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7 Min Marketing with Pam Didner


Apr 18, 2018

Recently, I did a keynote presentation about Humans vs. Machines.  Is Content Marketing doomed?  When I think about humans vs. machines, I think about the self-aware artificial intelligence like the Terminator’s Skynet, I am the Borg from the Star Trek or the agents in the movie, the Matrix. Of course, R2D2, C3PO from Star War or even Bender from Futurama also come to mind.  However, these are Hollywood versions of AI.

In real life, we have seen a Robot called Asimo developed by Honda kick a soccer ball to President Obama.  We have seen sophisticated robots which can flip or walk on uneven and hilly terrane from Boston Dynamics. Not mentioning about automatic cars developed by Google and other tech and car companies. We are developing these AI-Based tools to make our lives easier and productive.

However, in January 2015, more than 7000 people from tech, academia, and other fields signed a 4-page open letter based on the report with the title: “Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence”.  They acknowledged the immense benefits of AI, but cautioned policymakers and the public about the danger of self-aware and self-adjust artificial intelligence beings. They also articulated AI’s impact in aspects such as security, machine ethics, laws, and privacy.  Luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking both signed the open letter. Elon Musk still affirmed his point of view that AI is more dangerous than nukes.  Stephen Hawkings expressed concerned that AI could destroy human civilization.

So, what is AI?  Well, there are many different interpretations, different levels and different perspectives of AI. So, let’s define AI first. I love this definition from Wikipedia: Intelligence exhibited by machines. What is Intelligence, anyway?  Intelligence is machine can think and behave like humans. Let’s peel the onion further.  What is thinking?  Thinking has many levels. Machines can think about how to play a chess.  Machines can also think how to adjust his behavior to assist humans like Data in Star Trek. The different levels of thinking or behavior also define different levels of AI.

In general, there are three types of AI:

Artifical Narrow Intelligence, Weak AI or Narrow AI: Do a task competently, modify behaviors when the situation changes. Google translate, Alphago, Siri, IBM Watson, Autonomous cars are all examples of narrow AI.

Artificial General Intelligence: Strong AI or human-like AI:

  • Perform any intellectual task that humans can
  • Capable of cognitive functions humans may have –

in essence no different than a real human mind

  • Understand and reason its environment as humans would

ASI: AI becomes much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills

On an AI continuum: it starts from Narrow AI, AGI, then ASI.

Currently, all the applications are task-driven, we are on the cusp of narrow AI. There is no human-like AGI yet, but experts expect that will happen in the next decades, especially we keep working on to make machines smarter and taking on more complex tasks. The general consensus is that it will take a long time to get from narrow AI to AGI, but from AGI to ASI, the transition will be in no time.  When machines are smarter than humans, what will happen to us? That’s what Elon Musk and Stephen Hawkings are concerned about. 

In the meantime, many companies are developing AI-based tools to assist marketing efforts.  I talked about Lead Crunch feeds customers’ best top 25 customers to its AI-based platform to create ICP for their customers.  Drift offer AI-based bot chat to carry intelligence conversations with potential prospects to get audiences to schedule a time with the company. Salesforce.com created Einstein, AI-based platform. It learns from all that data to deliver predictions and recommendations based on your unique business processes.

McCann Japan developed an AI-CD bot. Use the bot to develop a creative concept for its commercial.  Their first pilot project was creating a commercial for Clorets, chewing gum to convey Instant fresh breath that lasts for 10 minutes.” Then, they tested human-generated commercial with an AI-generated commercial.  The human-generated commercial did slightly better than AI-based commercial.  Imagine that AI Bot getting better every time…

Here is AI-based music.  Pretty good, right…

Are marketers doomed?  I don’t think so.  If you think about it, we still need to set up processes or workflow before we can take full advantage of AI.  We still need to do quality checks. As of today, AI still need to hand whatever they accomplish for humans to complete. However, it’s important to stay on top of the trends and acquire new skillsets.  Learning is part of every marketer’s job description.

I thought it’s important for us, marketers, understand what AI is and what they offer at this time.