Artificial Intelligence will Help Marketers Focus on What’s Important
You are half-awake in bed on a Tuesday morning and you smell the scent of freshly brewed coffee. At precisely 6:30 am your curtains automatically begin to open, but don’t worry, they already know the speed to open for your eyes to adjust to the brightness. Your favorite morning music playlist begins to play softly in the bathroom, then your shower turns on. You’re a little bit groggy this morning so the shower water is one degree cooler than normal to help get you going this morning. When you hop out of the shower your work outfit is set out on your bed, pressed and ready to go. Your closet already made a wardrobe change for you because it knew you woke up with the beginning stages of a cold, so it set out a warmer under layer. Your phone alerts you with a message about your symptoms, including a stuffy nose and inflammation in your sinuses, all gathered from the microchip in your arm. Your symptoms are assessed and your phone comes up with 52 possible illnesses, a sinus infection being most likely. You are asked if you would like to send this information to your doctor. You say, “yes,” so it is sent and within seconds your virtual assistant alerts you that your doctor has sent a prescription into the pharmacy. You are ready to start your day and head into work in your self-driving car. While on your way, your assistant goes through today’s agenda, which includes a meeting with Mike Donnel, a big potential client of yours. It tells you that Mike enjoys watching baseball, specifically the cubs, and suggests you bring up last night’s game with him. Your assistant then alerts you of a lunch date you have setup with your brother. It gives you options for possible lunch spots in order of popularity at 1:30pm on Tuesdays. You choose your brother’s favorite restaurant and assistant makes a reservation for the two of you.
Sure, we may not be there yet, but this is where we are headed. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that Kevin Kelly, author of The Inevitable, sees to be just that: inevitable. AI has been an idea of the future made popular by Hollywood. However, whether we are ready for this change or not, AI has arrived and it is here to stay… and learn.
What is AI?
Essentially, artificial intelligence is the creation of machines with the ability to solve problems that are normally solved by humans and our natural intelligence. Years ago, when the idea of AI was first coined at the Dartmouth Conference in 1955, artificial intelligence was about putting ideas and functions into a box. You got out what you put into it and therefor, this AI machine only knew the amount of knowledge us humans put into it. Now, AI is about the algorithms used in the machines that allow machine learning. This learning is comparable to the learning of a newborn baby… except the machine is learning information for its entire existence. It is constantly becoming smarter and smarter, even from the minutes before.
Current AI Technology.
Artificial intelligence is a lot more prevalent today than one might think. It is at play in technology we utilize daily. While (for the past 60 years) AI has been predicted to take over in the next 20 years, machine learning seems to be picking up speed in the recent times. Here are a few examples of AI in everyday technology.
Both Siri and Google Now are virtual assistants that use AI to provide you with better results each time you use it. Each assistant collects information about your requests and uses it to understand what types of results you are looking for. By hearing you speak into your phone or computer, the assistant is learning to better recognize your voice. Even this AI technology has improved in its short existence. Now, you can say, “Ok Google, what time does the gym close?” Google can answer this pretty simply based on learning your preferences from previous requests, your location, past Google searches, etc.
Tesla has recently said that all its cars being made from now on will have Tesla’s “Autopilot” self-driving feature. How is Elon Musk’s company doing this? He emphasizes that Tesla is a learning car. “The whole Tesla fleet operates as a network. When one car learns something, they all learn it. That is beyond what other car companies are doing,” says Musk. Tesla uses its own advanced navigation mapping (with supposedly 100 times the granularity of the next map) to collect accurate data from its entire fleet of cars. This emphasis on machine learning is a transition from Tesla’s previous technology. Before the transition, Tesla’s autopilot primarily relied on its occipital cameras to detect danger on the road which resulted in a driver death in 2014.
Netflix predictions of “movies you might like” and Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist are probably the simplest forms of artificial intelligence used today. Each take the movies you watched or songs you have listened to and insert them into an algorithm to provide suggestions of what else you might like. Each time you watch a new movie, the recommendations become more accurate, thus learning from previous experiences.
Lastly and most recently, there’s the Amazon Go store. On Monday, Amazon released a video about Amazon Go, a hassle-free grocery store that gets rid of the check-out process. Between sensors, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, the store allow you to pick an item up and put it in your bag then leave. Once you leave the store, your amazon account will be billed with your purchases. The trust Amazon has placed on its AI and sensors to not mess up a single order (someone gets free food or charged for something he/she didn’t buy) may shine light on how powerful and accurate AI and machine learning can be.
There are many opinions about what the future looks like with artificial intelligence. Some think AI will change life as we know it. Some believe the affects will not be nearly as drastic. And some even consider AI as being the beginning of the end (I-Robot or The Terminator). One aspect that it seems all can agree on is that AI is coming in full effect. In each of the past four years, private investment of AI has been increasing by 70 percent, and Kevin Kelley sees that trend continuing for years to come. With so much investment and research placed into AI, it’s safe to say that AI is being investigated for many uses.
One main fear of many who refute artificial intelligence is the invention of an almighty powerful AI. Some fear machines will become so smart and prevailing that they will quickly see no need for human existence. However, Kelly addresses this fear in The Inevitable. For an AI to become this powerful that machines could take over the world, it would need to be a do-it-all machine, which he views as unlikely. “In the next 10 years, 99 percent of the artificial intelligence that you will interact with, directly or indirectly, will be nerdly narrow, supersmart specialists.” By this, Kelly means that we will not likely be see a “robot” that can cater to every need. We will have AI that can do one pretty specific thing; it will drive us around or it will complete surgeries at a hospital or it will find a solution to climate change. We may have one AI machine that can do each of these, but not all of these.
The fact of the matter is we should not be afraid of artificial intelligence. While knowing something that we have created is indeed smarter than us and better at us in most areas (and enduringly getting smarter in these areas) is a little scary, it’s going to help us in the long run. In an article from Breaking Defense, military futurist Paul Scharre says, “it’s actually not an either-or situation.” And that’s true. It’s not the matter of AI replacing humans and what not, but it’s more about how can we combine the accuracy, knowledge, and consistency of machines with flexible, unpredictable, conscious humans.
Best of both worlds.
In 1997, World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov was defeated by IBM’s machine, DeepBlue who had learned the game of chess through thousands of games prior. While this was the first big step in understanding the power, and learning capabilities of artificial intelligence, the real milestone came eight years later. In 2005 a team of chess players and a few computer counterparts beat a team of only computers in a game of chess. This is when the term centaur was coined, meaning human-machine teaming.
This example of centaurs in the chess world proves the power of when machine and human minds work together. Machine can come to a calculated solution to the problem based solely on data. However, a human can take that data and choose to agree or refute it and overrule and decision. In a 2014 chess championship battle of both computers and man, computers won 42 games, while centaurs won 53 games, proving the power that can be obtained by combining man and machine. Centaurs is where we are headed and marketers should get ready to team up with machinery.
How is this going to affect marketing?
First and foremost, artificial intelligence is going to take over a ton of jobs that were previously done by humans. Kevin Kelly predicts that about 70 percent of today’s jobs will most likely be replaced by automation and AI. However, Oxford researches predict a much lower number; 47 percent of jobs will see automation replacement by 2033. What is deemed scariest about these data is the jobs that are being overtaken by automation. It started with industrial and factory jobs like assembly lines, but now much more extensive, white collar jobs are seeing automation. Jobs like sports reporting, online marketing, and financial analysts are slowly being outperformed by AI and its use of algorithms to interpret data.
While this may sound alarming, it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. This isn’t the first time that jobs have been eliminated by technology. Besides, if an AI machine can do something more accurately and less costly than we can, why not? With the loss of some of these occupations, we should expect to see the creation of new jobs in return. Look at many of current marketing positions offered within companies: social media directors, SEO consultants, data analysts. None of these jobs even existed 20 years ago. Artificial intelligence, like said before, is going to primarily overtake analytical-based jobs. I’m talking to you, big data. Anything that can be run by a system and is required to spit out quantitative results is going to happen through AI, not by humans.
“If you care, you’ll listen. If you listen, you’ll understand, if you understand, you can create something people actually want. If you created something people will actually want, you won’t need to sell”
— Mario Schulzke, Chief Marketing Officer & Professor, University of Montana
AI will not be replacing us, it will be displacing us. AI is going to allow us to put forth our time into jobs and assignments that require more of a human touch. AI is going to give us time to do what we do best: have a conscious and show our emotions. I see our future being so integrated with AI that it will almost become ubiquitous. This will primarily be because most AI will be back-facing, meaning people will not encounter it every day. Because of the likely ubiquity of automation (and less human interaction because of automation) simply being human with feelings and emotions and uncertainties and non-never-ending knowledge will become sort of unique and rare. My vision for the future of marketing will have more of an emphasis on consumer behavior and understanding what your customer wants. The only way I see this as truly being possible is to be human and truly listen to them; listen to what they are saying, how they say it, the emotions on their faces, etc. AI will never be able to provide human emotion and consciousness.
I think artificial intelligence is going to have the opposite effect on humans than that of all technology before it. I think AI is going to “humanize” us again. Many times, it seems marketing gets a bad reputation of not being a very personal area of business (I find this pretty ironic considering our jobs are heavily rooted in understanding a customer and their wants/needs). AI may be able to reverse this perception. AI will be able to give us so much information on a single person that we will have no choice but to provide a specific product for his/her exact needs. AI is going to be able to tell us what to sell, where to sell it, and how much to sell it for (look at that, 3 of the 4 P’s of marketing).
“As a marketer, AI means you won’t spam the living hell out of your customers.”
— Bob Stutz, Chief Analytics Officer, Wave Analytics
Advertisements have been viewed as pests by many consumers and marketers are currently battling to find a way to get attention from their customers when they don’t want to see ads at all (power to ad blocking). AI is going to change all of this. Ads will become so unbelievably targeted that customers almost won’t even see them as ads anymore but instead more of a valuable resource. The power of AI will provide us marketers with information of who fits our target market down to the name. So, ads will only be shown to people who care to see them, no more mass marketing and wasted dollars! Artificial intelligence should be leveraged with “our peculiar self-awareness, all our frantic loops of introspection and messy currents of self-consciousness.”
We should not be afraid of artificial intelligence. Sure, it is totally terrifying knowing that our society is developing machines that are smarter than us. But just thinking about the infinite way AI could help society makes that fact much easier to swallow. In my eyes, artificial intelligence is going to do our dirty work and it’s going to, in turn, show us what’s important and what we should focus on. Many argue that the power of AI will almost dehumanize society, but I beg to differ. AI is going to provide us with information about people, our friends, family, clients, strangers, that can only help us be better humans and bring more to society. So, I leave you with this:
“We need to let robots take over. Robots will do jobs we have been doing, and do them much better than we can. They will do jobs we can’t do at all. They will do jobs we never imagined even needed to be done. And they will help us discover new jobs for ourselves, new tasks that expand who we are. They will let us focus on becoming more human than we were. It is inevitable. Let the robots take our jobs, and let them help us dream up new work that matters.”
— Kevin Kelly, author, The Inevitable
My name is Kailey Norman. I am a senior at the University of Montana studying marketing and management. I am an intern for the UM Athletics Marketing Department and am the secretary of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. I played Div. I soccer all four years here at UM and recently finished up my senior season. I am very passionate about hi-tech marketing and event coordination. My family is everything to me.