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Oct 7, 2020    Burn Book

When the World’s Values Statements Are See-Through


In all the scary robot movies, the problem is that the technology gets ahead of us, right? Machines become smarter than the people programming them and, as a result, fight back. Cue downfall of humanity.

And in a way, this has come to fruition, depending on how you look at it.

If “surpassing humans” means computing in a way faster than the human brain, well yeah, that happened pretty fast and continues to happen in 2020 in brand new ways. But they’re not “after us” yet. There are no malicious machines plotting a takeover. That urge to rule more and more things over more and more space seems to be a strictly human hobby.

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t fallen behind as the humans making the technology. Let me explain.

It’s not really a plot twist that we are bringing the doom upon ourselves, right?

A very fast, very volatile threat to humans today is the great accessibility to misinformation. There are some demographics without the means or experience to decipher what is real, what is not, what is propaganda, and how to find out based on researching sources and stakeholders. This is not technology surpassing humans, but rather some sources purposefully spreading misleading or manipulative information for their own interests. And if we are to fight the humans using technology manipulatively, we must use technology to do so. Tech, technically, has to catch up to us and how we’ve chosen to utilize it.

At this very point in time, humans have taken over information access to such an extreme that it, in many instances, is no longer a tool for all. It is only a tool for those with the resources to spread whichever “information” suits them best.

This means we need free-thinking entrepreneurs, startups, underdogs who will make technology catch up.

Writer is one startup attempting to make technology catch up to us (for us). They’ve essentially created a much smarter, much more impactful version of good ole Clippy, the Microsoft Office Assistant buddy that helped humans navigate the software. Or, if that’s too nostalgic for you, it’s like a version of Grammarly whose expertise lies beyond grammar, in the realms of connotation and nuance.

Basically, Writer, which was founded in the s—show year that is 2020, follows along with your writing and will tell you when something you wrote is outdated, loaded, or has a connotation that could derail your whole point.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Letting technology dictate what words we use and not use sounds like we’d be going backwards. But let’s think less about how this technology would “control” us and more about how the access to it would raise standards.

In the generational consumer profile, it has never been more important (or a hot-button issue) that your brand state–and prove– what they stand for and what they stand against in terms of social issues. This is already the case– REI garners so much loyalty because of their dedication to environmental preservation. Nike uses storytelling (and their money) pretty well to support the social causes people care about. And every major brand has, at some point or another, been called out (usually on social media) for not sticking to their promises. It is this accountability that drives brands to make good change. It is a form of call-out culture, or cancel culture, yes, but it’s an entire way the two youngest generations make their buying decisions.

So if a company puts out a statement or even a Tweet that, say, uses an outdated or insensitive term to describe a person, place, or practice, it can be a massive issue for their public relations agency. Crisis management then puts out an apology and statement and picks up the pieces, ready to see how much business or loyalty they may have just lost. Whether it was a genuine misstep or a problematic belief that they realized they need to backpedal on, it affects business.

But what if they had Writer? They could avoid that, yes? More importantly– what if the public knows they have Writer, or access to it (and who wouldn’t)? Suddenly, backpedaling becomes much more difficult. Fewer people will believe something was just a mistake– because it is so easy not to make that mistake now that we have tech that keeps us educated on nuanced social changes.

Now suddenly, not only are brands and businesses doing better by the world because their consumers demand it. But they are also outed if they truly do not fall in line with what their consumers demand. This new tech would virtually eliminate their ability to claim ignorance or innocence. And they must either fall in line (change leadership and public opinion) to keep the two youngest and biggest consumer demographics, or accept that they may need to only appeal to those with like opinions- even if that’s not the biggest consumer demographic.

Business hasn’t been simple for a long time, and it has always been survival of the fittest, even if the meaning of “fittest” changes.

In the end, there would be more truth, and those that appeal to consumers on deeper social fronts would be the ones that succeed.

That truth is what we need. We need humans to catch up to tech, yes (learning to discern what is information and what is misinformation or misleading), but more realistically, we need tech to catch up to humans, and help us in communication.


I won’t argue that some brands won’t employ software like Writer just to be doing the bare minimum even when they don’t hold the same beliefs as their consumers. Some will. Many will, most likely. But a business is never consistent, converting, and building loyalty with just its Tweets and PR statements. It is a business’ whole branding strategy, whole intangible “vibe” that will get them to the top. And when a business’ vibe has small inconsistencies, people notice. When a CEO’s actions don’t match their brand’s statements, or employee accounts of company culture don’t reflect what the company itself says, people notice. And no one wants to be loyal to someone that seems like they have something to hide.

Making technology catch up for us can ultimately lead to more truth in our buying decisions– more “being real with people” no matter which side of the social issues you stand on. Consistency will bring conversion and loyalty. And truth is what brings consistency. We need tech that fosters more truth, and more companies staying real.

Because, as it turns out, the downfall of humanity isn’t due to technology getting smarter than us, it’s due to us falling behind on making the exact technology we need to succeed.

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