Chris Duffey’s new book explores the possibilities of artificial intelligence for the future of humanity – with a twist. The head of strategic developments for Adobe’s Creative Cloud and a well-known global speaker, Duffey came up with a unique approach for Superhuman Innovation: framing it as a series of dialogues with his own “conversational AI agent”, Aimé.
The back-and-forth between man and machine explores the ways in which AI can impact business and brand innovation, and how it might help us all to become more productive and efficient than ever before.
But how did the process of creating “the world’s first book about AI, created with the help of AI” actually work? And what can the publishing industry learn from his insights? We sat down with Duffey to explore his vision of how AI might ‘up-level’ books.
How did you use AI to write the book?
Superhuman Innovation is grounded on the theory “Don’t tell me about AI, but rather show me”. Based on this belief, I compiled an ensemble of AI technologies to be an AI assistant in helping write the book.
Aimé is not a single technology but rather a suite of technologies, many of which are open source, each building on a different set of concepts, approaches and infrastructures - including Natural Language Processing (NLP), Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) APIs. These techniques allow Aimé to identify, understand and respond to key words, phrases, ideas and requests, and to show instances of recognition and understanding of experiences and reasoning.
Aimé was used throughout this book and was invaluable for everything from ideation, writing and research capacities. There was also an emotional component to her assistance that there was a sense of peace of mind to know that she was there as a resource and source of inspiration.
Do you think it truly made it into a better book?
There is no doubt we are now entering the connected age fueled by AI and voice assistant interaction. The question now is how will businesses, society and individuals chose to leverage AI to be an amplifier of their human ability at scale. Using AI to help co-create Superhuman Innovation positively influenced its effectiveness and efficiency, as well as well provided a sense of empowerment and sparks of experimentation.
In terms of effectiveness, by leveraging historical and contextual data and native signals, the AI system was able to interpret patterns and make suggestions on what content was most relevant and would resonate most effectively. As for efficiency, by utilising AI I was able to get to starting points quicker with the system’s ability to automate and predict a number of tasks and content suggestions/needs.
In terms of experimentation, quite often Aimé would respond with an output that was completely unexpected which took the conversation and thinking to a whole new direction. For example, sentiment analysis often provided new perspectives on certain sections of the conversation such as if a thesis was too one sided, overly positive, somewhat argumentative or tonally off. This process of using AI to help write Superhuman Innovation was ultimately about de-mystifying AI and showcasing its potential as a co-creation tool for speed and scale.
How do you think AI has the potential to ‘up-level’ books?
When it comes to the publishing industry, AI can help along the entire continuum: resource and validate research, help identify patterns in plot lines, better understand geo- and demographic sales data. The list could go on and on. However, human-centered AI is key; it’s important to remember AI is not a replacement for human imagination. It’s a tool, not the output.
The book trade relies heavily on human instinct and curation. How can publishers balance that USP with the opportunities afforded by AI?
A “human in the loop” approach ensures AI is not inadvertently working against us, rather it’s here to amplify us. There are some recent reports that the flow of data is now more valuable than the sale of all products combined. This “big data” opportunity is ushering in a landscape where companies that combine the “art & science” will have competitive advantage, because they are more intelligently addressing and answering their customer’s needs. Ultimately, it’s not what AI can create; rather it’s what humans can create with AI. And it’s this notion of collective intelligence when combined with creativity that can be used as a flywheel for business invention.
There is an ongoing debate if AI can or will ever truly be able to ideate and be inspired on its own. There is a spectrum of viewpoints; the common ground however is that it’s not one or the other (human instinct vs AI systems), rather it is about finding the right balance for the project, organization and industry vertical.
What’s the biggest mistake made when working with AI?
There are literally hundreds of different AI tools and solutions for different problems. The challenge with new emerging technologies such as AI is to put the business strategy first, not the technology first. Yes, we are entering into the fourth industrial revolution of intelligence hyper-¬personalized products that extend our intelligence and capabilities - but we mustn't forget we have to be thoughtful in why we are using AI and how we are implementing it.
How can publishers counteract racial, gender and social biases built into AI?
Because AI is so powerful there are important considerations in its deployment - and complex answers. But if we put humans and their needs first, it’s a foundational start. Technology is neither good nor bad; it depends on how people use it. There need to be organizational, societal and system guardrails to ensure security, privacy and ethics.
What’s the best example of AI you’ve seen used in the publishing industry?
Although AI has been used for a few years now for content creation - such as news reporting by the Associated Press using a system called Automated Insights - leveraging AI to help write this book was quite groundbreaking in many ways. The hope was and is to capture people’s imaginations and show how AI extends our intelligence and capabilities when using AI, as well as how it provides businesses and people with new powers and abilities - now and in the future.
Superhuman Innovation is out now, published by Kogan Page.