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The human being is a tribal creature. We operate as a ‘we’ far more reliably than we operate as an ‘I’, and our compulsion for conformity is consistently stronger than our impulse towards individuality. This revelation has been key to the last century of psychological findings, and offers vital insight to the social and trends of our day – and how we might influence them.

Intuitively, we all know we operate as a group. Anyone who has been caught up in the energy of a sports match or immersed in the atmosphere of a concert has witnessed firsthand the striking power of the herd. The group’s influence on the individual has been proved over and over in psychological studies, often to rather comical effects.

Creatives are at a crossroads.

A few months ago, a letter signed by over eight-thousand authors made the news as it asked the leaders of companies like Microsoft and Meta not to train their AI systems on the authors’ work without consent or compensation. Published by the Author’s Guild and signed by names like Margaret Atwood and James Patterson, the letter made the case that real authors have worked to produce the intellectual property which is being used to feed the AI, and should be appropriately compensated.[1]

Technology often advances faster than the infrastructure and regulations needed to support it. As AI tools have proliferated exponentially over the past year, the legal issues of intellectual property, copyright and plagiarism have only become more complex. As big companies are profiting of the creative work of people who have spent decades committed to their craft, the ethical injustices are clear.

Can you explain the difference between ‘used cars’ and ‘pre-owned vehicles’? What about ‘wire tapping’ and ‘electronic intercepts’? Or ‘impotence’ and ‘erectile dysfunction’?[1]

The difference? Semantics!

We all like to believe we put our mind over matter. Overall, we are rational agents with free will who have control over our bodies, impulses and sensations. However, more and more studies are emerging that prove this belief to be far from the truth.

Researchers across disciplines and cultures are showing that our bodies are far more involved in our thinking than we like to believe. Our cognitive processes are embedded in a system that involves various parts of the rest of our body, from our heart to our gut.

Earlier this year, a cereal brand faked a whole set of endorsements and got away with it. The reason? They explicitly stated so, right beneath the pretend endorsement. UK cereal brand Surreal’s campaign featured a whole series of ads which all read along the lines of:

“Serena Williams* eats our cereal.

*She is a student from London and we paid her to eat it but the point still stands.”

Each statement came with an asterisk, leading the eye to the ‘fine print’ beneath the endorsement which acknowledged that it wasn’t actually the celebrity who gave the endorsement, but a random individual with the same name that they had paid for the glowing report. [1] The campaign went viral across social media, with the public appreciating the ironic humour and sarcastic self-deprecation.

Since the advent of ChatGPT last year, few things have dominated the public discussion in the tech and business world more than generative AI and chatting with robots. This comes as no surprise considering how genuinely revolutionary the technology is and radically fast the uptake has been within the public.

Comparing ChatGPT’s success to other major companies gives some indication of how monumental it has been. Within 5 days it had reached 5 million users – for Netflix, acquiring this customer base took 3.5 years.

However, ChatGPT is not even the tip of the iceberg when compared what else is out there and what else there is to come. There are over 11,000 AI apps built on language models like ChatGPT, which successfully achieve tasks all the way from planning logistics to creating artworks.

But beyond ChatGPT, AI is already serving us across many arenas of life, all the way from serving as a round-the-clock doctor to keeping online customers happy customers.

Columbia University economics professor Joseph Stiglitz once said, “It is trust, more than money, that makes the world go around.”[1] While this has, perhaps, always been true, it will truer than ever in the coming decade.

Whether in our personal relationships or our interactions with big brands and institutions, trust is the foundation of loyalty, engagement and affinity - and this foundation has taken a pounding in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this environment, building trust is more difficult than ever – but it’s also more important. According to the recent Trends in Customer Trust report released by Salesforce Research, 95% of customers are more likely to be loyal to a company they trust while 92% are more likely to purchase additional products and services from trusted businesses.[2]

Downturns and hard times are often perceived as a curse in business. When market share dwindles, sales dry up and nothing seems to be going your way, leaders often long for the former glory days of growth and prosperity. However, in the same way that nature has seasons, industries have cycles that serve an important purpose. The key to surviving, thriving and achieving enduring relevance in the long-term is to work with rather than war against seasons and cycles – especially the adverse ones.

We often think of the world of farming and agriculture as the antithesis of the technological hubs of places like Silicone Valley. Our urban Internet of Things feels worlds away from the earthier environments that keep our people fed and our societies functioning. It’s easy to forget that one of the industries where tech innovation is hitting the ground most effectively is agriculture.

Agricultural technology, or ‘agtech’, is moving just as quickly as the technology in other industries, and is significantly improving the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of farming. Significantly, agtech is boosting precision agriciulture which is based on precise monitoring and measurement of the environment and aims to maximise farm outputs. Particularly as concerns grow surrounding food wastage and the health of our environments, the sensors, drones and autonomous technology now being used on farms are providing solutions that are both effective and timely for farmers.[1]

Robo-farmers aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

The annuls of history make it very clear that power has generally belonged to organizations – from religious institutions to government bureaucracies and corporate behemoths. There have certainly been various ‘Davids’ who have stood up to their respective Goliaths and managed to temporarily upset the status quo and gain an upper hand. But these cases were exceptional in every sense of the word – most of the time, the individual lacked the power.

Today, the opposite is true. Recent years have seen the balance of power shift rapidly away from organizations and to the individual. There are 3 tools of empowerment that cannot be underestimated by leaders and organizations aiming to build trust in the years ahead.

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