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Where does Santa go to vote? The North Pole

Katie Gibbs
Head of AI

It may be election week, but if you want to read something a bit more light-hearted then I’m continuing with my theme of how automation would impact Santa. This week I’ll take a look at how he could use technology to save time collecting information on what every child would like for Christmas.

Assuming that you are on the nice list, a much-anticipated part of the run up to Christmas for children is writing a letter to the North Pole or visiting Santa in his grotto in order to tell him which presents you’d like to receive this year. With automation, we could save Santa from those numerous grotto visits, speaking to all those children to hear what they’d like to receive as gifts, as well as saving children the time they’d normally spend queuing to visit Santa’s grotto and/or writing letters to the North Pole.

We could automatically generate the list of gifts for children by analysing their requests over past years and comparing them to what other children have asked for and liked at that age to identify commonalities and suggest gifts that they would like. However, if we were to fully automate this process, children would essentially get sorted into buckets based on their profile and every child in that group would receive the same gift. Although making the same gift over and over would be quicker for Santa’s workforce of elves, they would become increasingly dissatisfied with their work due to the repetitive nature of it, and they wouldn’t be able to use their skills to maximum effect. Not only would the elves would get very bored of making so many of the same gifts for children, but the children receiving them would miss out because they’d receive generic gifts that their friends are more likely to also receive, rather than the personal gift that they expect from Father Christmas.

The optimal way of using automation to save Father Christmas’ time during his busiest time of the year would be to utilise the knowledge and skills of his elves alongside the efficiencies that technology offers. We could use AI to extract from children’s letters to Santa what their wishes are and create a database to provide prioritised recommendations for each child that Santa and his elves can use to make an informed decision on what would be the best fit so that they can build and deliver a toy that a child really wants and that is personal to them. The plus side to this is that once a child reaches a certain age where they no longer write to Santa, there would be enough information collated in the system to continue making recommendations that Santa and his team can add their touch to in order to make it personal and relevant.

Of course, this is assuming that children are wishing for presents on Christmas day. Automation would struggle to deal with requests such as “Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back”, so we’d still need him to maintain oversight to grant Kevin his wish!