A look at virtual reality, artificial intelligence and advertising from Cannes Lions 2016

Isobar China Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, Francis Lam, looks at virtual reality, artificial intelligence and advertising from Cannes Lions 2016.

Almost 20 years ago when I was in university working on a VRML project, I was able to see my 3D avatar through a stereoscopic device using a high-end SGI workstation. I could manipulate it with a Logitech 3D mouse or feel it with a Phantom Force Feedback device.

Now everyone with a smart phone and cardboard goggles can enjoy an extraordinary VR experience anytime, anywhere. Virtual Reality is not an extension of the screens. It is a new medium capable of blocking (some of) your perceptions of this world and a portal to the other man-made worlds.

AI or machine learning is another buzzword throughout this year’s Cannes Lions Festival. Brian Eno mentioned, in a talk hosted by Dentsu, a very interesting notion of “Artificial Stupidity” — meaning if you want to make a computer program more human you have to make it dumb. The robots are not going to take over the world in the near future. Google’s AlphaGo is able to beat the world’s best Go player, yet no AI is close to having the common sense of a normal kid. But we should really start to think about how to embrace bots and live with them in a mutually beneficial way.

Sean Gourley reminded us in one of the Lions Innovation talks that 61% of the Internet is now non-human. We already co-exist with software agents and continuously feed and nurture them with our social media feeds and data in the clouds. Surely these bots will get better and stronger, and will do non-tedious jobs for us one day.

Technology is our future so it’s not surprising to see so many tech companies occupying the beaches at Cannes. Besides, looking for great ideas with culturally relevant insights, brands and creative agencies have higher demands in the use of cutting edge technologies. Not only do they attract more eyeballs, they are also changing the business model with new innovative products and services. Advertising could be the key to commodify technology in the digital age.

Francis Lam, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, Isobar China

Follow our Cannes Lions conversation on Twitter@Isobar #CreativeXDigital