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  • Writer's pictureShari Stein

Super Bowl Commercials Inspire

What did you “take away” from Super Bowl LIII? I might normally answer that question with the usual: a stomach ache from all of the irresistible snacks or a hoarse voice from all of the chatting. However, this year, I feel most satisfied with this take-away- solidarity with Pringles and Turbot Tax.

They entertained us with commercials that also illustrate how AI is just that, artificial.

We could spend hours analyzing the virtual assistant’s sadness in Pringles' Sad Device Commercial. What is the message? It goes beyond what she shares, that “sadly” she’ll “never feel joy” because she does not have hands, a mouth or soul. The commercial is not about the boys’ ignoring her, it is more about the funky, digital world in which we live. The question is, how can we live our best lives, given all of our boundless technology?

The answer is amplified by the Robo Child’s laughter in TurboTax Live 2019 Super Bowl Commercial. If we humans are unable to “perfect emotion,” why would we want our digital devices to do so? We explore and try to understand emotion. We try to deal with our emotions as well as that of our family, friends, colleagues, etc. The Robo Child is told that s/he will “never be emotionally complex enough.” That is true and very important to remember about our online experiences. As much as we do embrace our constantly evolving technology, we should embrace our unique emotional complexity.

The truth is that we, humans, do need to work on our own emotional intelligence. Fortunately, we have the reassurance that, as humans, we have the capacity to work on (not perfect) this. There are thousands of books, programs and experts who purport to help us do just this. Currently, in schools, there is a trend to help our students develop their SEL: Social, Emotional Learning. One of the goals of The DIG Program is to foster the same positive character traits and emotions, including empathy, responsibility, communication. This is all very positive and part of a very human process. It is not aided or replaced by AI, virtual assistants or any other technology.

Back to the Super Bowl take-away. For me, it is inspiration to continue the conversation that these commercials so vividly elucidate. Serendipitously, I have plans to hear Douglas Rushkoff and Naomi Klein’s conversation tonight. I am eager to learn more about Rushkoff’s examination of the “dynamics of this anti-human machinery.”

And, tomorrow, when 120 freshmen come into the high school library for a lesson on digital citizenship, I plan to explore this topic with them. I am going to start the very valuable lesson that I had planned by adding this this timely and engaging conversation. We will watch the commercials together and start a discussion about what it means to be human during this Digital Revolution.


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