Technology, the metaverse, and artificial intelligence: they’re in the news now more than ever. As much as we talk about AI, we appreciate the reminder also need to keep the human front and center. And it can reap amazing results.
At MAICON 2022, Domhnaill Hernon, Global Lead, Cognitive Human Enterprise at EY, spoke about when AI, the metaverse, and humanity collide. Hernon is the global lead and co-founder of a new initiative at EY to create the Cognitive Human Enterprise. This is a pioneering new approach combining massively multidisciplinary collaboration and full-spectrum diversity to maximize organizational cognitive flexibility.
What does that all mean for marketers?
Watch Domhnaill Hernon’s MAICON 2022 Keynote
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Domhnaill shared some great examples of the intersection of AI and humanity that the EY team and their collaborators are working on...
Eva Davidova and the Homogenization of Our Humanity in the Metaverse
Davidova is on a mission to make the metaverse more representative of the people in it. Picture this: you’re in the metaverse or a virtual environment and you select an avatar to best represent you. Your choices are limited and it really isn’t a strong representation of you as a human. Davidova, an EY Artist in Residence, believes we’re homogenizing the entire planet that engages in these virtual environments.
We should be asking questions about how we want to identify, and what do we each want to represent. Is that one image/avatar a true representation of each of us as humans? Even if we get something close to what we think fits the bill, are we the same each day? Are the avatars truly representing our thoughts, feelings, emotions, location, and more?
We need the metaverse to allow humans to meet people where they are, to best represent themselves and identify as whatever they want for any social context at any moment in time. And we need to provide users a breadth of opportunity and optionality such that they can show up quickly and easily feeling represented.
Davidova is trying to determine what the interesting ways are that we can pick up on that which make us distinct…that might not be obvious normally, and how can we amplify that distinctiveness in the virtual world so people can be represented in new and interesting ways.
Laura Splan and the VR Experience
The EY team and Laura Splan came across a joint frustration about virtual reality: When you go into a physical room, you’re a biological, physical entity. When you put on a VR headset, your experience starts, and you're fully immersed from step one. Laura believes our experiences should start the moment we step into the actual space. This idea—how could the experience be more meaningful if it started immediately when entering a VR space—led the EY team to create the concept of “a residue.” This residue is an idea that you when you go into a virtual environment and something is imprinted on you within that environment, that it lasts with you in the physical world and builds a bridge between these two environments and experiences.
Ultimately, it’s the idea of putting humans at the center, not just transporting users to a fantastical, virtual place. Because the EY team has worked deeply with artists who are asking these hard questions and thinking about this technology/human intersection, the team is able to build technologies and solutions that tap into this way of thinking.
Reeps One and the Power of Technology Collaboration
Reeps One (Harry Yeff), is one of the best beat boxers in the world—someone who can make their voice sound like anything—and one of the most experimental artists at that. He has pushed the human voice to the absolute limits, doing things that have never been done before. A few years ago, he felt he had reached the limits of his potential with his voice, plateauing and turning to other types of art to expand his creativity.
Around that same time, the EY team was working to develop machine learning (ML) algorithms and AI tools that could enhance human creativity. Knowing of Reeps One, it made sense for the EY team to reach out to him for a collaboration.
EY trained ML algorithms on Reeps One’s beatboxing. After a period of time, the algorithms reached the level of maturity where they gave him back sounds and techniques that sounded like him, but were distinctly different. Through that process, the human trained the algorithms, and the algorithms gave something new back to the human. It became a collaborative process where Reeps One would generate a sound, give it to the algorithm, the algorithm would interpret it and give back a sound. This became his “Second Self,” an AI-powered digital twin of his voice.
For the first time in his life, he had something that was on par with his talents, albeit distinctly different. It gave him the opportunity to level up his voice and do techniques, performances, compositions like he had never done before.
If artificial intelligence can help these creatives level up in these ways, how could AI-powered technology help the rest of us?
Hernon stressed, “Technology should work to serve humanity, not to replace it.” He continued, “Figure out your starting point, your fundamental philosophy. What are you trying to achieve? Is it in service of humanity or is it the exact opposite?”
It was a great presentation at MAICON 2022—and we encourage you to think about the role of technology in your career, your life, and in humanity when you are making important decisions and innovations.
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Cathy McPhillips is the Chief Growth Officer at Marketing AI Institute.