Attack of the Killer Personal Assistants Meant to Make Your Life Better!


Last month, Blanc & Otus attended Artificial Intelligence: Beyond the Hype & Headlines hosted by LEWIS. Featuring a panel of the leading journalists in the space, the event dived into whether the common predictions and bugbears of AI are fluff or not. 

The panel was made up of some true heavy weights: Blair Hanley Frank of VentureBeat, Hannah Kuchler of the Financial Times, Paul Hsiao of Canvas Ventures and Ted Greenwald of the Wall Street Journal. The moderator was Quentin Hardy, head of Editorial for Google Cloud and formally of the New York Times, Forbes and Wall Street Journal.

The panel discussed a variety of issues, including the potential dangers of AI, workforce automation, universal basic income, potential regulatory frameworks or the lack thereof, the adoption of social biases by AI tools and the technology’s manipulation by hostile actors. Ted and Quentin were generally hopeful about the future dependability and utility of artificial intelligence, believing that engineers will be able to head off any problems with smart tools that will increasingly boost professionals’ competitive advantages. The other panelists had a variety of concerns about the technology’s continued development, which ranged from kill bots and supercharged international hackers to a Go playing robot as the predecessor to Skynet.

In addition to these philosophical musings, the panel offered practical advice. Both Blair and Hannah advised PR professionals to clearly and quickly outline the value of the opportunity in the email and subject line when pitching AI stories; a lead in of “AI for Dog Walking” doesn’t cut it. For those who want to be up to date on AI news, the panel unanimously recommended Import AI, a newsletter from Jack Clark, a former AI reporter from Bloomberg. The panelists also agreed that AI has a branding problem, with terms “intelligence”, “learning” and “brain” causing anxiety for a consumer audience. So maybe its time to introduce our take on AI’s 21st century rebranding: robot butler.

Charles Ayers