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Commentary & Analysis
Depending upon who you ask, AI means either the beginning of the end for the human race’s domination of the world, or the elimination of all our jobs…or the debut of a really amazing and useful tool with almost limitless possibilities. Steve Johnson looks at how, in fact, it might be all three.
At a conference of printing sales managers way back in, oh, sometime in the early 1990s, we were treated to an overview of a new technological phenomenon called “the World Wide Web.” I might have been the youngest guy in the room.
When the session was complete, the presenter asked his audience what they thought of it.
“It’s like drinking from a firehose,” replied one of the attendees, looking more like a deer in the headlights than an experienced management professional.
Fast forward three decades, and here we are, feeling the same way about artificial intelligence, or AI for short.
Ah, but there is a difference. We now all use computers every day—in fact, every minute. We call them phones, but in reality what we all carry around are microprocessors. We feel lost without them.
It is even more than that. Our autos, our homes, our printing machinery are all driven by computer chips. Artificial intelligence is already here, and it is pretty advanced. You’ve been “googling” information for decades. Why shouldn’t your computer use this same firehose of information to assemble content the way an artist, an author, or a reporter does?
Depending upon who you ask, AI means either the beginning of the end for the human race’s domination of the world, or the elimination of all our jobs…or the debut of a really amazing and useful tool with almost limitless possibilities.
In fact, it might be all three, but let’s take a look at the latter scenario.
Matt Therriault is the owner of Footprints Floors, a growing franchise business in the bustling Peachtree City area of south suburban Atlanta, Ga. Matt keeps busy following up on sales leads, estimating, and assuring customer satisfaction, but he knows the importance of marketing to keep the lead pipeline full.
There are only so many hours in a day, so Matt has outsourced his social media marketing efforts.
“Recently I switched to a new company that uses artificial intelligence to generate posts. The cost is about a tenth of my previous vendor, but the results are great.” Matt admits that the quality of content isn’t perfect, or even perfectly consistent, “but it is good enough to get the job done.”
The annoyance of an occasional post that isn’t worded as poetically as it could be is easily overcome by the results obtained by consistently posting content each day, day after day, day in and day out.
Judge for yourself by checking out @FootprintsFloorsPeachtreeCity on Facebook or Instagram. In my humble opinion, the AI-generated posts are of a quality that is at least equal to the average human-generated business posting.
Is this “cheating”? Of course not. It might be on a doctoral thesis or a college admission essay (that is a different discussion for another day) but this is business.
Footprints Floors has a story to tell, and they are using AI to tell it. Consumers in need of hardwood, vinyl, or tile floors don’t give a hoot if content is written by the owner, an ad agency, or artificially. They have a need, they want answers, and AI assures that they will know where to go to get what they need.
Philosophers worry that AI has the capability to take over the world, and that it will be a brutal master. Perhaps. Until that day, it appears that it will be a most useful servant.
About Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson is a successful print owner and digital pioneer. Each month in Johnson’s World, he offers up his take on the day-to-day world of graphic communications.
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