By: Dr. James McFarland, People Scientist
…One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things…
-Excerpt from “Tables Turned” (William Wordsworth, 1798)
Towards the end of the 18th century, an ideological movement took root in the western hemisphere. Romanticism, as it came to be known, firmly associated itself with the emotional, irrational, and the imaginative parts of the human condition. Driven by a fear of what science might become if allowed to continue unchecked, Romantics rejected the views favored by the philosophers and scientists of the Enlightenment, and instead proposed that higher truths were found in nature’s beauty and the creative capacity of one’s feelings and imagination.
One of the era’s more well-known Romantics, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, even wrote a book, warning the world of the potential horrors that can occur when humans delve too deeply into science and technological innovation. For over two hundred years, Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, has fascinated readers with the sad plight of a misbegotten and misshapen monster, and its emotionally tortured creator who spent the rest of his life trying to atone for his mistake.
Despite the advances and comforts scientific innovation has contributed to society over the years, this fear of unchecked science and technology still lingers in our collective unconscious.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, elements of Romanticism are still evident in contemporary society. The survey evaluated consumer opinions on the increasing use of AI and in general found that the majority of consumers are in favor of AI taking on larger roles across various functions. Specifically, respondents viewed AI as a significant advancement that would provide benefits in areas such as medicine, biology, weather forecasting, and agriculture.
Having AI available to assist in things like robotic surgery, cancer detection, and designing drought resistant crops were all viewed in a very positive light by a vast majority of consumers. However, when it came to art creation, mental health, and the dissemination of human-interest stories, respondents were more hesitant to view the involvement of AI as an improvement. Less than one-third of respondents considered AI-assisted pain management as a significant advance, and even fewer (20%) viewed AI-assisted mental health support in the same light. Additionally, only 16% of consumers believed that AI-generated news articles would represent a significant advancement. These findings highlight the importance of considering the potential benefits and limitations of AI in various fields, as well as the unique value that human touch and empathy bring to certain areas of life.
In a separate set of polls by the Pew Research Center, 60% of consumers report that they would be uncomfortable with their doctor using AI to determine the best treatment, saying that they expected their medical outcome in such cases to be the same or worse. Or in other words, consumers felt that the possible benefits associated with the use of AI in these areas were not worth the risk of sacrificing the empathy and individual concern associated with a human connection.
The increasing mainstream use of AI technologies, like ChatGPT, is transforming various fields, from news articles and how-to guides to advancements in agriculture, medicine, and education. While consumers appreciate the contribution and potential of this new technology, they also express concerns about the loss of individuality and human empathy in a world dominated by AI. To address these concerns, marketers must understand the importance of balancing technological advances with human empathy, emotional connection, and a sense of belonging. By acknowledging these concerns and adapting our messaging and approach to include the human element, we can effectively engage consumers and build meaningful connections that drive brand loyalty and trust.
Three suggestions for marketers:
- Focus on creating content that incorporates both AI and human elements: Marketers can work to strike a balance between AI and human empathy in their content creation, for instance, by using AI to provide personalized recommendations or to automate certain processes while also including messaging that resonates emotionally with their audience.
- Emphasize the human impact of AI: As AI continues to be integrated into various industries, it is important for marketers to showcase how these advancements benefit people in tangible ways. This can help to assuage concerns about AI replacing human decision-making processes and reassure consumers that their needs are still at the center of these technological developments.
- Leverage customer data to personalize messaging: AI can be used to analyze customer data and generate insights that can help marketers create more personalized messaging that connects with consumers on an emotional level. By understanding their audience’s values, motivations, and concerns, marketers can craft messaging that strikes the right balance between technological advancements and human empathy.
That’s it for this week! Join us next time for more psychology insights into the consumer mindset. If you have any questions or want to learn more about how to use AI in your marketing, give us a call (833-579-1905) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.