The Creatives

The Creatives

bakerArtist KSPwC_DSC5353_©KeithSpiroPhoto

The baker of USA has a website, a craft and a portfolio

When I look back on five years of connecting urban & rural Business, Art & Technology in a monthly column called The Boston & Maine Connection,  I clearly see both the power of tight communities and the vibrancy of large cities.  As my connections have expanded globally so too has my sense of how to utilize technology for the good of community.  Rapid technological changes have impacted both our sense of what makes up a community as well as how we approach communication and commerce.  Today, certain aspects of small town living apply across the web. People in small towns have always known that your personal history follows you forever. The locals never forget who you were and what you did and now – neither does Facebook nor Google.

The opportunity for global cooperation and competition has never been greater. As the Gregorian calendar turned the page to 2018, I took note that Gujarat India had already celebrated Diwali and it’s new year and Brisbane Australia & Dublin Ireland leapt  into 2018 fifteen and five hours respectively ahead of the USA. Whether you think of the world as competitive or your opportunity as collaborative, know that Australia is ranked as #1 for what I see as the most pivotal of all groups – the Creatives. The rising Creative Class is an area for intense but oftentimes overlooked opportunities.

The Creative Class includes the digital native who is comfortable around technology as a skillset as well as others who have learned to merge art and creative skills into the technology marketplace. Quite frankly, not many tech people can grasp the intangibles and boundary-free thinking that true Creatives have and in today’s fast paced world, Creatives are more important than ever.

Richard Florida wrote a book in 2002 positing the rise of this socio-economic class in a post-urbanized age. The battle for world class cities vs. the rest of the population will continue to play out on the ground as well as in the cloud. You may have heard of the “gig economy.” Well, it will be the Creatives who become the glue binding together our humanity and the machine world.

Here’s a quote from Steven Jobs in his introduction of the iPad2 in 2011:

“Technology alone is not enough—

it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

Business cries out for new markets and new customers and laments the difficulty of being heard in a digital world full of noise. With our “swipe left or swipe right” attention spans – it will be the visual and the creative that catches and holds our attention.

As brands seek to dominate and capture new clients and as technology moves people into a sales funnel and as artificial intelligence tends to predict your choices, the opportunity to succeed may very well come down to the human element of – that which catches your attention, – wins!

Australian writer and brand strategist Jess Thoms defined Creative Tech as the combination of Technology with Art and Design to create better experiences, products and brands. She goes on to say  “Working in creative tech doesn’t mean you need to learn how to code, or suddenly become a robotics engineer. It’s about the application of your creative skills and ideas to a technical platform so it performs better. Technology is made for humans, after all. So who better than storytellers, artists, poets, and psychologists to make this technology more personable?”

Perhaps the name Mark Cuban is more familiar?  Jess quotes him as saying liberal arts degrees are the future. And indeed, I agree.  I have long been an advocate of liberal arts education in a science driven world. Our humanity depends on it!

If you are a Creative, you need to find your way onto tech teams – those AI and robotics people need you to insure the inevitable future will function better.  Humanities shape language, psychology colors empathy, and trust comes from repetition, consistently, of the best experiences.  Starving artists are a thing of the past. The future belongs to those who can bring understanding to the rest of us and you will be paid handsomely for doing so.  #BAT2018

creatives CRYER header cut for blogs SM


Dr. Chatbot or AI meets the Botniks

I recently read an article about the National Health Service in England beginning a collaboration with a digital media company to build a Chatbot that can interface with patients.

One of the biggest issues in the British Healthcare System is how long a patient waits to see a doctor and in parallel with that wait, how much of their time doctors spend diagnosing and dealing with relatively simple repetitive issues and basic information transfer.

With artificial intelligence and a chat bot that can take care of doing the routine and mundane tasks of a first-line general practitioner, the physician is freed up to concentrate on the more challenging medical issues her patients face.  Welcome Dr. Chatbot.

a version of a Dr. Chatbot circa 2012

a version of a Dr./Chatbot circa 2012.

Here are a few of issues this quasi medical newcomer must address:

  1. Human like – Studies have shown a higher utilization rate of the tools when there is a more human-centric response. Terminals at a human’s height are most effective. Think of the banking industry deployment of digital assistants in branch.
  2. User Experience – combining big data synthesis and human comfort to hone in quickly on the real problem underlying how the patient presents.
  3. Compliance – it is a well known fact that clinical trials have a high, 50% or higher, fail rate because of failure to “follow as directed.”  This leads to the need for human interaction and a true human intervener to ask the questions listen to your concerns and yes, touch your hand to improve compliance.

The Hawthorne effect is a well documented phenomenon of improved results because the subject knows they are being watched. There is a new startup company called Hawthorne Effect looking to do just that. They are providing  human interveners with the hopes of providing better and more accurate results in clinical trials.

The premise is a sound one in that trusted human professionals go out to patients who are in need of real time real personal interaction  and focused follow up. The patient  may need a reason to see the trial through completion or to “take as directed” the actions or medications to improve efficacy as well as accuracy.

The potential for widespread health breakthroughs with the Dr. Chatbot concept comes from the underlying technologies of machine learning and artificial intelligence.  Newer studies are showing that there are predictors of disease that show up statistically before any one human doctor is likely to reach the diagnosis. The ability to provide an alert to a physician and do the high end mathematical permutations that lead to better and earlier interventions holds tremendous potential. But it will be the user/patient experience that determines compliance. I hope the tech people creating these machine driven interfaces pay particular attention to the human experience (or user experience -as the new discipline is called). Jeff Pulver has called for a move away from the term Chatbot to the more hip, creative and human like Botnik.

Indeed, we need to think of them as Jeff does, ““Botniks are creative, artistic, & rebellious just like the Beatniks” The time is right. There is a shift in thinking from what might work to how elegantly we can begin to deploy the tools. We have entered an era of intense focus on AI, machine learning and robotics and the best winners in this emerging category will be those that enhance the human experience.

Full disclosure: I am a cheerleader for and investor in Hawthorne Effect. I am betting that the human creative can direct the machine and not the other way around.