Almost Timely News: The Impact of AI on Tomorrow (2023-08-20) :: View in Browser

Almost Timely News

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What’s On My Mind: The Impact of AI on Tomorrow

There are 8 billion people on this planet, and every one of us has hopes, dreams, aspirations, and needs. We all have ideas; some of us are trying to figure out how to survive the next day. Others are trying to figure out how to build an empire. But we’re all the same in that we want tomorrow to be better than today. Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out recently that ”tomorrow” has largely fallen out of our lexicon, at least in the USA where I’m based. We used to think about tomorrow, dream about tomorrow. The city of tomorrow, the car of tomorrow, the home of tomorrow, and we’ve lost touch with that. We’ve lost touch with our dreams and hopes. We’ve lost sight of tomorrow.

To think about tomorrow requires us to plan today, and maybe even to sacrifice some today so that tomorrow has the resources it needs to be brought to life. But because we’ve forgotten about tomorrow, we fail to plan for it, and tomorrow looks just like today, only a little worse, a little poorer.

Tomorrow used to just be another day when our dreams would stay in our heads, when we would be unable to bring them to life because we lacked the time, the resources, the skills to manifest our dreams into reality. We grew so disenchanted with tomorrow because it was a perpetual source of frustration – tomorrow would be no better than today because we weren’t getting more skilled fast enough.

And this is where my fervent hope is that we use AI to its fullest. We may have forgotten how to dream about tomorrow, but our machines have not. Our machines can still think that broadly because they contain our language, our capabilities, our dreams and hopes, with one additional twist: they contain our skills as well, in ever-increasing quality. In the short term, that will be bad for some folks. That will have a negative impact on a lot of creative jobs in the short term. In the long term, it will have a positive effect if we allow it, if we plan for it, if we dream it.

Here’s why.

Have you ever had an idea in your head that you wanted to bring to life, but you lacked the skills to do so?

Maybe there was a fragment of a melody – but you’re not a musician.

Maybe there’s a story – but you’re not a writer.

Maybe there’s a scene from a TV show in your head – but you’re not a videographer.

Maybe there’s a blazing sky worthy of a canvas – but you’re not a painter.

In the days before generative AI, those ideas would remain in our heads. For a select few who are highly motivated and well-resourced, they could invest the time and money to learn the skills necessary to overcome that barrier between idea and reality, but for the vast majority of us, those ideas simply stay in our heads.

And the world is poorer for it.

But that’s changing.

Today, you can use AI to write music, even if you can’t play a single instrument. It may not be as good yet as a professional musician, but it’s much better than what you could do with no skills at all.

Today, you can create images from your mind with your words alone, prompts that generate fantastical images, views of worlds that have never existed, or memories that encompass the best of what you remember.

Today, you can start to create video, tell very short stories in motion pictures.

Today, you can write the outlines to stories and have machines draft the actual copy, the prose that fleshes out the skeleton of your idea.

And no matter how mediocre these AI-driven skills are today, tomorrow they will be better. And the day after that, better still. AI is maturing faster than any human could, and as long as you have the skills to operate AI (mainly through prompt engineering), your access to these skills is maturing at the same rate as the machines.

Which means tomorrow, your ideas and dreams can exist in the world instead of being permanently locked up in your head. If we overcome our disillusionment of tomorrow, with the help of AI, tomorrow can fulfill the promise it’s always had – a better world, a better life.

Think about it for a moment. What would the world be like if your ideas could be brought to life? If the art that lives inside you could be enjoyed by others in the way you envisioned it? How would that change the lives of the people around you? How would that change your life, if you knew what was within your heart and mind could be accurately expressed?

Think about what that will mean for everyone who wants to create, everyone who has a story to tell. Today, we live in a marketplace where only the most popular ideas ever really get funding, at least in entertainment. A film that doesn’t stand a chance of being a blockbuster has to bootstrap as an indie production, and quality suffers.

What if it didn’t have to? What if, with the power of AI, you could produce a film with the same Hollywood blockbuster quality but at a fraction of the cost and time? How would that change the variety of media available, if our storytellers and idea creators were not constrained by budgets, just imagination?

A film with a black queer female superhero probably wouldn’t get funded in today’s entertainment industry (witness the fate of the CW series Batwoman, which was unceremoniously canceled after its third season despite generally good reviews). Today’s studios are looking for billion-dollar paydays, and stories about marginalized audiences tend not to perform to those expectations at the box office. If the formula for ROI – (earned – spent)/(spent) – was substantially lower on the spent side, then even selling a thousand tickets to a movie could be positive ROI for an independent filmmaker wanting to tell a specific story to a specific audience.

More practically for many of us who are marketers, working with data, what was an hours-long task in the past can today be reduced to minutes or less. Tools like Anthropic’s Claude, Google Bard, or ChatGPT can help us write the code we need to automate complicated tasks, from digesting PowerPoint presentations to analyzing spreadsheets in ways that are repeatable and scalable. You may not be a programmer or have programming skills, but you have a programmer on hand now. We all do – generative AI. We can bring our ideas to life through these tools, be they art or productivity.

So here’s a homework assignment for you. Take some kind of short story you’d like to tell – maybe it’s from a favorite show, book, or entertainment franchise, maybe it’s from your past, maybe it’s just something that’s been bouncing around in your head, and with the help of the generative AI system of your choice, write it. Aim for something small, a one-shot story around 1,000 words which is well within the capability of any system, but give it a try. You don’t have to publish it anywhere or even acknowledge that you did it, but give it a try so that you can have the experience of expressing an idea with the help of the machines.

There will of course be downsides to all this use of generative AI. There will be massive, unforeseen changes in every walk of life. It will not and cannot be all sunshine and roses. But there are billions of people with trillions of stories and ideas waiting to be brought to life, and if we do things well, the fabric of our civilization and the narratives of our peoples will be richer for it.

Start dreaming about tomorrow, because AI is giving you what you need to build the tomorrow you want, today.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the newly-refreshed Google Analytics 4 course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I recommend the piece on using generative AI for competitive analysis. New uses for large language models keep popping up daily, and this is one episode with some very practical tips.

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These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.

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I’ve been lecturing a lot on large language models and generative AI (think ChatGPT) lately, and inevitably, there’s far more material than time permits at a regular conference keynote. There’s a lot more value to be unlocked – and that value can be unlocked by bringing me in to speak at your company. In a customized version of my AI keynote talk, delivered either in-person or virtually, we’ll cover all the high points of the talk, but specific to your industry, and critically, offer a ton of time to answer your specific questions that you might not feel comfortable asking in a public forum.

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Get Back to Work

Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.

What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

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If you’re familiar with the Cameo system – where people hire well-known folks for short video clips – then you’ll totally get Thinkers One. Created by my friend Mitch Joel, Thinkers One lets you connect with the biggest thinkers for short videos on topics you care about. I’ve got a whole slew of Thinkers One Cameo-style topics for video clips you can use at internal company meetings, events, or even just for yourself. Want me to tell your boss that you need to be paying attention to generative AI right now?

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

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How to Stay in Touch

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Events I’ll Be At

Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:

  • ISBM, Chicago, September 2023
  • Content Marketing World, DC, September 2023
  • Marketing Analytics and Data Science, DC, September 2023
  • Content Jam, Chicago, October 2023
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Boston, October 2023
  • Social Media Marketing World, San Diego, February 2024

Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.

If you’re an event organizer, let me help your event shine. Visit my speaking page for more details.

Can’t be at an event? Stop by my private Slack group instead, Analytics for Marketers.

Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn


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