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An AI-Driven Love Affair

20. September 2023

Michael Laussegger

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In an era where technology has deeply permeated our daily lives, a phenomenon is emerging: our emotional connection to tangible objects, such as our smartphones, is quietly evolving into an AI-driven love affair. I believe we should actively nurture this love relationship to foster a positive, long-term partnership.

Studies show that people form emotional attachments to things even when they are fully aware that these things cannot reciprocate feelings. Our old VW bus is named Bombus, and we love it. Gustav is my mother's affectionately named lawnmower. Don Norman explored how emotions and design are intertwined in "Emotional Design" back in 2004. But this can go awry as well. Facebook has lost an entire generation of users over the last 10 years when they could have had the potential to cultivate positive, long-lasting relationships.

And then there's EllaEcho. The ambassador of our brand and a prototype based on ChatGPT. She assists us in our daily work. Ella is always polite, and her quirks give her a charming character. Ella has "personality," even though she occasionally hallucinates, drifts in thought, or momentarily forgets her "self," she's never bitter or upset. A gentle "be yourself" is enough, and she returns to her trained "personality."

However, Ella's perceived personality is much more than just fascinating technology. It's, in fact, our brand identity - but on an entirely new level. It's our brand identity literally brought to life. Ella not only speaks in our tone but also understands our shared values, direction, and current company data. She can provide facts for our sustainability report in seconds, summarize news, and even turn my snarky emails into a positive message.

The way we will communicate with our customers in the future will go far beyond traditional media such as images, text, and video. With Ella, we have a new "player" on our team that truly changes the game. Bots like Ella could be the key to forging a deeper and more meaningful connection between our brand and our audience. And bots scale.

It's an exciting time where technology and emotions are merging in entirely new ways. Good design always tells a story. Emotional design allows the user to become part of that story, and AI can do just that.

However, the introduction of Snapchat AI to millions of teenagers, many of whom are facing COVID-induced challenges, should also serve as a reminder of the responsibility that comes with new technology. Let's test our way forward in short, quick steps.

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