I read a recent CNBC article about Facebook’s plans to use AI to offer a new service that they described as “the natural evolution from product recommendations to predictive shipping.” This invention (similar to a previous one announced by Amazon) is based on the assumption that systems can get so accurate at identifying products someone will want to buy that it makes sense to automatically jump to the next step and ship those items right to your door step.
As I get older, I am certain of fewer things... But one thing I know for sure is that people want to be in control of their lives. We want to control how we spend our time, how we spend our money and who has access to our personal information (are you hearing me, Facebook?).
While a good portion of my shopping may simply be the replenishment of staples (items that go in my cart with no debate or decision-making), I will always want to be the one who, in the end, makes those mundane choices.
How much more frustrating will it be to have an AI attempting to spend my money on items I didn’t want and then forcing me to coordinate the returns. Even if half those items did actually appeal to me, I’ll only remember feeling violated by the other products forced into my mailbox without my permission.
In my two decades studying human behavior, I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that this service will create happier or more loyal customers. People want companies to make choices easier, not to make choices for them. There's a good idea at the core of this invention but it still needs work.
Thanks, but no thanks, Facebook! I'll stick to my "buy now" buttons and helpful chats with my friends Alexa and Siri.
Does anyone disagree? Would you be excited to see this mystery box appear? Would you see this as brilliant AI or would you suspect that some brand's marketing budget influenced what you received? Let me know (email@example.com)... I'd love to hear what you think!