The AI Rabbit Hole

Had a couple of ideas rattling around the ole noggin for this week. Started writing a bit on the Vaccine Passport initiative that some of y’all may have heard politicians yelling at each other over. I think there’s some to unpack with that but I don’t have a strong POV on it at the moment other than it’s definitely a problem technology should be solving.

This is a consortium trying to figure the interoperability part out: https://www.goodhealthpass.org/. I am not sure what to make of their white paper other than I think it’s too long and doesn’t say much of anything unique given what you would think that group would bring to the table. I am a fan of anyone taking a whack at standards though. Maybe that’s always got to be the first step in what is a massively messy process. Rick in accounting knows that feeling come tax season AMIRITE.

When I was researching some on these digital vaccine passports I did see this ad (in this article if you’re interested)

And I was like oh hell yeah. I don’t have any DUIs and I like money.

But then I saw his license was clearly a California license. And that he was standing in front of an obviously different DMV logo:

It appears our ad man, John Doe – as listed on his ID, is not from the Old Dominion but in fact a member of the west coast elite. Why is this California man trying to steal my VA DUI money that is rightfully mine?

A deeper look at his ID reveals some interesting facts:

He has no birthday
His photo is a sample
He is 5’6 and 170 pounds - putting him in the 13th percentile according to Tall.Life
His hair is listed as brown but is obviously white

Point being I think at this point I have realized two things:
This man is a fraud
I think I’ve put more thought into this than anyone rightfully should

Naturally the next step was for me to see how I could get my VA DUI money for practicing a life of safe driving habits. This took me to comparison.org:

At least they got the right DMV now. And I’m now seeing this ploy was to get me to reconsider my insurance. Outside of such a bizarre trigger to reconsider insurance - I wanted to know more who thought this was a good idea. Who are the puppet masters pulling my strings to encourage my behaviors online?

It’s THESE PEOPLE:

The fine staff of comparison.org. They seem harmless enough:
“Comparisons.org collects information from thousands of products and services to help you make the right choice and find the best. Our team of experts are here to provide in-depth reviews and comparison notes of the leading services. Compare and Save!”

Clearly I wasn’t getting anywhere with their homepage - lots of broad platitudes. I wanted to know why these ads were so bad and what the purpose they served was. These comparison.org people were probably just pawns in a broader game.

I needed to go higher - I needed to follow the money and at the footer of their comparison.org website I saw:

MEDIAFORCE. So who the hell is mediaforce?

Well…

They are the global ai powered customer acquisition platform duh.

I’m starting to get a sense of why their ads suck.

But who are these people then? The force of media?

Wait a goddamn minute. THEY’RE THE SAME PEOPLE.

I had to know more.

I found an explainer video on their about page:

And now I think these people might be kinda insane. Or rock?

I honestly can’t tell how I feel about them. And now it’s weird because now I have a (manicured) face and a vibe of people building technology that I think is a kinda bad and seemingly a little predatory.

So what now?

I’m still left wondering why Global AI Powered Customer Acquisition Platforms are cranking out really lame content and ads.

So I did what any red blooded American does when they have a question: I googled it.

I found this: https://www.pattern89.com/

“Power every creative decision.
No more A/B tests or educated guesses.”

It goes on to say in the header: “PREDICT CREATIVE PERFORMANCE WITH A.I.”

If my experience is any indicator, the AI product they build just says: “Yeah, it kinda sucks. But I guess go for it.”

Digging a little deeper:

I think it’s pretty telling that in their product pages the ads already seem bad.

I’m not trying to be a downer on AI tech, quite the opposite actually. I desperately want to build useful shit on top of it.

But if this is what we are running towards - what’s the point?

AI is a potent and incredibly powerful technology. It stands to create a ton of opportunity for the world and an immense amount of utility. But also I think smart people are getting sucked into using AI to create more noise in what was already a noisey environment. I don’t offer any real paths forward here other than a generic gut check I recommend we ask ourselves as we get into this very lucrative space: Are we using this for any actual value? Or are we selling Mason some bad ads?

Mediaforce or comparison.org seem like a collective group of smart people offering a novel solution to the world. I hope they find some more novel ways to make it work than my buddy John Doe from California fail to get me to buy insurance.