What do you get when combine cloning with robotic artificial intelligence? Or, the flip side, what do you get when combine robotics with the ability the create clones of existing individuals? Either direction you wish to set your Smart Car upon, the destination one day will perhaps be the same. Our future is in our past. I got this idea about the future of marketing, advertising and sales one day while watching that insurance commercial with the girl who’s wearing the big tricked-out name tag. And it set me to thinking about the Geico cavemen and the Maytag repairman and the mustachioed fellow who used to assault innocent visitors to the grocery store and felt compelled to squeeze toilet paper.
There is an implicit assumption that enters deep into our subconscious when we watch a television commercial with spokesman (whether fictional or real-life) that there is a connection between the advertising and the reality. Obviously, nobody really expects to be sold their advertisement by the red-lipped girl with the big tricked-out name tag or by cavemen, but our dealings with these companies are constructed upon a familiarity based in part on the corporate spokesman. Many businesses realize this truth and exploit it by decorating their offices or places of business in a way that reflect their spokesmen.
But what if the salespeople or customer service people themselves were actual representations of those advertising spokespersons? What if when you arrived at the Progressive Insurance office you were greeted or even sold insurance by a girl who looked and acted just like Flo from the commercial? Or what if the guys at the car showroom weren’t bloodsucking freaks from the seventh circle of hell but instead looked like Brad Pitt or Jennifer Connelly? Could such a strange thing ever take place?
The question would be one of ethics if we’re talking clones. Could you actually create an army of cloned Flo the Progressive Insurance checkout girls or Geico cavemen and then insert some kind of artificial intelligence program to get them to behave in the same way. The android route would seem a less ethically murky place, but how long will companies have to wait before the Japanese get the science of robotics to the level where they could create genuinely human-like machines that could realistically recreate the characteristics of an advertising spokesman?
Eventually, there is little doubt that some kind of representative of an advertising spokesperson will wind up in offices and stores around the world. The precedent was set along by the multitudes of Ronald McDonald’s that show up at the Golden Arches around the world. Even if the future of robotic or cloned advertising spokesman will not be one of having an army of salesman (and the distant future is almost doubtlessly going to be wind up being exactly that) there is certainly the expectation that companies will exploit the potential for making the connection between the customer and the spokesman and the company even more profound.