Almost Timely News: What AI Has Made Scarce (2024-02-04) :: View in Browser
Content Authenticity Statement
100% of this week’s newsletter was generated by me, the human. When I do use AI, I will disclose it prominently. Learn why this kind of disclosure is now legally required for anyone doing business in any capacity with the EU.
Watch This Newsletter On YouTube 📺
What’s On My Mind: What AI Has Made Scarce
This week, let’s talk about generative AI, but obliquely. A lot of conversations occurred this week about the future of AI, from Congressional testimonials to the ratification of the EU AI Act, which is now the gold standard for regulating AI, planet-wide. All of that is important, but let’s take a step back to look at the bigger picture.
AI, and generative AI in particular, is really good at creating stuff at scale. We’ve talked in the past, and I cover extensively in our Generative AI for Marketers course, the six broad use case categories for generative AI: generation, extraction, summarization, rewriting, classification, and question answering. Today’s tools are very, very capable in all these categories.
The net effect, thus far, has been the creation of a LOT of stuff. You can’t scroll past a page or two on the social network of your choice without seeing AI-generated art or text – even if it’s robotic-sounding comments on your posts. You can’t escape news headlines about the use of AI in election tampering or in reducing headcount and layoffs.
That brings us to the subject of today: in a world where some things – like content – are abundant, what isn’t? What is scarce, rare, and therefore valuable?
Answering this question is the key to unlocking economic opportunity, to defending your employment, to building your brand. For good or ill, generative AI levels the playing field considerably. One of the shocking findings in the Harvard Business School case study on generative AI last year was that it transformed low-performing consultants into high-performing consultants in just a few hours. That means everyone has the ability, for tasks which generative AI does well, to be at least slightly above average.
We know content is abundant, perhaps overabundant. Information in general is abundant. Speed is abundant for many things – the ability to get something has never been easier or faster in human history. Last year, I managed to get a package from Amazon delivered into an active warzone in less than 6 weeks, which is absolutely nuts when you think about getting ANYTHING into a warzone.
Ideas, potential and actualized, are abundant and will be ever more abundant as generative AI gets better. Today, some generative AI tasks like music composition are pretty lame. That will not be the case going forwards.
So what’s not abundant?
Information is abundant, but correct information is not. Now more than ever, we have our choice of information in varying degrees of correctness, from outright lies to peer-reviewed truths. Our machines can create stories and information, but they aren’t inherently truthful. Take any even mildly controversial topic – like whether the planet is round or not – and you will find abundant (incorrect) information. Truthfulness, factual correctness – this is comparatively scarce. And when you get to a lightning rod topic like vaccines, for example, you will find false information in much greater abundance than truthful information. After all, lying about the safety of a vaccine requires no peer review process. (for the record, any vaccine authorized by both the USA Food and Drug Administration and the EU European Medicines Agency is safe and effective) This extends to things like software. Generative AI can crank out code, but is it correct code? A lot of the time, what generative AI cranks out is 98% correct – but software needs to be 100% correct to run, so while development is abundant, QA is scarce.
Useful information is also scarce. There’s no shortage of information, but there’s a shortage of useful, compact information. Go look at the length of some of the most popular podcasts and shows right now, and they can be jaw-droppingly long. Does the information conveyed require 2 hours, 3 hours, or more to correctly communicate the useful parts?
Well-understood information is scarce. Take generative AI. There’s no shortage of content about things like prompt engineering, but much of it is templated stuff and hacks made by the usual snake oil salesmen moving from trend to trend. These were the same folks hawking NFTs two years ago as the next big thing, and now they’re ChatGPT gurus. Compare that with folks like Dr. Fei Fei Li who has been working in AI and publishing peer-reviewed papers about it since 2008. Well-understood, well-researched information is scarce.
Time is scarce, made even more scarce by the abundance of information. It feels like we have less time than ever as we have more places to be, more work to do, more obligations to carry. Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion – and the inverse is true. With generative AI, we can do more work, faster – and so we get more work to do.
Right now, money is scarce, at a societal level and at a personal level for many. Big picture, our civilization as a whole just ran the printing presses and printed money like crazy in 2020 (which is a major driver of inflation). Since then, governments have slowly been clawing back that money, taking it out of circulation. As a result, money – mainly in the form of lending, borrowing, and investing – has become scarce. We see no shortage of layoffs and downsizing because the easy, cheap money has gone away. Combine that with record corporate profits after taxes thanks to price increases above and beyond inflation, and money is scarce for the individual person around the planet. For example, the Big Mac in countries like Argentina has more than doubled in price since 2019. In the USA where I am, it has increased 24% in price since 2019.
Actual connection to other human beings is alarmingly scarce. Again, you can’t go a day without another bit of news talking about the loneliness crisis – and it’s a real thing. The hyper-polarization of our information climate makes adversaries of everyone about everything, no matter what you believe in. As a result, our circles of friends dwindle, and we are relegated to talking about the weather and other safe topics instead of having meaningful conversations even about controversial topics.
Trust is scarce. Because of competing interests and an alarmist media environment where everything has to be amped up to 11 just to earn a few clicks, people don’t trust nearly as much as they used to. The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer highlights that we don’t trust… well, most anything.
So, what do we take away from this big picture look at what’s scarce? What do we do with this information? In whatever business or industry you’re in, how much of what you do is abundant, and how much of what you do is scarce? Many industries that are running into trouble fail to recognize these shifts in abundance and scarcity.
Take newspapers, for example. Newspapers struggle in part because their revenue models were undermined by the Internet, but also because they failed to recognize they are not the source of information any more. They COULD be the source of credible information that’s well-vetted, but many have had trouble making that pivot.
The same is true for education. Education isn’t about imparting information any more – education is no longer the gatekeeper of information. What it could be is the arbiter of quality, the certifier of quality knowledge and thinking processes inside someone’s head.
In your industry, what is scarce, and how do you provide what’s scarce? Is trust scarce in your industry? Is human connection? Correct information? Time? Money? There’s no shortage of scarcity for things people value right now, and generative AI – and all AI – will have quite a bit of difficulty filling those scarce needs right now. It may adapt and grow into more of these roles in the future, but today, it can’t provide those scarce resources.
I will make this concrete marketing recommendation as the takeaway: the single most important marketing strategy you can embrace right now is the building of a strong, trustworthy, human-led brand. As machines create ever more information and we have less and less time and cognitive bandwidth to process that information, you have an opportunity to be a filter, a screen against the noise, a truly trusted advisor to your audience, your community, and your customers. Comedian Ze Frank used to end his video shows with his trademark phrase, “Thinking… so you don’t have to.” While tongue in cheek a couple decades ago, that is now a powerful brand promise you could offer your audience. Do the hard work for them, and they’ll give you value in exchange.
How Was This Issue?
Rate this week’s newsletter issue with a single click. Your feedback over time helps me figure out what content to create for you.
Share With a Friend or Colleague
If you enjoy this newsletter and want to share it with a friend/colleague, please do. Send this URL to your friend/colleague:
For enrolled subscribers on Substack, there are referral rewards if you refer 100, 200, or 300 other readers. Visit the Leaderboard here.
ICYMI: In Case You Missed it
Besides the new Generative AI for Marketers course I’m relentlessly flogging, I recommend the fun, entertaining fireside chat I did with Geraldine Deruiter.
- Fireside Chat: Geraldine Deruiter on Food, Feminism, and Fury
- You Ask, I Answer: Retrieval Augmented Generation for Tax Law?
- Mind Readings: Streaming, SaaS, Ownership, and Backups
- Almost Timely News, January 28, 2024: Copyright Must NEVER Apply to AI-Made Works
- Now with More Taylor Swift Fans!
- So What? Solving data problems with Generative AI
Skill Up With Classes
These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.
- 🦾 Generative AI for Marketers
- 👉 Google Analytics 4 for Marketers
- 👉 Google Search Console for Marketers (🚨 just updated with AI SEO stuff! 🚨)
- ⭐️ The Marketing Singularity: How Generative AI Means the End of Marketing As We Knew It
- Powering Up Your LinkedIn Profile (For Job Hunters) 2023 Edition
- Measurement Strategies for Agencies
- Empower Your Marketing With Private Social Media Communities
- Exploratory Data Analysis: The Missing Ingredient for AI
- How AI is Changing Marketing, 2022 Edition
- How to Prove Social Media ROI
- Proving Social Media ROI
- Paradise by the Analytics Dashboard Light: How to Create Impactful Dashboards and Reports
Advertisement: Generative AI Workshops & Courses
Imagine a world where your marketing strategies are supercharged by the most cutting-edge technology available – Generative AI. Generative AI has the potential to save you incredible amounts of time and money, and you have the opportunity to be at the forefront. Get up to speed on using generative AI in your business in a thoughtful way with Trust Insights’ new offering, Generative AI for Marketers, which comes in two flavors, workshops and a course.
Workshops: Offer the Generative AI for Marketers half and full day workshops at your company. These hands-on sessions are packed with exercises, resources and practical tips that you can implement immediately.
Course: We’ve turned our most popular full-day workshop into a self-paced course. The Generative AI for Marketers online course is now available and just updated this week! Use discount code ALMOSTTIMELY for $50 off the course tuition.
If you work at a company or organization that wants to do bulk licensing, let me know!
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.
- Analyst Sr, Digital Customer Analytics at Genuine Parts Company
- Analyst Sr, Digital Product Analytics at Genuine Parts Company
- Analytics Specialist 60-100% at Liip
- Conversion Analyst (M/W/D) at Peak Ace AG
- Digital Marketing Data Engineer at WebMechanix
- Director Of Content Marketing at Outreach
- Director Of Marketing And Partner Operations at Writer
- Director, Data Operations, Paid Marketing at Marriott International
- Full Stack Developer To Svt Play:s Planning And Insights Team at SVT Play
- Hard Rock Digital at Hard Rock Digital
- Manager, Analytics – Digital Product at Genuine Parts Company
- Manager, Digital Merchandising at Marriott FLEX – Bethesda, MD
- Measurement Strategist at DC Metro
- Senior Data Analyst at Point
- Senior Digital Analyst (M/W/D) at Peak Ace AG
- Seo Specialist 80-100% at Liip
- Sr Analyst, Digital & Ecommerce at Genuine Parts Company
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
- YouTube Now Has 100M Premium and Music Subscribers via Social Media Today
- Universal Music Group Pulls Songs From TikTok, Causing Chaos On The Platform via Techdirt
- Social Media Approval Process: A Checklist for Your Team via Agorapulse
Media and Content
- How Often to Perform Content Audit in 2024 via Portent
- By the numbers: Most Americans want brands to promote diversity. But theres a big caveat via PR Daily
- How to apply The rule of 7 in branding and public relations via Home
SEO, Google, and Paid Media
- What’s Involved in a Technical SEO Audit?
- Google Rolls Out Image Creation Within Its Bard Chatbot, Updated Visual Generation Models via Social Media Today
- How to Use Ahrefs and ChatGPT to Improve Your SEO
Advertisement: Business Cameos
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?
Tools, Machine Learning, and AI
- Designing generative AI workloads for resilience via AWS Machine Learning Blog
- Chip race: Microsoft, Meta, Google, and Nvidia battle it out for AI chip supremacy via The Verge
- Inside Meta’s AI strategy: Zuckerberg stresses compute, open source and training data via VentureBeat
Analytics, Stats, and Data Science
- Pinterest Analytics 101: Tips and Tools to Track Your Success
- Top 10 Communities in Data Science in 2024
- Canada and UK Sign AI Agreement to Share Computing Power
All Things IBM
- Forging a framework for central bank digital currencies and tokenization of other financial assets via IBM Blog
- Top concerns industry leaders have about cyberattacks in 2024 and beyond via IBM Blog
- Is premium DNS worth it? via IBM Blog
Dealer’s Choice : Random Stuff
- Meta Stock Soars 20% After Earnings. Here’s What Wall Street Is Saying.
- Report suggests studios lack tech to sustain live service ambitions via VentureBeat
- Fast-charging EV battery could change the game completely
How to Stay in Touch
Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:
- My blog – daily videos, blog posts, and podcast episodes
- My YouTube channel – daily videos, conference talks, and all things video
- My company, Trust Insights – marketing analytics help
- My podcast, Marketing over Coffee – weekly episodes of what’s worth noting in marketing
- My second podcast, In-Ear Insights – the Trust Insights weekly podcast focused on data and analytics
- On Threads – random personal stuff and chaos
- On LinkedIn – daily videos and news
- On Instagram – personal photos and travels
- My free Slack discussion forum, Analytics for Marketers – open conversations about marketing and analytics
Advertisement: Ukraine 🇺🇦 Humanitarian Fund
The war to free Ukraine continues. If you’d like to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has set up a special portal, United24, to help make contributing easy. The effort to free Ukraine from Russia’s illegal invasion needs our ongoing support.
Events I’ll Be At
Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:
- Tourism Industry Association of Alberta’s Tourism Summit, Edmonton, February 2024
- Independent Collegiate Booksellers Association, Denver, February 2024
- Social Media Marketing World, San Diego, February 2024
- MarketingProfs AI Series, Virtual, March 2024
- Society for Marketing Professional Services, Boston, April 2024
- Society for Marketing Professional Services, Los Angeles, May 2024
- Australian Food and Grocery Council, Melbourne, May 2024
- MAICON, Cleveland, September 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.
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.
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
You might also enjoy:
- Almost Timely News, December 10, 2023: Where Generative AI and Language Models are Probably Going in 2024
- Can Causation Exist Without Correlation? Yes!
- Almost Timely News, December 17, 2023: Improving the Performance of Generative AI Prompts
- Almost Timely News, December 31, 2023: Three Words and Four Enemies of 2024
- How To Set Your Consulting Billing Rates and Fees
Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:
Get your copy of AI For Marketers