can robots tell stories?


I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about automation and artificial intelligence, or if you want to sound cool, “AI”. This is an idea that is often skimmed over in mainstream outlets, but it is going to be the single most disruptive innovation in the next decade. It is fascinating stuff, and a tough concept to wrap my head around.

Before I dig in, watch the video below with the little girl that meets a “robot.” It’s short.



We often think about the rise of automation in production (making widgets), extraction (harvesting resources), services (robot calls), warfare (drones), warehousing (Amazon), homes (Alexa), transportation (self-driving cars) and the list goes on. A savvy tech company here in Bend posted an article about how businesses, especially tech businesses, need to look hard at the future of automation and AI because it is closer than we previously thought. Meaning, software developers and programmers will be replaced by machines. Automation spreads its sticky fingers into everything – almost.

In what sector are humans NOT going to be replaced by rapid automation or artificial intelligence?


As my friend put it, the Liberal Arts Degree is finally getting its day in the sun. Or like sometimes when I’m trying to get information from my husband and I have to remind him to “use your words.” Words do matter, as do stories, dialogue and the generation and sharing of ideas and with the rise of automation, stories will explode into our world even more brilliantly as the way in which we connect with each other.


We tell ourselves stories in order to live. –Joan Didion


In the context of selling, storytelling is a buzzword. Marketing and advertising folks have been throwing this around for the last decade. Be careful, though. Story telling is more than 140 character Tweet, or a tagline or a web landing page. It is carefully crafted honesty that allows us to make sense of large ideas or concepts.

Stories Connect Us

We all want to be a part of something. Why do I buy Patagonia products, even though they are always more expensive than other outdoor soft goods? I want to be connected to their story – one of ethics, change-making, sustainability, and transparency. Patagonia doesn’t just weave storytelling into their brand. Patagonia IS the story. They don’t make rain jackets and stand-up shorts (remember those?), they are saving the planet by insisting on a sustainable supply chain and processes. As a side note, they sell kick ass clothing.

Stories Make Us Dig Deep – and Buy The Most Expensive Cooler on the Planet

I was in a meeting recently where the conversation turned towards brand building, and Yeti Coolers came up. Who would have thought that someday it would be cool to put a sticker from an ice box brand on your car or wear a hat with a logo of a cooler brand – like, say Igloo. I grew up with Igloo coolers at the beach. They were literally a household item in the day. Now, living in the most affected outdoor town possible, I can say that I’ve never seen an Igloo sticker, hat or t-shirt. YETI on the other hand, has built a brand around stories. Let’s review. They sell a $1300 cooler. And they do it because they tell some of the most enchanting stories about ski bums, ranchers, professional meat smokers, river guides and baseball players.

Stories Keep Us Honest

No one wants to be told something is “great”, “tremendous”, or “the best.” We are all getting duped when we hear this. We increasingly seek the truth and stories allow us to make the connection between cause and effect. When we hear a good story, our brain scans through it to make sure we don’t miss anything that is of particular importance. We also seek to relate stories to our own existing experiences, making us pause and reflect upon our own reality.

As we face the future of automation, machines, robots and algorithms, remember that only humans can tell stories. How can you tell your story?

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