Thinking

Last Month in AI:
Her

Published
June 4, 2024

How should marketers feel about Her? It depends on which Her we’re talking about. The empathetic, personable AI called Samantha from the 2013 movie? The cryptic one-word tweet by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on the eve of launching GPT-4o in May? Or the AI digital twin of Samantha, called Sky, who’s the face, or rather the voice, of GPT-4o?

By: Paul Marsden, SYZYGY GROUP’s consultant psychologist

In May 2024, things got personal for Her. We’re not talking about the storm in a PR teacup that was Scarlett Johansson taking personal umbrage at OpenAI using a voice actress with a similar voice to her own to train the vocal cords of GPT-4o. ‘ScarJo-gate’ may have been more about a deft PR stunt to keep people talking about OpenAI during this month’s Google and Microsoft AI-focused conferences. No, what got personal was GPT-4o (o for ‘omni’) itself, or rather Herself.

GPT-4o seems to be qualitatively different from anything we’ve seen before. It’s AI that feels alive. It feels alive because it’s personal, personable, and has personality. In the live launch demos, we saw that the new AI model from OpenAI could hold real-time voice conversations, detect and express emotions like humans, use and understand humour like humans, and exhibit human-like personality traits. GPT-4o may or may not be sentient or sapient, reason, or even know how to safely stop cheese from sliding off pizza like its Gemini twin. However, GPT-4o behaves like homo sapiens, including knowing how to flirt. Her feels fallibly human.

The launch of the humanised GPT-4o coincided with new research showing that humans can no longer tell if they’re talking to an AI or a human. AIs talk like us, behave like us, and increasingly look like us – just ask Katy Perry’s mom. The Turing Test has been consigned to a silicon grave. And this research was done before GPT-4o.

With added personality, humour, and emotions, the illusion – or reality – created by GPT-4o is nearly complete. The old trick for distinguishing humans from AI no longer works; we used to be able to spot AIs because they tend to be more creative, empathetic, and understanding than our fellow humans. But now it seems that AIs may down-regulate and replicate human foibles and imperfections. More human than human, in Tyrell’s words.

Psychologically, Her may turn out to be a big deal, with profound implications well beyond marketing. For instance, the technology will surely accelerate the controversial DAI (digital afterlife industry) made up of dead actors and dead relatives kept ‘alive’ to interact and work after their death as digital doppelgangers. Her technology makes these replicants indistinguishable from their former human selves. Yes, VW, we’re looking at you.

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For marketing, the impact of the Her innovation is likely to be felt sooner than later.
Her technology removes any remaining Uncanny Valley effect, the human disgust reflex when human-like technology is nearly, but not quite, human. Her has dissolved that human-AI divide. Her is human, at least perceptually speaking. We’re already seeing AI actors in ads and music videos, and expect more of this. With the AI/human divide dissolving, look for these Her-powered changes – and opportunities – in marketing:

  1. Hybrid marketing teams. Your remote working colleagues, whether creatives, strategists, or assistants, may be Her or human. You won’t know, and soon you may not care, as long as they do their job. The future of marketing teams will be AIs and humans working together in human-like imperfect harmony.
  2. AI social media influencers everywhere. Why engage with a stroppy, unreliable human influencer who can go off script, when you can engage a multi-lingual team of Her influencers, who are perfectly on brand, perfectly human, work 24/7 and are perfectly optimized for engagement and, well, influence?
  3. Synthetic user and consumer research. With human personalities, expect Her to replace the 2% of humans who agree to participate in research. Rather than use unemployed actors briefed to masquerade as target consumers, sense-check your ideas, creative, and campaigns with synthetic humans and silicon samples powered by Her technology.
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TL;DR Her is the future, and Her future is here now. The world used to have a wall that separated kind. With Her, there is no wall. No human AI divide. And once you tell either side there’s no wall, expect change fast. Will you fall in love with Her, spurn Her, or engage with Her as your equal? And what about Her? How will she treat you?

Welcome to Her world.

Let’s talk about AI
Dr. Paul Marsden
Dr Paul Marsden Digital Strategist
SYZYGY GROUP
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