Hey FC peeps, Brian here this week. So, if you haven’t already, you need to go listen to FC Visions Podcast Episode #4: Our Sh*tty Robot Future. I’ve been obsessing over it. Sprinkle in a little Marshall McLuhan and you get this email, apologies in advance. I’ll cut straight to my takeaway:
If the medium is the message and the AI is the ultimate form of media, the message is that humanity is unnecessary.
There are three things we assess as humans:
- What is (and what was)
- What could be
- What should be
All of our syntheses and creations are based on these fundamental questions.
AI is already quite adept at assessing “what is” (data trends) and “what could be” (projections). And it’s only going to get better at both of those things with more data and improved algorithms. Probably better than us humans. And now it’s constructing: Dalle-2 and GPT-3 are the faint beginnings of proof that AI can take on skills we thought we owned, such as creativity and the synthesis of beauty.
The Algo’s message: you are replaceable.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the rise in depression for super users of algo-driven platforms.
So that leaves #3 - “what should be”.
Morality, ethics, and assessment of what is worthwhile are the last hope of humanity.
We own joy, hope, desire, despair, love, and kindness.
They’ve also been our greatest cause of strife. Utopianism is the most extreme version of “what should be” applied. Utopianists have “a model” that if everyone followed, the world would “just work” the way it is “supposed to.” When applied IRL, it has led to our largest wars and even personal conflicts.
And AI is coming for this as well. Or actually, perhaps it already has.
AI is ultimately a utopian media, aimed at making things perfect in our businesses, governments, and personal lives.
So as you’re building your empires and lives, whether they are large or small, remember:
The future SHOULD be a human story. That’s what we’re about at Future Commerce.
(And yes I have so so much more to say here and have contained myself for the sake of The Senses - you can bet on a podcast or Insiders to follow…)
I, Alexa. Asimov’s, I mean, Amazon’s Three Laws of Robotics (aka EULA):
I. A robot must only take actions that benefit Amazon.
II. A robot may take actions for people as long as they do not conflict with the first law.
III. All data collected as a part of a robot’s actions belong to Amazon in perpetuity.
Yep, that’s right, Amazon is buying iRobot (of Roomba fame), their fourth largest acquisition of all time. This makes a lot of sense, as Amazon’s been experimenting with unique hardware for some time. Use cases abound. Alexa integration anyone? Or how about a new data source for advertising? ALSO: Prepared to get Ziggy with it. Amazon just gave Alexa a new alt wake word, Ziggy.
Verified Body. Kim K publicly revealed results from her full body scan. This harkens back to early Future Commerce visions of a more verified web, which will include body data. "Certain sites will likely include some sort of “verified” tag and require a real-time connection to your body measurement data and health monitoring tools", Brian wrote back in 2017. Five years later: “Dexa scans are commodities now!” says Phillip. Social sites of the future: “Want our [proverbial blue check mark]? Schedule an appointment at our certified x-ray center today!”
More Sights & Sounds. Bed Bath & Beyond is axing its private brand, Wild Sage, as it works to reverse declining sales. This doesn’t bode well for them. Earth is spinning faster than usual and had its shortest day ever. No wonder it feels like there's not enough time in the day. Oh, and U.S job growth soared in July, with a gain of 528,000. We’re back to pre-pandemic unemployment, baby.
Premium Mainstream. Aēsop, one of Phillip’s favorite skincare brands, is going mainstream. With its primary locations providing an indie vibe, the brand is taking a notable shift and setting up shop on London’s Regent Street, sitting adjacent to high-end brands aimed at the middle class, Michael Kors and LuLulemon. With this bold move, it's fair to question if the brand will be able to keep its cult-like edge.
The Trouble with Pop-ups. As we mentioned on Wednesday, Nordstrom is partnering up with Allbirds for a pop-up experience. Pop-ups have been trendy for a while, but they’re sprouting up everywhere, Tribbles-style. Saks opened a pop-up in Aspen, Colorado last month and as this new trend of experiential retail takes the forefront, we can expect more to materialize, well, everywhere.
Hard to Sell-tzer. Truly Hard Seltzer has begun to see a dip in sales as consumers are flocking to what's new and interesting, as well as flocking to low price beers. To combat this, the brand is reformulating its core product with a new launch of a Truly Vodka Seltzer line in the fall. Not sure if this will help though, as some of our team still think seltzers “are just AWFUL,” with “low-quality alcohol,” and “make you feel like crap.”
Coffcoin? Coming next month, Starbucks will unveil its web3-based rewards program. Their NFTs won’t just serve as digital collectibles but provide other exclusive content. Interim CEO, Howard Schultz, believes that this push of bringing in NFTs will continue the connection to their younger Gen Z audience (which as we mentioned earlier this week, they’re winning). But will web3 make the difference? Or should they just double down on product?
Can you Keep a Secret? Secret menu items are off the charts for brands like Starbucks and In-N-Out, but DTC brands are starting to have their part. Sparkling water brand Aura Bora created a secret menu for DTC customers, launching three new limited-time flavors. This new strategy allows the brand to quickly test new flavors. Brands that have loyal, and highly engaged customers can both reward and test with these secret product drops. Aura Bora customers, consider yourself lucky! We bet there’s plenty more of this to come.
59 is the New 29. Flaunt those candles. Everyone and everything is getting older these days. Old isn’t going out of style like it used to. Everywhere you look the age of achievement is rising. With the new adaptions to work being less physical, consumers becoming obsessed with familiarity, and humans getting smarter, the old elite is spending more time at work. Also, the body of knowledge required to actually do something new and interesting is immense, so it’s taking people longer to get there.
“I can’t wait for my 50s!” - Brian, unironically, while in his 30s.
Reality Bites. Let your thoughts run wild. A study published last week shows that humans underestimate the value of thinking, and proves that daydreaming helps benefit the brain. All good news for those of us that are constantly in our heads. But for those that need a little more help finding those moments of solitude, find the right time and place to get lost (like maybe the shower), nurture creativity, and always keep positive mindfulness. Give yourself space to linger on those thoughts, finish them, and socialize them. Daydreaming as a proficiency, futurists! Practice makes perfect. Or perhaps this takes all the fun out of it. Naw.