Friday, June 22, 2018

"Personalisation is Asymmetric Psychological Warfare"

I believe I shall purloin the term "Uncanny Valley of Sincerity".

From Terence Eden's Blog:
Another privacy nightmare. An airline wants its cabin crew to know your birthday and favourite drinks order, to better personalise its service to you.
My first instinct is to recoil in horror. It sounds like every dystopian sci-fi epic.

But why do I feel this way? Partly it is the lack of genuine personality behind the interaction. It is the Uncanny Valley of sincerity. When Facebook wishes you happy birthday, it is a purely mechanical response - not an outpouring of genuine feeling.

There's also the issue of why they do this. At a base level, it is money. They want you to feel a positive association with their "brand" so that you will spend money with them.

They are hijacking your emotions. Nothing new here - the half-naked woman on a billboard trying to get you to buy car insurance, the catchy pop-song designed to make you pick one brand of cola over another, the ruggedly handsome man telling you how white your shirts can be...

But in the airline example, there is a sinister asymmetry. They know everything about you - and you know nothing about them.

Let's correct that.

Imagine as you get on the plane you smile at the pilot, glance at your phone, and say "Hope this landing is smoother than your last few, Sandra! Still, you should be fine as you only had two gin-and-tonics last night."

As the cabin crew serves you a drink "Dave! Can I get more peanuts? I know you're on your final warning from HR - and I'd hate for someone to put in another complaint."...