Samantha Temple Neukom
Chief Brand Officer

Creating meaning in the age of AI

 

We are working a lot right now with companies who are in field of AI, and in the throes of figuring out how to talk about it in a commercially viable way that doesn’t scare the rest of humanity. With any technology trend, AI has started as a buzz word that has much mystique but not as much understanding when it comes to how it specifically can be of value to everyday humans. Yet, only humankind has ever held the charge of creating meaning out of life. How do we parse intelligence – artificial or not – from our own humanity? As the role of AI expands in companies, what role can people still command?

Yuval Harari in his book Sapiens postulated a theory that the reason homo sapiens have come to dominate not only our own species but the entire planet of flora and fauna is because we’re the only species able to inspire collaboration among one another in groups of more than 150 people. We are a meaning-making species – our minds are the original meaning-making machines and the algorithms that govern the continuation of our species the original data-driven intelligence. And, meaning is what creates cooperation at an indomitable (or in the case of brands, highly profitable) scale. This is particularly comforting to those of us who are corporate storytellers.

Harari’s second book, Homo Deus, explains AI as the product of decoupling intelligence from consciousness. Which begs the question, if intelligence and consciousness are decoupling, will human value be realigned to consciousness? As AI is able to take on more and more – and fool even the most discerning of us – will the value of intelligence decline, and the value of consciousness increase?

Here, I’m defining consciousness as a keen awareness of self and others. That awareness is necessary for meaning-making to happen. Who am I? What do I stand for? What do others stand for? How, then, do I belong?

Next generations already see “purpose” as a requirement for brands today. Will this draw toward purpose and the subsequent demand for integrity through actions and words, inspire more humans to create meaning for each other, within their companies, and for their brands?

 

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