The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

It’s Not Very Often You Get To Be At The Start Of Something Incredible …

As many of you know, I love technology.

I also am a huge advocate of talking to people.

Really talking … spending time with them, listening to them, understanding them.

And that’s why I am so happy that I’ve been able to bring both together through a project we’ve being doing at R/GA in London and Tokyo for the last 7 months called Human Technology.

No, I don’t mean the old Nokia saying, I mean literally meeting at the intersection of human curiosity and technological capability.

Over a long period of late nights and long weeks, a group of brilliant colleagues have been developing a new way to talk to people – a way that will allow us to conduct multiple interviews at the same time – enabling, for the first time, to get scalability on the nuance of conversation that I value so highly.

Now I know what you are thinking … this sounds awfully like a focus group and you absolutely, totally, passionately hate focus groups.

And you’d be right … there is a similarity between them.

But the beauty of this is that we are addressing the specific thing I don’t like about the way focus groups are approached.

You see the real issue I have is that focus groups are …. well, focused.

They don’t allow you to understand context … they don’t really care about having an appreciation of the audiences backgrounds or motivations, they just want to get to the answers they need answering.

So it is far less about understanding and far more about efficiency, which means you lose all nuance and authenticity, which is the difference between making work that is resonant with culture and relevant.

OK, it’s not perfect, there has definitely been more than a few occasions where things went a bit weird – similar to the AI Christmas Card experiment we did last year – but I’m over the moon to introduce you to Hans.

Look at him.


He’s good isn’t he.

I admit it has taken a very, very long time to get here.

There has been a lot of mistakes, disasters, frustrations and questioning … but Hans [which stands for Human Android Nuanced Screener] is something we are all super excited about.

It’s all very well saying you want to create a new method for revealing insight and nuance, but it’s a very different matter getting there … and that’s why I’m so proud of the team as we’ve had to explore every single detail to get here.

From how we wanted the AI to behave, to what movements the robotics needed to have to feel as ‘human’ as possible … to his look, feel and sound … all in the quest to replicate the energy and aura of a none-threatening, but constantly interested person.

While there is still stuff to go, I think we’re doing pretty well, as the videos below show in terms of how we went from developing realistic hand movement robotics to building a model that allows for realistic human interactions.

[Excuse the terrible music, we’ve done these as part of film detailing the various stages of the project with one of our partners, Mert Arduino]

Creating The Hand

Creating More Human Interactions

The Different Faces Of Hans

Now the sad truth is we won’t be able to finish this to the level we want on our own.

For all the talent in the building and the network … time, technology and cost are all a hindrance to seeing this through to how we envision it can end up, which is why we are going to open this up to the creative technologists around the World, in the hope they want to be part of this project and see where they can help it go to.

Of course, few will do this without some sort of benefit, which is why I’m so happy to announce that anyone who takes part will have an ownership % so that if the technology takes off, they will directly profit from it.

We will soon be announcing how to get involved – as well as issue all blueprints and coding that we have already created to allow people to quickly add to the project rather than do things that have already been create – or we would if this wasn’t April 1st and a total load of bollocks.

24 Comments so far
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Comment by Bazza

Yes you got me but in my defence, it’s not April 1 here.

Comment by Bazza

Read it again in a few hours. Bet it still gets you. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

Not as good as method planning, but a strong runner up.

Comment by George

Very close second. I could argue it’s equal as method planning had the benefit of being first. This had to work harder to suck me in.

Comment by Pete

Exactly Pete.

I put a lot of effort in this. Though I admit it helped that the “human robots” are actually real and come from the place my Chinese billionaire recently opened up.

Except they don’t ask questions about life or ads, they chat to each other about dreams and reality. Equally as brilliantly mad.

Comment by Rob

Naughty Rob.

Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

Thank you Jem.

Comment by Rob

I was reading this thinking, “how has he kept this quiet for so long?”
Then I started wondering how you had got so far down the line without outside help. So when I read you were asking for external expertise, I got very excited for you.
Then I read the end.
I should have known.

Comment by Pete

I’m so happy. If I can con you guys – even for a second – I may be able to con others too. And yes, there’s no way I would be able to keep this quiet if it was for real. I could keep the robot creation hush, but not my attempt to kill the focus group once and for all. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

so only planners fell for this bollocks. says all you need to know about the fucks.

Comment by andy@cynic

Only idiots who believe what you say would fall for this.

Comment by Billy Whizz

You believed him enough to accept the job. And take the money. Will you be returning this to us?

Comment by George

Not that much to have to pay back.

Comment by Billy Whizz

My disdain for focus groups served me well.

Comment by John

And modelling the robot on you was a giveaway.

Comment by John

I forgot it was April 1st. I didn’t remember until I read the last line of your post.

Comment by Lee Hill

thats because everyday on this blog is april 1.

Comment by andy@cynic

you sad fucking twat. and it failed because i only read the first and last line of your shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

Well the best news is over on LinkedIn – where I posted a link to this post – I’ve had quite a lot of people who, as they did with Method Planning, not read all the post so are going on a rant about how rubbish this is. OK, so with Method Planning I had people saying how innovative it was … but the point is, they’re ranting until I write:

“If you read the last line of the post you may change your opinion”

… to which the comments magically disappear. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

pricks who go to linkedin are even sadder fucks than pricks who read this shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m impressed you had a comment from someone on linkedin who didn’t try to teach you how to make a fortune selling products on amazon.

Comment by Pete

Not bad Campbell. Not bad.

Comment by DH

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