By Will Shorrocks

Can AI understand the Zeitgeist?

It’s hard to think of any sector or profession that isn’t thinking about what the advancement of AI holds for them, with many of us feeling fearful for our jobs and businesses (not to mention the future of mankind!). Will it make our skills and services redundant, or will it be a valuable tool that will advance and enable them? For a business like ours it will undoubtedly transform image and copy generation, but can it actually think like us? The subject of AI has certainly entered the zeitgeist but does AI actually understand what that is? To find out we asked ChatGPT – "can AI understand the Zeitgeist?"

Napa Valley wine bottles on a shelf

This is what it said:

“While AI can process and analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns and trends, understanding the full essence of the zeitgeist can be challenging for AI alone. The zeitgeist encompasses the collective beliefs, values, attitudes, and cultural context of a particular time period, and it often involves complex and subjective aspects of human experience.

AI algorithms are data-driven and operate based on patterns and correlations found in the data they are trained on. They can detect trends and identify popular opinions or behaviours within a given dataset. However, AI may struggle to grasp the broader cultural and historical significance behind these trends, as well as the underlying motivations and emotions that drive them.

Understanding the zeitgeist often requires human interpretation, intuition, and cultural understanding. Humans possess the ability to perceive and analyse complex cultural phenomena, draw connections between different domains, and recognise the underlying narratives and social dynamics at play. These elements are often crucial for capturing the full essence of the zeitgeist.

AI can certainly contribute by providing quantitative data and insights that can help identify certain aspects of the zeitgeist. It can analyse large volumes of information and identify patterns that may be indicative of prevailing cultural tendencies. However, to fully understand and interpret the zeitgeist, a combination of AI-driven analysis and human perspective is typically necessary.”

We don’t know how long it will be before AI can say with confidence it can understand the zeitgeist. But for now it will be an incredible tool to support, refine and clarify the messages we want to communicate, targeting the behaviour of our customers and even providing a point of view we might overlook. As with every new advancement in technology, it will open new and surprising creative avenues we cannot anticipate. In the meantime we think human beings still tell the best stories, and instinctively understand what makes each other tick.