Butchers and meat packers are in for a rough ride. They have the highest risk of being robbed of their jobs by artificial intelligence or robots. This is according to a recent study by researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, published in the journal Science Robotics. Physicists, on the other hand, can feel safe in the job market. "Too often, artificial intelligence and humans are seen as two opponents, black and white. And then the question arises: Where can AI make humans completely superfluous? But that's often not possible," says Dr Thomas Lindemann, author and expert on digital topics. "AI can perhaps achieve 60 per cent, 70 per cent of what a human being would be capable of. It achieves this result incredibly quickly, but it doesn't get any better. And that is not enough. Because it's not always about speed, it's the end result that counts."
If an automatic analysis is right in 80 per cent of the cases of cancer diagnosis, that is still hardly satisfactory, the doctor of behavioural science states as an example. This is where humans are needed who can take a different perspective. "Man and machine do not work against each other, but with each other. That's exactly what human-in-the-loop is," says Lindemann, adding, "I believe that human-in-the-loop is the future of AI in quite a few areas." Lindemann has specialised in one of these areas, namely the creation of blog and social media posts in the B2B sector, with his marketing tech start-up fyrfeed.
Texts as a "problem area”
According to experts, "text writing" is one of the most unpopular jobs in marketing. On average, a company needs two hours to create an informative post for social media. A blog post takes even longer. Dr. Thomas Lindemann, who founded his first company at the age of 18 after graduating from high school, understands this: "You don't just write a blog post, for example. There are a lot of 'problems' that have to be solved: Who is writing the article? What do I write about? Where do I find suitable sources? How do I structure the article? How do I formulate the article in a fitting and exciting way? How do I iron out grammatical errors? How do I create a suitable picture? How do I find a snappy title? How do I publish the article? And where?" he knows, and "that's just the surface. For each question, of course, you can go deeper." While some of these areas, such as grammar, can be handled by a machine, there are other aspects that humans do best: for example, giving the post such a spin that the reader really feels addressed. "And for some topics, both humans and machines really have to work together," he is convinced: "For example, when it comes to the question of suitable sources. There, the AI can make a pre-selection, take over research work, but ultimately decide, that has to be done by humans."
This is exactly what happens at fyrfeed, which Lindemann launched in Berlin at the beginning of 2020 together with two co-founders, Benjamin Zengler and Ehud Alexander Avner. Blogposts or posts for Linkedin, XING, Facebook and Instagram are created by the specially developed artificial intelligence, supplemented with search terms and pre-curated. The customer receives text, suitable emojis, hashtags and a post image via the fyrfeed app and then only has to place the content on the selected platforms, directly or with the support of a social media tool. This is supposed to reduce the monthly time spent by customers on content creation to five minutes, and the costs are said to be 80 per cent cheaper than with agencies. If you think of fast-food content, Dr Lindemann will tell you otherwise: "Because fyrfeed creates premium content," says the author of several specialist books. "The fact that we use AI to improve the creation process does not lead to less quality, but on the contrary to more quality!”
Real added value instead of fast-food content
It is true that technology helps to save time and make the content more favourable for the customer. But that is not the only focus. Rather, the team, which has grown to 35 people, is committed to "articles with real added value", Lindemann says, refusing to produce "cheap advertising blah-blah, self-praise or hype".
"Every post should be able to elicit a 'Hey, I didn't know that yet!' from the reader," the go-getting founder and CEO quotes fyrfeed's internal guideline. To fulfil this, the company specialised in B2B communication at an early stage. Information, data, numbers, facts, knowledge - "the whole company is geared towards getting exactly this kind of contribution right," explains Lindemann and is convinced that "the quality (would) suffer if the company had to constantly jump back and forth" between fact-oriented B2B communication and the infotainment that makes up B2C content. In addition to this specialisation, every single contribution is individual and tailored to the needs of the customer and the specifics of its target group. "Because different customers have very different ideas of what a 'high-quality' article is for them," the expert knows. "By the way, this is another reason why creating really good texts can only be done with human-in-the-loop, and not exclusively with AI. Just ask an AI when a contribution is of high quality! You'll laugh at the crap that comes out of it."
It is just as pointless to judge quality by the number of likes or shares clicked. "Most users of social media, for example, are so-called lurkers. These are passive readers who would never interact with a post, no matter how good or bad they think it is. Depending on the study, they make up 95 to 99 percent," says Lindemann, who has also worked for Volkswagen and an international digital consultancy in Hong Kong. And even if a funny video goes viral that has nothing to do with the professional work of the publisher, that is just empty reach. At the same time, however, a deal could be struck between two companies because the people involved were able to build trust based on posts on LinkedIn - without ever leaving a Like. "With us, the customer decides what is good," says the founder. If the post doesn't meet their expectations, they always have the option of sending it back to the fyrfeed team, which works 100 per cent remotely from all over the world. "Then it will be revised, and it will be revised until the customer is completely satisfied. That doesn't cost the customer a single cent extra," Lindemann emphasises, "but for me it's very important: that customers feel they can fully identify with the contributions they receive. This feedback from the customers is therefore our yardstick for performance." At the same time, the feedback is also one of the most important sources of data for the further development of the product. Every week, the founder therefore talks to customers to find out how and why the service is used and what the goal is. "Because if a customer leaves us, then we obviously haven't managed to solve their problems," says Lindemann. "So we need to understand what those problems are exactly."
5 to 6-digit sales per month
Lack of visibility, lack of trust, insufficient sales quotas - these are the problems that customers want to solve with the help of social media posts. fyrfeed has analysed tens of thousands of posts in order to train its AI to recognise the appropriate content, or rather its patterns and structures, for these challenges. Since the company has been generating revenue since "day one, we were able to develop the offer and the product very quickly and test it on the market immediately," says the passionate entrepreneur happily. "Believe me, that saves an incredible amount of time. Because the reality is actually always different from what you've thought up in the privacy of your own home." In the meantime, the international team has developed the product so much that it has "really hit a nerve". Unfortunately, he is not allowed to divulge the current business figures, but the young team has succeeded in achieving 5- to 6-figure sales per month within only two years. Lindemann and his colleagues are not resting on their laurels: "The special thing about the fyrfeed system is that every single article we create for our customers can be used to train the AI," the CEO emphasises, "because in addition to the articles themselves, we also have a lot of other useful information about the customer, their industry, their target group and so on. That alone is an incredible treasure trove of data, and it's growing every day."
Two million euros, which the multi-award-winning tech start-up recently received as part of a seed financing round, are to contribute to further growth. The funding round was led by VC Born2Grow and backed by Austria's IBB Ventures and primeCROWD. "Most of the money will go towards the further development of the fyrfeed platform, where everything is brought together: The writers who natively create posts on the platform. The artificial intelligence that helps at various levels. The management of the posts, including constant quality control processes," explains the former advertising agency boss, "and of course the customers who receive, manage and publish their posts via the fyrfeed app." Although the fresh capital is intended to further improve automation, one thing is clear: "Humans are always involved, and that won't and shouldn't change at all," says Lindemann, allaying fears that AI will mean the end of the writing guild in the future, "because both are much better together than alone. We simply bring together the best of both worlds.”