Trust: Are we on the verge of losing it?

Google just announced a remarkable achievement – an AI assistant that can make phone calls on your behalf to live humans. For example, it called a salon to make an appointment. You can listen to the calls here.

The engineers who designed the system taught the assistant to use human-like cadences such as um, mm, hmmm to make the computer voices sound remarkably human. Even knowing it was a machine on one end of the discussion, I had to listen carefully to figure out which party was the computer.

The AI marketer in me is both excited and worried.

The ability to mimic human interaction is an incredible milestone in machine intelligence, but the lack of transparency is something we should fear.

In a digital world easily manipulated, just because we have the ability to pretend to be human doesn’t mean we should. We are on the threshold of remarkably swift change and the burden not to sacrifice trust for saving time must wear heavily on the companies bringing about the future.

I applaud Google for following the announcement with a clear statement that their assistant will disclose it is a machine, not human, on the line. I hope they, and other leaders, continue to stay on the side of transparency. And so must each of us in our use of these remarkable achievements.

Trust is the foundation for all relationships, including the one between a brand and it’s customers.  We must ensure that trust is bi-directional both to and from the end consumer.