These Super Bowl ads try to make humans feel better about AI taking over, with sad robots - Southern Business Review


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Friday, February 1, 2019

These Super Bowl ads try to make humans feel better about AI taking over, with sad robots

"Robots will be able to do everything better than us. ... I mean all of us," said Elon Musk in 2017.

It is too early to know whether Musk is right, but, as GeekWire points out, a handful of Super Bowl commercials are trying to make humans feel a little better about the abilities of our robot counterparts.

An ad for Michelob Ultra set to run Super Bowl Sunday starts with human runners being left in the dust by a running robot, flesh and blood golfers shocked by a golfing robot, live boxers startled by a robot boxer's strength and people in a spin class who can't keep up with their robot teacher.

But then...cut to a titanium robot sadly peering in the window of a bar while humans enjoy beer and each other's company.

"It's only worth it, if you can enjoy it" flashes across the screen, as the robot seems dejected, excluded and sad.

In a Pringles Super Bowl commercial, two young men stack potato chips in different flavor combinations and wonder how many different stacks are possible. A nearby smart speaker voice assistant knows the answer immediately.

But then the voice assistant rues that it will never eat one.

"Sadly, I'll never know the joy of tasting any," the robotic voice says. "I have no hands to stack with. No mouth to taste with. No soul to feel with.…"

In TurboTax's Super Bowl commercial, viewers meet "RoboChild." The small robot with a child's face wakes his human dad because he wants a 3 a.m. snack.

RoboChild wants a meal that sounds very much like something AI would come up with by running foodie data through an algorithm: a kale salad with chicken and guac ("I know guac's extra," monotones RoboChild).

"You're not hungry, you don't eat," the dad tells RoboChild.

"The world isn't ready for you yet. Your time will come," the father says, and tells RoboChild he loves him.

"I love you, too, papa," RoboChild says. "If I know what love is."

Though meant for a laugh, the commercials echo a point expressed by the so-called "oracle of AI," Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Chinese venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures and author of "AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order."

"I believe [AI] is going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind. More than electricity," Lee told CBS's "60 Minutes" in January.

But Lee said there are capabilities humans have that robots will not anytime soon: "I believe in the sanctity of our soul. I believe there is a lot of things about us that we don't understand. I believe there's a lot of love and compassion that is not explainable in terms of neural networks and computation algorithms."

Make that love, compassion and enjoying beer and potato chips.

See also:

Elon Musk: 'Robots will be able to do everything better than us'

The 'Oracle of A.I.': These 4 kinds of jobs won't be replaced by robots

3 predictions for the future, according to billionaire tech titan Elon Musk