Is ‘made by humans’ more appealing than ‘made by AI?’

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Halfway through a podcast, a high-energy commercial emits all the benefits of using a particular language learning system. They are familiar: Babbel can get you up and running in just three weeks, it teaches you phrases that you will actually use in the real world, the lessons are designed to help you remember.

Then a less familiar selling point:

“Other learning apps use AI for their lesson plans, by Babbel the lessons were created by over 100 language experts.”

The company’s magazine website explains in more detail,

“Babbel’s lessons are not the result of an algorithm or a computer program; they are designed by real humans. Babbel’s educational team, made up of more than 100 linguists and linguistic experts, devote a lot of time and attention to creating lessons that will actually work for you.

BABBEL MAGAZINE

This framing of human input as a sort of quality standard is nothing new – in this case, the online article was published in 2017 – but it is becoming more prevalent.

A quick sweep surfaces recruitment startup that strongly advocates that it does not use AI to make predictions. This community of therapists promises that it will not use algorithms to match clients with professionals. This The social network uses its rejection algorithms and advertisements as its USP.

Additionally, there are too many dating sites, subscription services, ad sales, finance managers, and recruiting agencies out there declaring on their websites that they are not using AI or algorithms to do their job. The message is very clear. These companies want to emphasize that they are not leaving the smartest part of their business to rash systems. They employ experts to carefully consider the task at hand based on their experience and, perhaps, their intuition.

“Man-made” means a quality product.

In a world full of shiny-toothed AI vendors peddling their wares at (virtual) conferences, shouting that data is ‘the new oil’ and offering to open magical doors for companies looking to break out of a pandemic well is an interesting development. There is room in this world – maybe a big place – for old craft humans and their semantic knowledge.