Five Questions with WE

Hanson Hosein

Director of Communication Leadership,
University of Washington

Hanson Hosein is the director of the Communication Leadership master's program at the University of Washington and the president of HRH Media Group LLC. He's a pioneer of multimedia storytelling as an Emmy and Overseas Press Club award-winning journalist for NBC News, a solo TV war correspondent with MSNBC and CBC, and a documentary film director. Hanson has also been recognized as Seattle's "Most Influential," engaging publicly with the region's leaders on-camera and onstage. This work is captured within the Bezos Center for Innovation as a permanent exhibit at the city's Museum of History and Industry. He has law degrees from McGill University and the University of Paris, and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. Presently, Hanson is especially intent on applying his decades of experience to bolstering human prosperity through trusted forms of connection. Watch Hanson’s TEDx talk “Why I drop the mic” and his Creative Mornings presentation on Creativity and Compassion.

HOW WILL AI IMPACT HOW WE CRAFT, DISTRIBUTE AND CONSUME CONTENT?

AI will force storytellers to focus even more on stories that demonstrate our relevance and support our sense of self. That’s because they’ll be competing with new forms of content that aren’t stories but, rather, are compelling representations of our personal data, intended to motivate our behavior and effect change. For a very long time, we’ve relied on rectangular media (books, magazines, TV’s, computer screens and phones) to deliver content that enlightens, entertains, and educates us to think, see or behave differently. But when data can potentially present a perfect picture for us of what is, and maybe what could be, through a smart wearable or hearable, then content creators need to up their game. YouTube didn’t destroy TV or the cinema. It forced the so-called “golden age” of “peak TV” because we storytellers had to think and do differently.

HOW WILL AUDIENCES CONNECT WITH BRANDS AS AI USE INCREASES?

AI will fundamentally make the relationship between audience and brand seamless. It will involve less guessing and more anticipation of our needs, in a trusted, supportive way. Let’s call it right now: “Brand as Service.”

WHAT SHOULD BRANDS CONSIDER WITH THE ADVANCEMENT OF AI?

They who have the best access to the best data will have the best insights. Does that threaten the need for agencies if their clients have everything they need in-house? Does it force us to work with an oligopoly of data merchants (i.e., Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix) who give us sparing access to their treasure troves?

More importantly, while AI can predict, it does so by using real-time or past data sets. Let’s not forget that it’s up to us to dream of the things yet to come. I doubt whether, if AI had existed in 1965, it would have supported the creation of a niche science-fiction series that was ultimately canceled three years later because of its non-mainstream audience. The data would have informed the network to go in another direction based on its need to serve the common denominator. We would have then missed out on the societal and technological impact Star Trek has had over the past half century. Ultimately, our industry—as communication leaders– must support humans through the journey of being human.

FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, HOW DO YOU PREDICT AI WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER?

I see AI’s primary utility as supporting humans to make smart decisions at scale. Conversely, here’s my mundane wish: While guaranteeing the sanctity of my data, I’d like AI to help me plan family vacations. It would propose appropriate family adventures based on previous travels, preferred destinations, travel warnings, weather patterns, local events, and phenomena (e.g., Northern Lights forecast), peak periods, currency exchange, each family member’s available vacation time and, of course, frequent traveler programs (if those still exist five years from now).

IN ONE SENTENCE, WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE YOU WISH YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

Learn to tell stories well, then never stop telling them.

 

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"AI will fundamentally make the relationship between audience and brand seamless."
– Hanson Hosein

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