The Human Factor
In order to draw a crowd, or more specifically sell a product/idea, the creator seems to need to link the product with some type of connection to people. In the creative world, we tend to go beyond to just appealing to our sense of “betterment”. Our sense of “betterment” would be something that makes us faster, smarter, stronger, or more gorgeous to others. This seems to be just the beginning, appeal to the self. To really reach an audience, we are reaching deep to connect on a more basic level. We need you to care, the human factor.
Advertisers are no longer satisfied with just comparing their product with others in similar capacities. They are taking that white smile and showing how it will affect your relationships, your work and your health. Beer is no longer just a cooling beverage. It is about the bond you have for your puppy and if you care for your puppy you will care for this beer.
How about if that puppy can talk and share how it is feeling? Mr. Ed, “The Talking Horse”, was released in 1958 with a well received audience. In my opinion, Mr. Ed was a human from a horse’s perspective as much as we humans could ascertain that perspective. He was very popular. Just think about some of your favorite characters over time. What about even King Kong hanging onto the Empire State Building. I was in the group who was worried about King Kong and wanted them to stop shooting at him, we cared.
Science Fiction and Fantasy have relied upon the human factor for ages. How else can they get their audiences to accept these alien cultures and characters as being worthwhile of our attention. Now, granted, the majority of them have many human physical features such as faces and limbs. We have characters such as Chewbacca who is a member of a culture that has a history of its own. And,even though the developers are replacing the story line, for those of us who have read all the stories, I still cried when Chewbacca died! Chewbacca is a more concrete example. More recently, human feelings were animated with human features and characteristics. The amazing part is that we, the audience, found ourselves caring for the “feeling” characters almost more than the humans they were representing. Who wouldn’t want Sadness to be better?
Where we seem to be ambivalent is in the area of technology. We are willing to accept many things for technology to assume human characteristics and emotions as well as humans caring for characters of technology. I do not believe the “Terminator” stories would have been so successful without the human factor. Interestingly enough, in order for more “successful” terminators to conquer, they had to be less human. We even have more positive responses to “Iron Man” because the more human like responses from the mechanical arms in Stark’s lab and his interactions with them. Of course we have all those robots we love such as “R2D2, C-3PO, Number 5 is alive, etc.”. Most of these robots were thinking on their own, problem solving and displaying feelings, just the characteristics to solicit our caring.
For some reason we do not think that those lovable robots are examples of artificial intelligence even though they are thinking and problem solving. They are still subject to the whims of the humans for being “wiped”. Not sure if that is it, but a possibility. After all, the robots do seem to care for their human counterparts as well as each other. I have no claim to have researched or read the developments of artificial intelligence. I just know in our products/ideas we struggle to define the lines of humanity and machine. We seem to want to make artificial intelligence characters the most humanlike yet depict them with the least emotions and connections. I think of these characters as sociopaths, humans without empathy or conscience. Sociopaths are depicted as our most feared criminals as they do not seem to be able to be influenced or redeemed. Often their own behavior is self destructive in the long run. They simply do not care, no or minimal human factor. This seems to be where we are mostly stuck with artificial intelligence characters which is often why they seem to be so frightening. We want them to care so that we can care to capitalize on the human factor.