How AI is transforming Christmas
Artificial intelligence has become an integrated part of our everyday lives, but there are still many things we don’t know about it.
Either way, the truth is AI is closer to us than ever before, especially during the holiday season: from personalized suggestions in online shopping to chatbots and automated customer service, AI is a great asset in improving the customer experience. However, what happens when you give an intelligent machine creative freedom?
This article highlights the different ways AI is being used to enhance user experience and entertain us during Christmas. From Christmas recipes to songs and movie titles, AI can use various patterns to create something new, but not necessarily fully understandable.
AI and Christmas shopping
It is no surprise that online shopping has become one of the most common areas to benefit from artificial intelligence. Chatbots, personalized preferences and suggestions are at the core of online shopping, allowing customers to find exactly what they are looking for without even realizing what they initially wanted.
E-commerce has been expanding massively during the pandemic years, with more people turning to online shopping as a solution to their everyday problems. Global e-commerce sales have grown by 25.7% in just a year and continue to keep growing. Deloitte’s 2021 holiday retail survey shows that 62% of spending is expected to happen online, which doesn’t seem to surprise anyone.
Not only that, but social media is taking a leading place in becoming a source of inspiration for many customers. The same report shows that 56% of those who use social media for holiday shopping use it to research products, while 28% use shoppable media to make a purchase.
During these times, there is probably no website that doesn’t implement automated personalization into its online strategy. Retailers like Stitchfix allow you to take a style quiz to find the exact clothing that you are looking for without having to search through thousands of items.
Artificial intelligence has become, in this case, Santa’s biggest little helper. With just a couple of clicks, consumers can find the perfect gift for Christmas. There is no need to struggle anymore, trying to find a present for those acquaintances and relatives you don’t know very well. AI has an answer to all your questions.
Photo by @photostock on unsplash.com
AI and customer service
One of the most subtle ways AI is being used in shopping though is by using chatbots in customer service roles. Rapid technological advancements make it difficult to discern between a human and an algorithm behind the screen. However, you can be certain that all your questions and wonders will be answered in just a couple of seconds.
Besides the baffling, yet smart and efficient online customer service, chatbots can also be encountered in physical stores, and yes, you can talk to them! In 2019, the robot Pepper welcomed and guided customers in the Swedish retail company Åhléns.
The robot helped people find the departments and products they were looking for. Pepper was also capable of introducing people to the latest offers and registering new members without having to wait in long lines.
If customer service-intrigued robots are not your thing, you can always communicate with a bot about anything that you’d like, specifically about Christmas theme topics.
A team at Cartland Law have developed Xmas Chatbot, a Facebook Messenger online pal who can answer simple questions. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), a program to help robots understand human language, the Xmas Chatbot learns from various language patterns and can reply to some frequently asked questions.
You can even use chatbots to generate quick, yet quite macabre Christmas cards to send to your dear ones (or those not so dear). XmasCardBot uses artificial intelligence to generate “unique inspirational Xmas cards for an endless celebration of a merry Xmas”, as the website describes it. With one click of a button, this model creates a lovely, or creepy (depending on your luck) message along with an inspirational picture to enhance the lovely spirit of Christmas. Some of my favourite generated examples are:
- “If you want to stay young, you need a gnome”
- “All you need to quit heroin is to turn on the Christmas lights”
- “Surrender to the Christmas ham”
- “If you obsess about a Christmas-themed dress, pay for friendships”
AI and Christmas songs
When it comes to helping customers with their online decision-making processes, AI is shining with its efficiency and accuracy. However, allow a machine to write its own creative Christmas songs and you end up with a collection of funny, and also quite worrying results.
Creative agency redpepper fed 230 Christmas songs to a Recurrent Neural Network and recorded the song written by the machine and the result is…random, to say the least. Although AI might struggle with creativity, it is capable of creating a fun and unique song that can still bring a smile to peoples’ faces.
Redpepper is not the only company that gave creative freedom to artificial intelligence. A team of computer scientists from the University of Toronto fed 100 hours of pop songs to an algorithm. They showed the computer a festive image of a Christmas tree with presents under it, had it write a story, select a rhythm and tune the vocals, which turned into a jolly masterpiece.
If you are looking for inspiration to create your own Christmas carol, the Swedish AI company Made by AI trained an algorithm to generate celebratory Christmas carol titles, such as:
- Syllabus Chocolatebells
- Cinnamon Hollybells
- Peaches Twinkleleaves
- Cocoa Jollyfluff
AI and Christmas recipes
Christmas food must be one of the most exciting parts of the holiday. From stuffed turkey to grilled pork and marinated herring, most countries celebrate Christmas with several rounds of delicious, warm, and heavy food. It is also, however, one of the times when large amounts of food are wasted.
That is why The BBC collaborated with two teams of Computer Scientists from Standford University and the University of Illinois to develop algorithms that create new recipes from leftover Christmas food. The algorithm has created some delicious and innovative recipes that get rid of your leftovers almost instantly (and not necessarily in a good way):
- Turkey croquettes
- Zabaglione brown bread
- Stewart’s for life spaghetti
If you are curious to try out these delectable Christmas recipes, I leave you with the instructions for some crunchy turkey croquettes:
Leftovers: Turkey, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, gravy, cranberry sauce
Steps: Add water to last 4 ingredients, mix well. Add salt and butter, 1/4 tsp. Add 2 cups flour a little at a time. Add turkey. With clean, knife, peel carefully and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick circles. Set the stuffing over top. Meanwhile, heat some oil to a depth of small fry pan or deep fryer, fry until golden brown.
Additional ingredients added by AI: Egg, flour, butter, salt, vegetable oil.
AI and Christmas movies
There seem to be almost no limits to how AI can help people during the busy times of Christmas. Besides delicious recipes and lovely jingle songs, algorithms can also present you with comfortable, yet heart-throbbing movie plots. Senior AI editors Karen Hao and Will Knight fed a machine learning algorithm 360 Christmas movie titles and plots based on two patterns: using letters to generate worlds from similar words and using words to generate sentences from similar sentences.
That is how the two curious minds ended up with some extreme, funny and just plain odd results. Among the intriguing synopses we have:
- A family of the Christmas terrorist and offering the first time to be a charlichhold for a new town to fight.
- A woman from chaos adopted home believes.
- A man returns to the singer who is forced to return his life with a couple to help her daughter for Christmas.
- Lonely courier village newspaper by home destroy Christmas Christmas Christmas the prancer.
If these “clickbaity” movie synopses haven’t convinced you to give a chance to these Christmas movies, maybe some AI-generated movie titles will:
- The Christmas Mile
- The Lick Christmas
- IT Santa
- The Lick Christmas
From intelligent suggestions and personalisation in the e-commerce world to fun and amusing Christmas songs, meals and movies recommended by machine learning models, the holiday season is integrating AI solutions to create a faster and smoother environment for those who want to find an answer to their problems.
I, for one, will make sure to save some leftovers for a delicious “Stewart’s for life spaghetti” to enjoy while watching “The Lick Christmas” and writing the lyrics for my next Christmas hit titled “Cinnamon Hollybells”. Happy holidays!