As he publishes The New Age of kitsch. Essay on the civilization of excess (Gallimard, 464 pages, 26 euros), the philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky rejects the apocalyptic vision of a manipulative artificial intelligence.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, brands and advertisers have the ability to send more personalized messages. Is it manipulation?
Let’s be clear: it is actually seduction operations. And seduction is not always manipulation. With algorithms and the system of individualized recommendations, marketing has a growing power of intrusion and prediction, but the consumer does not lose all subjective autonomy and can also benefit from it.
If Netflix’s algorithms give me a range of choices based on my preferences – for example comedies or spy movies – then that’s what I want. How is this “totalitarian”? Isn’t consumption for the purpose of pleasure and satisfaction? The use of artificial intelligence will intensify the pressure on consumers to make them consume. But let’s not demonize this aspect: consumer choices do not concern the whole of life and it is illusory to believe that big data has the power to fully control demand.
However, doesn’t advertising have “citizen” consequences?
The question is not new and has even accompanied the entire XXe century, each time gaining in intensity. Between the two wars, the advertising posters plastered in the street were castigated because they were unsightly. Then, in May-68, the protest escalated when consumption was perceived as a tragic mode of alienation where man lost his individual authenticity, his freedom of thought.
But with the climate crisis, environmental criticism has taken a radical step by presenting consumption as anti-citizen…
Indeed, in the face of the drama of the extinction of species, climatic catastrophes, the fact of consuming is stigmatized as a “criminal” activity, potentially apocalyptic… But making the consumer feel guilty is ineffective.
How do you decipher, from a philosophical point of view, the rise of AI, which stimulates this consumption?
Because AI appropriates what was thought to be unique to man (intelligence, creation, art), it will offer more and more “possibilities” of unheard-of images, improbable, stunning advertising spots like that of La Laitière and especially Coca-Cola, which looks almost like a little science fiction film… It will undoubtedly be an agent of hyperaesthetization and kitsch singularization of advertising.
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