There is a never-ending procession of talks at Cannes. It is raining words—most of them well-known, worn-out, industry buzzwords. It’s all something we’ve heard, somewhere before.
But sometimes, something really fresh and original pops up. More often than not, it comes from industry outsiders. Yesterday, Dentsu Lab Tokyo hosted a talk with Brian Eno, legendary musician and producer, and member of the glam rock band Roxy Music. While discussing some of the cutting-edge projects he’s currently involved in, he said something really profound:
Along with artificial intelligence we need artificial stupidity…
It’s a brilliant observation. The human race owes as much of its progress to our inherent stupidity as it does to our collective mind. We do stupid things. And sometimes there is a sheer brilliance coming out of that which propels us forward.
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The digital world we are living in is all about perfection. We can listen to perfectly recorded music with amazing clarity. We can produce perfectly saturated photographs of our children, pets and ourselves. And yet we hate it. We destroy that cold, digital perfection with all kinds of artefacts; from the old, analogue world that is making music noisy again to photos that are intentionally blurred and enhanced with weird coloured filters.
In the world close to Eno’s heart, he can’t stand the perfectly timed play of drum machines. Long ago, inventors had to introduce an option that allowed these bots to play out of time ever so slightly, in order to better mimic human drummers.
Essentially, what Eno is saying is that in the future, when most aspects of our life will be augmented by artificial intelligence, helping us with its ruthless efficiency and perfection, we would need some kind of a knob or button that would let us inject small doses of stupidity into the AI’s otherwise perfectly rational and logical acts. Only then would we retain the very human ability to progress through stupidity.
Remember Spock? He became truly human only when he stepped out of the boundaries of his logical mind and embraced stupidity (driven by emotion). And indeed, it is likely to be the same with the digital future that is looming ahead of us. As we strive to perfect imperfection, we should not forget to also imperfect perfection.
Maciek Nowicki is chief creative officer, South and Southeast Asia, at Isobar. Follow Isobar's Cannes Lions conversation on Twitter @Isobar #CreativeXDigital.