phone call was impressive, but most notably, the woman never realized she was speaking to a computer program. The naturalness and ease of Duplex is years ahead of what’s currently offered on your phone.
In conjunction with the presentation, Google released a white paper detailing how Duplex works. In it there are multiple examples of Duplex booking appointments and reservations while handling obstacles like interruptions and accents.
The prevalence of AI will continue to grow as the use of “smart” devices has increased dramatically. Voicebot.ai, a publication dedicated to voice assistant technologies, reports over 20% of US adults own “smart” speakers than can house AI programs. Additionally, the Pew Research Center reports 77% of Americans own smartphones, many of which house AI programs such as Microsoft’s Cortana or Apple’s Siri.
As AI becomes increasingly common, programs like Duplex are poised to fuel economic growth in a way that drastically changes the nature of our workplaces. Receptionists and assistants aren’t the only jobs that will be impacted by advances in AI, nearly every industry will be transformed.
By 2035 AI could double economic growth rates according to a report on the future of AI from the consulting firm Accenture. AI is projected to increase labor productivity up to 40 percent, which will free up people to use their time for high-value tasks and increase operational efficiencies.
While the upside for AI to propel change and growth is huge, many fear it will bring increased unemployment and further technological detachment. Regardless of these fears, demand for AI products continues to grow and will certainly shape our future, whether we realize it or not.
It’s a busy world we live in today. There are a lot of good things happening nowadays―leap and bounds in technology and medical innovation, the potential for autonomous vehicles and automated everything, longer lives lived, and ever-present connectivity, just to name a few. At the same time, a lot of problems are ever-present―the increasing wealth gap, the spiraling use of deadly weapons, the re-emergence of despotic rule across the globe, and the overall ecological demise of our planet. As the saying goes, “it’s a crazy mixed-up world we live in.”
Which leads me to ask myself: How is my quality of life? Typically, I have been a “glass half-empty” kind of guy―blame it on my being both a Capricorn’s Capricorn as well as an only child; I’m always willing to account for the downside of a situation. Yet, I do lead a really good life, and I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I guess you could call me “cautiously optimistic.”
Given this, I think there’s always room for improvement, even for a lucky one like me. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for ways to assess, then improve my lot in life. For a while I would attend TED-type conferences but eventually found them a bit too ‘lofty’ and self-aggrandizing; on the flip-side, I’d trek to Burning Man, but found the hedonism and general silliness outweighed the sheer force of the event, and soon the buzz wore off.
This year I found something that looks a bit different, a conference that contains a set of speakers who seem quite grounded in the realities of addressing quality of life in today’s world. No silver bullets or bombastic kernels of wisdom, but rather the tact of taking a particular city that treats its citizens well, in this case Zurich, Switzerland, and use it as a case study in context to demonstrate how aspects of daily life in Zurich, and beyond, are addressed and supported by its citizenry.
Hosted by Monocle magazine, the Quality of Life conference will be held this June 28-30 and is scheduled to address a diverse, yet interrelated, array of topics key to quality of life, including architecture, entrepreneurship, work, mobility, safety and security, health, aging, food, retail, and art and design. All of these Zurich does quite well, and the hope is that attendees see such demonstrations on the streets of Zurich, hear related stories from speakers at the conference podium, and discuss among themselves how such things can be brought back home.
Quality of life is a broad subject to tackle. Overall, I feel they’ve laid out a good breadth of perspectives to address the subject (though the absence of spirituality and/or self-discovery is sorely missed―but then again, I’m an American where nowadays such topics are de rigueur regarding quality of life issues).
Being ‘cautiously optimistic’ I also have a few doubts about the locale, given the Swiss legacy of secrecy, as well as the Anglo-monolithic demographic composition of the place. Yet, from a global perspective, Zurich has a lot of things to envy―the Swiss have a zeal to get things precisely ‘right’ and Zurich is their crown jewel.
Monocle has proven experience in hosting such conferences, albeit strictly from a pan-European lens (e.g., Lisbon, Vienna, and Berlin), though attendees are from further afield. One can hope those lucky enough to attend bring something home to their own little corners of the globe, making things a bit better for us all.
The facts, trends, and numbers are evident. The subscription industry is growing day by day. Whether you’re looking for ways to discover new organic snacks, or spoil your pet, or get a clean shave, subscription boxes are disrupting nearly every consumer product category and are a major contributor to shifting the e-commerce landscape.
- The subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100% percent a year over the past five years, with the largest retailers generating more than $2.6B in sales in 2016, up from $57.0M in 2011.
- E-commerce subscribers are most likely to be 25 to 44 years old, to have incomes from $50,000 to $100,000, and live in urban environments in the Northeastern U.S.
- 15% of online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscriptions to receive products on a recurring basis, frequently through monthly boxes.
- Amazon Subscribe & Save, Dollar Shave Club, Ipsy, Blue Apron and Birchbox are the five most popular subscription sites in 2018.
These and many other insights are from an in-depth survey McKinsey & Company completed to better understand the dynamics of the subscription e-commerce market and its major trends. The results of the survey, Thinking inside the subscription box: New research on e-commerce consumers is a fascinating glimpse into the current state of the subscription economy.
The latest industry to take hold of this curious trend, the automotive community. Traditionally, options for vehicle ownership were either lease or own. But in a growing number of metropolitan markets there is a third option emerging: car subscriptions.
Marketing and positioning of these car subscription options from brands such as Ford, Porsche, Cadillac, and now Volvo appear to be targeting urban living tech-savvy Millennials who are non-committal towards car ownership, live and enjoy a subscription model lifestyle (Netflix, Blue Apron, Dollar Shave Club) and are willing to pay for the trade-offs of flexibility and options.
For example, the Porsche Passport lets you choose among eight car models (including the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman S) for $2,000 per month or choose from 22 different Porsche models for a $3,000 subscription. With Porsche Passport, you can switch cars as often as you choose. Cadillac’s subscription service, which comes in at $1,800 per month, lets you swap between cars as often as 18 times per year.
It is still too early to determine adoption of this latest subscription fad. Auto makers have a major hurdle regarding availability as they look to move beyond the main metro markets. It will be one of many trends in the automotive industry to keep an eye on in 2018 and beyond.
Now is the best time to take a real close look at your customers. What are their lives like, who are in their circles, what can you learn from their environment? There is no better way to discover and capture nuances than with video ethnography. It can be like bringing your entire operation into the home to learn about the wants, needs, and drivers of an array of people. The result being impactful insights straight from the source, your customers with the added benefit of being about to relive their interviews and broadcast a highlight reel through out your organization.
In addition to the raw video, craft videos can be edited for easily digestible run times. Couple these reels with top notch motion graphics and enhanced audio and you have a presentation that is informative, entertaining and memorable.
ADVANTAGES OF VIDEO ETHNOGRAPHY
Video Ethnography is a powerful complement to written analysis. Written content attempts to represent a thought or event with authenticity but is limited by the author’s subjectivity, consciously or not. Video also functions to highlight affect, leveraging the portrayal of emotions to accentuate ideas.
WHY USE VIDEO ETHNOGRAPHY?
Society has prepared us for consuming messages quickly and receiving information more passively, in ever-more dynamic and compelling formats. It’s just a fact that people gravitate toward moving imagery.
A few years back, we featured The Mindset List for the Class of 2015 and thought it would be fun to revisit that list and see what treasures The Mindset List for the Class of 2021 hold.
For those of you with children entering into college this list might not be much of a surprise. But, for those of us that don’t, and think we are still “in-the-know” with the younger generation, it becomes clear very quickly why the list is unofficially named the Make Me Feel Old List…
The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2021
- They are the last class to be born in the 1900s, the last of the Millennials — enter next year, on cue, Generation Z!
- eHarmony has always offered an algorithm for happiness.
- They have largely grown up in a floppy-less world.
- There have always been emojis to cheer us up.
- It is doubtful that they have ever used or heard the high-pitched whine of a dial-up modem.
- They were never able to use a Montgomery Ward catalogue as a booster seat.
- Donald Trump has always been a political figure, as a Democrat, an Independent, and a Republican.
- Amazon has always invited consumers to follow the arrow from A to Z.
- In their lifetimes, Blackberry has gone from being a wild fruit to a communications device to a wild fruit again.
- They have always been searching for Pokemon.
- Dora the Explorer and her pet monkey Boots helped to set them on the course of discovery.
- By the time they entered school, laptops were outselling desktops.
- Whatever the subject, there’s always been a blog for it.
- A movie scene longer than two minutes has always seemed like an eternity.
- Ketchup has always come in green.
- They have only seen a Checker Cab in a museum.
- Men have always shared a romantic smooch on television.
- As toddlers, they may have taught their grandparents how to Skype.
- There has always been a Monster in their corner when looking for a job.
- Wikipedia has steadily gained acceptance by their teachers.
- Justin Timberlake has always been a solo act.
- Barbie and American Girl have always been sisters at Mattel.
- Family Guy is the successor to the Father Knows Best they never knew.
- Bill Clinton has always been Hillary Clinton’s aging husband.
- They are the first generation for whom a “phone” has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph, and research library.
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Check out the entire list here.