Ng: Sponsored content and artificial intelligence

ON social media, it can be difficult to determine if a post has an ulterior motive or not.

We are also curious about whether the post is paid for or not. This came into focus due to Michael Phelps’ post.

He has won more than 20 gold medals in the last three Olympics, including five more golds last week in Rio, making him practically the most decorated Olympian in history. He has announced his retirement, and in his Instagram page, in the midst of glory, he posted a picture with his fiancée Nicole Johnson, and wrote, “I love spending time together with you. Thank you for everything. Can’t wait for the next chapter in our life to begin! Love you!”

Such professions of love looks so heartfelt, and personal. Only that his picture with the girl has the background poster with the Omega brand plastered all over. And the post has #omega hashtag. Of course, it won’t take long for you to discover that Phelps is a brand ambassador of the Swiss watchmaker. So this is obviously a paid post.

Celebrities are really lucky. They get paid for doing things they should be doing in the first place. If you were the girl, and the guy was paid to profess his love to you, would you believe it? What if they are paid to profess love to somebody else, to create love teams to create publicity for an incoming film or brand?

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Because of tech advances, we face the real prospect of our lives and businesses being transformed or affected.

Among the biggest is that there will be driverless cars soon. Singapore has also introduced driverless taxis, and Finland, driverless buses. These technologies may rekindle the debate whether we should use trains or bus rapid transit. If we can get buses that can drive themselves on the streets, that might be a good alternative.

Or maybe not.

In the end, buses still cannot transport the volume of people that a train does.

Among the biggest things that might be affected is our BPO industry. An overwhelming two thirds of our BPO is the contact center industry. We already have over one million employed in the BPO industry, and there are projections that in a few years, they will reach two million. But we need to level up.

As you may know, Siri of Apple, or Cortana of Microsoft, or Watson of IBM are all about artificial intelligence, and how machines can think and talk like humans. There are now numerous apps that can hold you in conversation (Facebook now have chatbots), and you won’t know it’s a machine talking or chatting to you in everyday conversation. So it is possible that in the next few years, robots can take over many of the things we do now.

In many cities, robots now clean the rooms, manufacture the products, and mow the lawns. Last year, Japan opened the first hotel staffed by robots, and a second one is going to be opening soon. The spectre of robots taking over our lives (whether for good or bad) is becoming really possible.

(wilson@ngkhai.com)
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