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Interview Series: Gen Z Meets AI #3

Changing Society with Hybrids…?

“Buying clothes is not the only reason I go to vintage clothes stores.”

Nori (pseudonym), who runs his own live events and is familiar with subcultures, made that comment in the interview. It left a deep impression on me.

Two types of ”customer service”

The topic of “What will be replaced by AI in the future and what will not be replaced by AI in the future?” is unavoidable when talking about AI. The sense of what is acceptable is very interesting because it varies greatly according to each person’s environment and past life. Nori, who we interviewed this time, is what we call a subculture guy, and he says that he values communication with his peers in the community the most. During this interview, he talked about his thoughts regarding AI, mainly from the perspective of communication. 

He was working as a cashier at a supermarket, and I had always heard him say that his part-time job was boring and that he wanted to quit. So when I asked him about AI, I suggested that it would be easier if the retail and hospitality sectors replaced human employees with AI. His response to this  was the quote at the beginning of this article. He went to on say:

”At a vintage clothing store, I go there to buy clothes and also to talk to the shopkeepers….I think AI is fine for places where customers tend to get emotional, such as supermarket checkouts.”

He said that the customer service industry can be divided into two areas.One is customer service that emphasizes communication, and the other is customer service consisting of performing simple tasks. A vintage clothing store sales assistant can be said to be an example of the former, while a supermarket cashier falls into the latter category. I think that the role of AI will be very different in each of these categories: ① Customer service that requires communication ② Customer service as a task.In fact, my personal feeling is that convenience store clerks could be replaced by AI, but I would feel lonely if the service at Starbucks were to be provided by AI.

Is work about efficiency or communication?

 On the topic of what he thinks about bosses and subordinates being replaced by AI, Nori looked a little confused and pondered the question for a while before saying, “I think it’s a good idea.” He added “Some companies’ work is already being done by AI…. but I don’t think it makes much sense in a relationship where interpersonal communication is important.”

Taking this point of view into consideration, I think that the way we think about AI replacements will depend on what we want from our work relationships with our bosses and subordinates. There are two main points to consider: the importance of  “efficiency in work” as it applies to the relationships between bosses and subordinates, and also “relationships built on communication”. Nori believes that for better or worse it is good that there are individual differences between people. His idea is that the best way to introduce AI (to improve business efficiency, as well as to emphasize communication at work) is to have a hybrid system that does not use AI for everything, thus allowing individual strengths of employees to be taken into account and used effectively. .

The robot he wants.

Nori said that he wanted a small-sized AI device that would support him in all aspects of his life. He drew a wearable AI that is of a very compact design because of his desire for AI to be like his secretary and to streamline his daily life.

Ideal society

The most distinctive aspect of the ideal society that Nori has drawn for us is that the society is not completely modernized and inorganic, as indicated by the large park in the picture. Moreover, we can see that technology is effectively supporting human life and activities in the form of, for example, automated driving and the absence of electric wires in this picture.

As a human supporter

“I don’t think AI or robots should be in a position above humans.”

When asked about the status of AI/robots relative to humans, he replied that he wanted AI to be in a position to support people’s lives smoothly. Looking again at the picture of the AI and ideal society above, I felt that Nori’s idea of wanting AI to be  supportive was clearly reflected in his drawing.

His dream is to be a “content director.” There would be no restrictions on the content, and he wants to create content that would be useful to people and create significant cultural impact. Nori has this idea about professions which require creative abilities:

“I think AI can do this kind of work to a certain extent, but I also think that there are things that only people can create.”

We need to find a future where people and AI can coexist in harmony, where AI is the center and humans are not in the position of support.