Skip to main content

The Dual Nature of AI: Insights from South by Southwest

Last week, the vibrant city of Austin, Texas, became a buzzing hub for tech enthusiasts, innovators, and thinkers at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. One of the most riveting discussions revolved around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its omnipresence in our lives. The festival posed an intriguing question: Is AI akin to oxygen, an essential, life-sustaining force, or is it more like fire, a powerful but potentially destructive element?

YouTube video

The Dual Nature of AI

Deepak Chopra once likened AI to oxygen, highlighting its seamless integration into our daily lives, rejuvenating and powering every facet of our existence. Meanwhile, Alphabet’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, compared AI’s impact to that of fire and electricity combined, acknowledging its transformative yet potentially hazardous nature. This duality sparked a compelling debate at SXSW.

One session that caught attendees’ attention was titled “AI Isn’t Coming for Your Job, But Those Using It Will.” It underscored the reality that while AI itself might not replace human jobs, those who leverage AI effectively could outpace their peers. This sentiment resonates with many, especially in fields requiring creativity and innovation, where the adoption of AI could mean the difference between staying relevant and becoming obsolete.

Panelists at the festival, including a spokesperson from Lippincott, highlighted the staggering $16 trillion expected to be invested in AI by 2030. This colossal figure underscores the transformative potential of AI across industries. Another key takeaway was the analogy of data as the new gold, emphasizing the value of high-quality, error-free data in the age of AI.

Samsung’s Blake Gaer shared insights into how the tech giant is harnessing AI to create frictionless user experiences, making technology’s complexities invisible to the end-user. This approach hints at a future where AI’s presence is so integrated that it’s indistinguishable from magic.

A poignant question from the audience about the role of AI in job seeking led to a broader discussion about the importance of understanding and utilizing AI in today’s job market. Whether it’s conducting company research or innovating within one’s role, the consensus was clear: engaging with AI is no longer optional.

Companies like NameStormers are leading by example, experimenting with various AI models to enhance creativity and efficiency in branding and naming. This hands-on approach not only demystifies AI but also fosters a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.

The discussions at SXSW ultimately pointed towards a shift from competitive to collaborative advantage. In a world where change is the only constant, sharing knowledge and experiences with AI becomes crucial. This collaborative ethos is poised to define the future landscape of innovation across sectors.

In conclusion, while the debate on whether AI is more like oxygen or fire continues, one thing is certain: its impact is profound and all-encompassing. As we navigate this new era, the key will be to harness AI’s potential responsibly, ensuring it serves as a force for good, fueling creativity, efficiency, and growth. Just like fire needs oxygen to burn, AI requires careful stewardship to unlock its full potential, making it a cornerstone of our future.


Mike Carr (00:01): 

Today I have some exciting observations from South by Southwest, which wrapped up last week in Austin, Texas. And one of the things that was super exciting was AI was everywhere. It was hard to get away from it whether presentations on the exhibition floor, conversations at lunch, dinner, everybody was talking about ai. So the question for you, is AI more like oxygen or is it more like fire? One of the most destructive forces on the planet, especially with the Texas wildfires still burning in northern part of the panhandle of the state. So back in 2017, Deepak at LinkedIn talked about how AI was like oxygen, natural life giving. You don’t even notice it, but you breathe it every second, every minute of every day. It reinvigorates, it powers everything, the planet, the animals, the humans. More recently, the CEO of Alphabet, Sundar Phai talked about how AI could be, could have a more profound effect than fire and electricity combined. 


And fire is a very destructive force, but fire also is a force of energy. It allows you to melt things and create new metals, new alloys. It creates energy which powers the world, the internet. So is AI more like oxygen or is it more like fire and electricity? So one of the sessions at so by Southwest was AI isn’t coming for your job, but those using it will. AI isn’t coming for your job, but those people out there using AI will come after your job. I think that’s a true statement. There are some folks that are skeptics and don’t believe that’s the case, but for most knowledge workers, for most folks like us that practice a craft of naming, of brand, building of creative, we’re in the space where we’re using AI or we’re not using ai, we run the risk of being obsolete. And so it was interesting, some of the comments the panelists made to with Lippencott had a couple really interesting statements. 


One was, nearly $16 trillion will be invested in AI by 20, 30, 16 trillion. That’s enough money to really move the needle. Another statement he made was the terminology around the value of data. Data is the new gold. And just like gold has different levels of purity, so does data, the pure, the gold, the cleaner, the gold, the closer to that 24 carat, the more valuable the gold. And data is the same way. The cleaner your data, the more consistent it is, the fewer errors in it, the more complete it is and the more valuable it’s going to be going forward. One of the other panelists was Blake Gaer from Samsung. He’s the director of smartphone product management, and he has some great comments about how Samsung is using ai. We want the user experience to be so easy and so frictionless that you don’t even know AI is behind the scenes, making a lot of those connections for you. 


Allow those clicks for you. You don’t have to do that anymore, right? That things just almost happen by magic. And that’s paraphrasing what he said, but I think that’s the direction Samsung’s going to want to be having. Now, one of the audience members asked this question, which I thought was a very interesting question. He said, if you’re seeking a job, what do you need to bring to the table when it comes to ai? And Blake had a great answer to that. He said, well, one of the things you could certainly do is use AI to do research on the company, understand their culture, what they’re all about, what you can bring to the table based upon their needs, where they’re going, their products at their services. And then one of the other panelists, and I don’t know if it was Alison SitMan at Shutterstock or Chandra Davis at Expedia, made this observation, which I thought was really interesting. 


She said, you need to be using AI right now in your job to learn it about it, to experiment with it, to try it. And we’re doing that at name stormers. We’ve recently run Claude three against chat GPT-4, and we’re anticipating chap GPT five to be out maybe next month in April, maybe in May, and it’s supposed to be a lot better than four. And we’re benchmarking those against Google’s Gemini. And then you have other variants out there. PI is sort of a fun conversational AI driven tool. And using these things and experimenting with these and trying these almost on a daily basis, you learn how to navigate. You learn how to prompt them and how to iterate through and get new ideas, fresh ideas, new insights, new paths to take. When it comes to naming, when it comes to research, when it comes to evaluate, how might a particular target react to a name? 


What might the name mean in particular languages? Are there issues with the name from a legal trademark infringement standpoint? All these issues are that AI can help you start to address. And yeah, you need to be aware of hallucination. But the takeaway from all these panelists was in the past, it’s all been about competitive advantage. In the future, it’s going to be about collaborative advantage. That is because of the pace of change, because of all the new cool things AI is bringing to the table. No one has all the answers, right? No one knows the best solution. And even if they do, it’s going to be different the next day. So collaborating, experimenting, using it on a daily basis, talking to other folks, seems to be the key path forward for AI in naming, in branding, in strategy work, and probably in a lot of the things that you do. 


So in conclusion, is AI more like oxygen or is it more like fire? We believe it’s more like oxygen. You’ll breathe it in constantly throughout the day. You won’t even notice it, but it will fuel your thinking. It will fuel your creativity. It’ll make you more efficient. It will streamline everything you do. But what does fire need to actually exist? So you need to be careful with ai. You need to use it the right way. You need to always be concerned about safety and confidentiality, but use properly. We’re so excited about the potential that AI has to offer us our clients. And you too. 


Don't miss any blog posts!

Sign up to be notified of new content on our site.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.