Use of artificial intelligence to enable dark nudges by transnational food and beverage companies: analysis of company documents
journal contributionposted on 2022-05-02, 00:00 authored by Ruby BrooksRuby Brooks, D Nguyen, Asim BhattiAsim Bhatti, Steven AllenderSteven Allender, Michael JohnstoneMichael Johnstone, Chee Peng LimChee Peng Lim, Kathryn BackholerKathryn Backholer
AbstractObjective:To describe the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled dark nudges by leading global food and beverage companies to influence consumer behaviour.Design:The five most recent annual reports (ranging from 2014 to 2018 or 2015 to 2019, depending on the company) and websites from twelve of the leading companies in the global food and beverage industry were reviewed to identify uses of AI and emerging technologies to influence consumer behaviour. Uses of AI and emerging technologies were categorised according to the Typology of Interventions in Proximal Physical Micro-Environments (TIPPME) framework, a tool for categorising and describing nudge-type behaviour change interventions (which has also previously been used to describe dark nudge-type approaches used by the alcohol industry).Setting:Not applicable.Participants:Twelve leading companies in the global food and beverage industry.Results:Text was extracted from fifty-seven documents from eleven companies. AI-enabled dark nudges used by food and beverage companies included those that altered products and objects’ availability (e.g. social listening to inform product development), position (e.g. decision technology and facial recognition to manipulate the position of products on menu boards), functionality (e.g. decision technology to prompt further purchases based on current selections) and presentation (e.g. augmented or virtual reality to deliver engaging and immersive marketing).Conclusions:Public health practitioners and policymakers must understand and engage with these technologies and tactics if they are to counter industry promotion of products harmful to health, particularly as investment by the industry in AI and other emerging technologies suggests their use will continue to grow.