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April 19, 2024
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Romanian News Tech

Romania’s PM Fakes Dialogue with Romanian AI Chatbot ION, Pretends It Is Functional

The first Romanian AI Chatbot hired as a Government advisor, ION, hit the headlines the other week. Reaching international fame shortly after the launch, it comes to a nasty head collision with the Romanian journalists. Apparently, ION, one of the most common names in Romania, could have a proper conversation with people standing before it by typing and reading the answers in a human-like voice.

ION was presented to the media during the last Romanian Government meeting to make it more dramatic. The very Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca stood before the mirror, which was ION’s interface, asking questions, and ION answered them.

Romania’s PM pretending to talk to ION

Actually, the Romanian speakers noticed an error right in this bogus launching. The PM, an ex-military general not very famous for his ability to communicate, looked like not learning the prompt correctly. He asked, “Cum pot românii să te învețe?”, which in English is ”How can Romanians teach you?”, while on the screen, his question was written differently. The exact meaning but different words. ION wrote on the mirror: ”Cum te pot românii învăța?”, which was not what the PM was saying.
This attracted the attention of the journalists, who felt it might have been a pre-set scenario, played poorly by the PM.

ION’s coordinating AI developer, Nicu Sebe, admitted this during a podcast with one of Romania’s famous digital marketing specialists, Dragos Stanca. In the below video, Dragos Stanca asked Nicu Sebe to tell him if somebody played the pre-set answers, and the latter admitted it.

Dragos Stanca: Someone played the answers that were pre-recorded, so to speak. It wasn’t like ChatGPT that it responds to you in real-time, right?

Nicu Sebe: At that moment, it really was, but the system can also make answers for sure.

How does this fake dialogue with an AI chatbot impact the credibility of the Romanian AI industry?

The dialogue was fake, and the head AI developer of the company programming ION admitted it, but he also said the system could generate answers. If so, why wasn’t it allowed to do so? Why this mascarade?

Digital marketing specialists think this is quite a severe blow to the Romanian AI industry. It’s even harder to fix it as it came from the highest administrative level of the country: its very own Government.

We asked the representatives from one of the Romanian digital agencies using AI extensively in their activity what their opinion is on ION’s launch.

Catalin ADAM, digital strategist at TUYA Digital, at Valahia News podcast
Catalin ADAM from TUYA Digital during Valahia News podcast

Even though the product could be very good, if it is perceived as having a few flaws, the public will stick to this perception. ION, in my opinion, has two main flaws from the marketing point of view. The first is his name – a very common name in Romania, but it is perceived pejoratively by the people. There are jokes where the main character is Ion, and this doesn’t help people see ION in a very positive way. When your own people mock the name of the product you want to advertise, you have a problem.

The second flaw is that ION’s developers choose to present it to the public in a very bombastic style during the Romanian government’s meeting, which highers expectations. When doing that, you must carefully choose the characters playing the scenario. Romania’s PM failed to learn the copy and shuffled the words. It was enough for the journalists to notice and expose it to the world.

Unfortunately, this impacts the entire Romanian AI industry. When other similar products are launched, the public will doubt the product’s functionality and ask if that isn’t a new scenario played by other actors.

Catalin ADAM, digital strategist at TUYA Digital

In other words, even if ION might have the ability to have a dialogue with humans, exactly like ChatGPT, the way its developers choose to market the product failed utterly. Also, this cast doubt on the entire AI industry in Romania.

The irony is that Humans AI, the company which developed ION, has a perfect record of AI or blockchain products developed so far. Two years ago, we wrote that Humans.ai had closed its public token sale on Polkastarter in record time, raising $1,170,000 via the cross-chain token offering platform. We wrote about the failure of their product ION, which, again, might be an excellent product killed by its marketing.

The AI marketing lessons we should learn from here

ChatGPT is the standard of the industry. It is a perfect chatbot to generate answers on anything. It allows you to ask anything or demand the system write or plan something, and it will do very extensively. It comes with an API integration, which allows developers to use and integrate its functions anywhere.

The difference here is that ION is not like ChatGPT. ION’s mission would have been much more straightforward: to collect Romanians’ opinions on a dedicated governmental page, ion.gov.ro, and compile them to tell the government the people’s positive or negative opinions. It should’ve behaved like a mirror, which is why its interface was a mirror, but ION’s launch failed to persuade Romanians to use it.

There is a lesson to be learned here, and this is what we all should listen to when it comes to blockchain or AI marketing. The specialists from Crypto Marketing Center say the very same thing:

When you have the perfect product, lousy marketing can kill it. When you have a mediocre product, intelligent marketing can make it valuable. So, marketing is the key, and the Romanian Government proved it either has lousy marketers or poor actors to play the script. Either way, ION failed at its launch, just like thousands of other good products with lousy marketing.

Anne-Marie M. – growth hacker at CryptoMarketing Center

Maybe this is where governments should approach the digital marketing industry when marketing products like this. Or maybe they should simply wait and launch them when adequately developed. It would’ve been way better.

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