Reclaim the long term

A few years back I gave away my then new TV just 2 weeks after purchasing it. That device was making me ill. The media’s #1 commodity has always been fear (and it’s biologically addictive byproduct, cortisol). That’s why the daily news has a stock market section: in a long term perspective, it’s insane to follow the market on a day-to-day basis (and the number of actual day traders is tiny). The media caters unreasonable fear (it’s so addictive). They cater to the primitive short-term thinking part of our brain, that anticipates its daily doses of stress. Give away your TV, reclaim the long term.

Teach me.

Too often I hear the phrase “educate the customer”, or “educate your clients”. This is terrible terminology — and a better word is needed. We don’t want to be educated, preached to or lectured. In the words of Oleanna by the legendary David Mamet: Teach me. I want you to teach me.

Educating the client is just another way to say preaching.

What customers (and clients) expect

What do customers, clients and people in general expect?
Well, more than just high quality, low prices and excellent service:
– They expect satisfaction, not frustration.
– Benefits, not features
– Confidence, not confusion.
– Control, not compliance.
– Aesthetics, not art.
– A job done, not a piece of gear that takes up lots of space.
– Products to work quickly, with few delays.
– Simplicity, not complexity.
– Brevity, not verbiage.
– A relationship with the brands they pay, not “thanks-for-the-money-bye”.
– Accountability, not distrust.
– Attention, not disregard.
– Authenticity, not falseness.
– Choices, not off-the-shelf offerings.
– Convenience, not restriction.
– Availability (of the product, salespeople and support).
– Good prices, not promises and promotions
– Information on how products will serve them, how to use them, and whether products can harm them in any way.
– Value, not hype.
– Predictability & uniformity, not dissimilarity.
– Above all else, they expect respectful treatment, not disregard.

What have I left out?

The Overhype of Artificial Intelligence, and its Impending Hazards in the Hands of Incapable Policy Makers

We worship & trust AI a̶l̶m̶o̶s̶t to the degree of idolatry. Those who defend and promote the ever wide-spreading use of it in every aspect of human life are myopic to its future & present perils and threats. The leading forces of global commerce have woven AI into the fabric of our lives in order to “improve our lives and reduce costs”. Thanks to the AI revolution, our personalities and psyches have become commodities available to anyone, at low low prices (see 60 Minute’s excellent examination of this horrid world, or the short version on YouTube).

There are 2 sides (often, much more than just 2) to every coin.

Let’s take the AI-powered self-driving cars and trucks as an example for what AI can and already does to us, unbeknown to many people. Yup, it could potentially save the lives of millions (reduce up to 90% of traffic accidents according to the US DMV) – but the invention of the humble seat-belt did just that… no programming or firmware updates required. Plus, a seat-belt cannot be remotely hacked and drive you into a wall at 100 mph. Our over-reliance and addiction to technology is killing us today. Every year in the US alone, thousands of people die from using a very specific AI-driven technology (smartphones) while driving. In a 2017 research conducted for AT&T, Kantar Added Value revealed that out of 7,500 online respondedns surveyed, 90% of drivers admit to using their smartphones while driving. The top activities people admit they perform while driving are reading & writing text, playing music, viewing & taking pictures, emailing and participating on social media. Yup, 9/10 people do this stuff on their phone while they’re driving, while they know they’re undeniably much more likely to hit someone or something (a child, a car, a tree), or worse, potentially cause a pile up that kills people and injures dozens. They do all this while knowing the very same device they’re messing with while driving will contain absolute evidence that will send them to jail for a long time. This thought sure makes you feel a bit safer now on the road, doesn’t it?

The impending automated transportation revolution will probably reduce these car accidents dramatically, but the thought of humanity becoming entirely depended on a technology it that it now also technically worships constantly, night & day can be quite depressing, if you want to pick that scab for a moment.

Perhaps reclaiming our lives and detoxing ourselves from our over-reliance and addiction to tech & AI is what we need if we want to “save lives on the road”.

The danger, which Stephen Hawking mentioned in his dreary open letter warning stating AI could “spell the end of the human race”, can be anticipated in many ways – one of which is that AI could outgrow & outsmart the sum of human intelligence… then attempt to remove or re-invent humanity in order to optimize whatever it thinks it should. This idea has been repeatedly expressed not only by science-fiction greats like Mary Shelly, Karel Čapek and Philip K. Dick, but also in the 16th-century tale of the Golem of by the rabbi of Prague. I’m pretty much positive that ancient sacred writings of many religions Alan Turing, father of the modern computer, already said this very clearly back in 1951: “It seems probable that once the machine thinking method had started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers… They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. At some stage therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.” Today, this very same notion is also expressed very vocally by folks like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and Louis Del Monte, author of The Artificial Intelligence Revolution. As AI researcher Eliezer Yudowski put it, “AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.”

Absurd failures in AI, such as Microsoft’s racist twitter chatbot Tay or Amazon’s once-secret AI Recruiter (who’s a total sexist, apparently), are not the product of an all-knowing machine that continuously builds itself at an exponential rate – it’s the product of poor or mediocre planning, design and thinking by human programmers. Perhaps AI programmers are naturally maligned by a demigod complex – which can explain why even tech giants like GoogleAmazonApple and Facebook produce alarming failures with AI. Governments and government-size organizations (both types of organizations always share a bed) are those who are buying & making these AI technologies, we run the risk of becoming our own freak creations’ house pets. The technological industry is concerned too much about “progress” and profit, and too little with machine morals and ethics. Perhaps furthmore, now should be the time for humanity to start designing the conditions of its complete and total slavery to the machine (whether the machine is controlled by a handful of individuals, the masses, or its constantly-evolving and omnipresent digital brain). Our over-reliance on computers & AI to handle the challenging aspects is rapidly turning our lives into a comfy, lazy existence devoid of independent thinking – a joyless life in which we are constantly marinated in the somatic pleasures of bits, bytes, blips and bloops.

We cannot rely on misinformed, unintelligent, lazy and apathetic policy makers to attempt to control the unstoppable growth of AI – it’s up to us to control our addiction to technological slavery. Perhaps it’s time to turn off, tune in and drop out.

The future challenges of today’s supermarkets

𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐮𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐨𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐯𝐚𝐥𝐮𝐞 (𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞?) 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 $𝟔𝟒𝟎 𝐁𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧 (𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐞𝐫)𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝟔 𝐤𝐞𝐲 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐬:

a. 𝚂𝚞𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚒𝚗𝚊𝚋𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚢: trade products of humane & responsible agriculture, and sell nutritional food that kids will love without the hidden payment cost of getting diabetes at age 12. Also, sustainability includes sustaining your customers – your Customer Lifetime Value depends on consumers remaining well and alive for many more decades, rather than dead from heart attack at age 50 due to bad nutrition choices.

b. 𝙾𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚎𝚏𝚏𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚎𝚗𝚎𝚜𝚜: crucial for rapid growth. Walmart is #1 because it beautifully engineered its supply chain to unheard-of efficiency. Now it’s doing this same thing with cashierless. Walmart is a great example of an innovator that has found new ways to cut costs & expenses. Compare Walmart’s genius at supply-chain efficiency vs. the food industry’s traditional approach to drive down costs: the greedy selling of obscene abominations that consumers are programmed to call “food”. Selling toxic, highly addictive and cruelly-produced processed low-grade food laden with shelf-life-enhancing chemicals, and programming the masses to call that “food”, is greedy and immoral. This form of greed is perhaps the prime reason for the western world being so ill (the US military spends more than $1.5 billion each year treating obesity-related health conditions and filling positions vacated by unfit troops).

c. 𝚃𝚎𝚌𝚑𝚗𝚘𝚕𝚘𝚐𝚒𝚌𝚊𝚕 𝙰𝚍𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚊𝚋𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚢. Supermarkets that want to remain in the competition will be forced to accept the future formats of payments, offering a wide array of digital payment options (e.g. Apple Pay) – and then pass on the savings to the consumer.

d. 𝙲𝚘𝚗𝚜𝚞𝚖𝚎𝚛 𝚎𝚍𝚞𝚌𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 in two areas:

  1. Payment & Adoption: incentivize & encourage consumers to adopt the future of grocery shopping. Sahir Anand from EnsembleIQ brings up the importance of prodding customers: “cashiers and employees in traditional retail stores make such adoption easier for consumers by prompting usage”.
  2. Choices: 1/3 of the entire world is overweight. 1/6 is technically obese. Super markets’ profit doesn’t have to come from overfeeding the world with addictive high-sugar / high-salt “food”, it can come from nurturing people. Encourage people to eat healthy, consume less (without necessarily spending less), grow a network of ethic suppliers and don’t push products you wouldn’t want your children or spouse to eat.

e. 𝙲𝚘𝚗𝚜𝚞𝚖𝚎𝚛 𝚎𝚍𝚞𝚌𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗. Change management is super hard in such a traditional economy as grocery. European countries will be the slowest to adopt due to the continent’s fanatic labor laws & regulations, so European grocery chains will have to invest in their human potential by educating employees and creating new jobs for them.

f. 𝙶𝚛𝚊𝚍𝚞𝚊𝚕 𝚛𝚘𝚕𝚕-𝚘𝚞𝚝. Not all populations will automatically fall in love with the new concept, so don’t go full-blast-cashierless immediately. It’s likely we will see baby boomers to falling in love with the cashierless revolution and becoming among the first to adopt it. Supermarkets will have to invest in Consumer Education

g. 𝚁𝚎𝚊𝚍𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝙵𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚞𝚛𝚎. Most likely, early attempts at revolutionary grocery-shopping concepts will suffer problems and bugs. So follow British retail grocer Sainsbury’s approach. Back in 2008, when their new e-commerce website crashed, they phoned 30,000 customers to apologize, and gave every one of them a $20 compensation voucher for their mess-up.

Supermarkets offer tremendous potential. They’re dynamic, demanding and competitive, and they impact the lives of nearly everyone. They are also about to change and mutate in a wild revolution. Some players will not remain, but those who will boldly adapt to new consumer expectations (while spending wisely) will thrive.