Stefano Cuomo, Macknade: “A few musings”

31 May 2023, 08:10 AM
  • Stefano Cuomo, CEO of Macknade, shares his thoughts on the rise of AI and how it could impact fine food retail
Stefano Cuomo, Macknade: “A few musings”

It was early Autumn when we started to hear the rumbles. Of course, it had always been a scenario, no real clarity as to what it was, what its impacts could be…

Risks were far away and under control, if indeed there were any. Regardless, we didn’t need to know much more.

By Christmas ever greater numbers of people seemed to be discussing it, still without real clarity as to the impact it would have on us, and our day to day; no real sense of urgency as to the need to discover more. Then bang! By spring we all knew what it was and that it was going to change our lives…

This could have been written for Covid-19, as it could for ChatGPT! We are living through epic, societal-shaking times! As I start to try and understand my own personal relationship with the AI landscape (literal and imagined) of the here and now, and that which lies ahead, I am looking for historic reference points and contemporary analogies that will help guide me through.

Both of which, I feel, may well be of little value as the next stage of the digital transformation of our societies takes shape in ways that we have never seen before!

How to make sense of something we are told we cannot ignore, that we must start to bed into our strategical thinking, a platform that will be adopted at a faster pace than any step-change technology we have ever seen before (yet, ironically is being stumped by the lack of computing capacity to allow for its very evolution!)?

It would seem that one silver lining of Covid has been to set us up for this rapid change in our realities, leading to the collective inclination and drive to invest in the positives (the ‘war footing’ approach to vaccines having pushed the mRNA agenda, as an exciting example) and not only struggle with the opaque negatives.

Critically, I am aware that we will not simply move, one day to the next, to an AI dominated world, but as with everything, there will be shades, different adopters and subjective priorities. Inevitably cash will dictate directions that AI (to continue to use this amalgamous acronym) travels
but that has been the case with intelligence full stop.

Surely, we are moving to a point in which intelligence is valued in itself, and categorised accordingly, not artificial or human, but by socially agreed, and disagreed(!), strata (I can see this running parallel to the adoption of consideration of how we engage in our natural world, perhaps most vividly in our relationship with animals and our consumption and use of them).

The benefits will be huge, even if the pace discombobulating. What ‘expert systems’ will bring will be tremendous and have the potential to drive real social equity, delivering the human and environmental harmony we strive for.

Of course the spectre of job losses inevitably raises its brutal head, but as with platform shifts of the past (there I go!) we can be confident of new jobs that will be created through the beneficence of the new technology, and if I look selfishly at our own sector – the true service sector – I believe there will be a ‘human premium’: the lower paid jobs will rise up and deliver, whilst more technical, previously highly valued, roles will be assimilated into an economically, far more effective and dynamic, AI driven structure.

People want to buy from people, shared narratives, shared sense of place and being, this will continue to be our shared strength… trust! A quick Google and you can find the AI generated images of Boris Johnson being manhandled by a couple of bobbies!

Whether such an image delivers a sense of schadenfreude or not, to think that these AI generated and doctored images, mashed with their collaborative storylines, will soon be upon us, in ever greater numbers, trying to shape our understandings and beliefs, makes me think of those stories of the past… Pardoners pedalling pig bones!

Nothing really changes, so we stay curious, we stay close to those we trust, we question our sources and then we make the right decisions together: everything a community focused business does day in day out!

I believe this new world will stutter and stumble as it charges ahead, at pace, but it will bring solutions to the human conundrum on our finite planet, and most of all I believe it will allow us to cherish being human in the most positive and pure of ways.

more like this
close stay up-to-date with our free newsletter | expert intel | tailored industry news | new-to-know trend analysis | sign up | speciality food daily briefing