Everybody’s talking about it. Some people want it. Some people have it. Many people fear it. But what is AI? And how is it going to change our industry in the future?
‘Artificial’ intelligence. It sounds scary. Fear not though, the purists definition of AI – an autonomous machine that thinks and learns for itself, is a little way off. (Unless you’re a tech giant.)
However elements of AI, namely machine learning and representation learning, are on our doorstep. And these alone are going to transform both the process and outcomes of our work.
Firstly let’s reframe AI. It’s not about machines taking over - they’re not the enemy. This is not a contest of human versus machine. Machines are our partners - it’s human and machine.
Machines are objective. They don’t have down days. They don’t have egos. They’re fast accurate and can operate at a scale we can only imagine.
But, machines have to be trained and If you train your machines on garbage, you’ll only get garbage out. So quality of data becomes ever more precious in the AI age. And it’s here we see the advantage we have over machines. Machines are driven by data, which means they not great creative or original thinkers.
This makes our relationship with AI a simple one. We have ideas. They hone and optimise ideas. As an outcome we create more effective work and they constantly learn what work is effective.
So it’s less about Artificial Intelligence. More about Augmented Intelligence.
To be transformational we also need to introduce more than just data and technology. Science needs to play its role too. Fortunately, tech advances are running parallel with advances in cognitive psychology, image processing and linguistic analysis. And it’s this blend of innovations that will be transformational for us.
For example, we’re going to be able to predict emotional response to content at a speed and scale that was previously unimaginable. Not just positive and negative sentiment either - but the full spectrum of emotions, from specific audiences - all at the push of a button.
This will enable us to test messaging in an instant, better marry images with text and even predict response to video.
Beyond that, machines will be able to learn a brand’s tone of voice to ensure consistency and coherence at a global scale. (No more brand police surely has to be a good thing?) We’ll even be able to better match digital advertising content to the context in which it’s seen. (Surely this has to be a good thing too – no more irrelevant, or worse, offensive ads, chasing you around the web.)
This is not science fiction. These are all products currently being developed. And they’re going to revolutionise the way we use technology in our day to day work.
All that said, the resounding conclusion from our debate was no, AI will not make every campaign a success. AI is not going to turn a shoddy, ill conceived campaign into a ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ moment, but it is going to improve the emotional connection our content has with the audiences we want to build relationships with.
Stuart Youngs is a Founder of Texture - a lab developing breakthrough AI for the communications industry. To contact Stu, email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.