Robot Focus Groups – the future or just theatre?

Stephen Hawking is warning about the dangers or relying too much on robots.


Writing in The Independent, Stephen has warned there are “no fundamental limits” to what machines may be able to accomplish in the future.

“One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand”

Take a look at this newsreader in Japan – 


It’s not too hard to imagine focus groups being run in a similar way, is it?

You won’t actually need focus groups in the future, of course, as we’ll all be providing every emotion, thought, behaviour, intention, justification and more through our wearable technology (contact lenses, fingernails, jewellery, clothes, etc.) – but we’ll still have focus groups because of tradition and some organisations will like the entertainment value.

So if Stephen is worried what do other experts think?

Well, Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX and Tesla motors, reported that he thought robots were “dangerous.”

“There have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator.”

Despite his reservations, Musk himself has recently invested in an artificial intelligence company.

Modern day Pinocchio or glimpse of the future?


(This builds on my earlier posts –

  • Rick Pullan



    What an amazingly apposite article for current times.  Well done. 
    You are dead right.  How many
    times do I lament…


    … data geeks are dangerous… my question is this… how many
    people do you know who are great at data literacy and inspirational with marketing ideas and business acumen, a pretty
    unique blend of commercial holisticity.  I’ve
    been in business for 37 years and I haven’t met many… Clive Humby… his protégé Richard
    Organ, now a leading data detective.


    The need of this skill is increasingly required as data influx
    increases exponentially.  Welcome to the age
    of big data and the danger of walking in thick data treacle.  We’ll all end up standing still as data
    stifles us.  The reality is most of it is
    not relevant.  Companies need to bottom
    this one out.  The other issue is many,
    many organisations are lumbered with hugely expensive legacy investment to
    handle data, a lot of it unused… the whole hot potato syndrome.


    The issue is this… what data matters to understand how
    people buy, perceive, need, want, predict, recommend my proposition.  How can I balance the bird’s eye top down view
    with a granular bottoms up view without disappearing up the proverbial?  What are the critical data fields on a
    database?  What are the critical searches
    for social media monitoring that aid commercial strategy development?


    Whatever happens in behavioural trends, consumption
    behaviour, mystic magic, there are only 3 sources of business development for anyone
    in business:

    Imagine if you increase customers by 15% (getting
    new customers)

    Imagine if you increase average purchase by 15% (keeping
    current customers)

    Imagine if you increase frequency of purchase by

    Oh, and more customer
    reactivation too.


    Anyone got any secrets up their sleeve I don’t know about?


    Here’s a crucial freebie… how many people running brands and
    businesses know why customers DON’T buy their brand, their product or proposition?


    Oh I hear them say… I have qual and quan research on that…
    really… can you identify, quantify, rank and prioritise the differences in the reasons
    why u people buy and why they don’t buy?


    Run that one by me again, I hear.




    What data do I need, why do I need it, how will I use it,
    how can I track changes.  All data is, is
    knowledge, but have I got the skill to interpret it and apply it to engage and
    involve more my customer chain, whatever it is?


    This is all about getting a bit more knowledge, being in a
    bit more informed position… in order to understand the customer journey and how
    it zigs and zags amongst the touch points.


    But as you so clearly illustrate… data is only knowledge,
    half the equation.


    But it’s not a sinecure or short cut to skill.


    Skill is how you use the knowledge.


    Here’s a simplistic analogy, let it sink in, then extrapolate
    it to see why monumental cock ups can happen.


    I’m borrowing this from one of my fellow iMA practitioners. 


    An example of knowledge is that I know Tomato is a fruit.


    The skill is that I don’t put it in a fruit salad.


    I agree with your art gallery illustration.


    Welcome to the skill of interpretation of the right data to
    help define the creative brief to improve customer or consumer retention, charm
    prospects for acquisition, referral, transaction value and so on.


    I’m not giving all the secrets away!?


    But think of the business development scenario as data
    detection to discover the pictures in the data others can’t see, identify the revenue
    nuggets, then share it with the creative marketing guys to weave their magic.


    But make sure you sense check it before chucking it into the


    The DMA has just started a brand and trust discussion, so
    this should feed into that too…


    To be continued…