Artificial Intelligence and the future
Last month you may have seen a two-part series aired on BBC Two entitled ‘Secrets of Silicon Valley’. The first episode, ‘The Disruptors’, delved into Silicon Valley’s utopian vision for improving things by changing our approach and how, ultimately, disrupting the status quo means life changing consequences. But is their idealistic view of society really as perfect as they think?
What are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the capability of machines to constantly learn and solve problems as well as humans can. Machine Learning is a form of AI technology whereby machines draw on past data sets to learn how to problem-solve on their own. Silicon Valley is using this process to develop machines that can do things even better than humans can. It’s already entered the world of marketing and it is thought that AI will continue to accelerate the marketing landscape over the next three to five years.
How is AI currently being used in marketing?
Content curation – Something many people are very likely to have experienced at some point whilst browsing a TV subscription service such as Netflix, for example, are suggestions for TV programmes or films that you might like, based on what you have watched previously. Essentially, the more you use the service, the more AI can learn about you, meaning the content it chooses to show you will become more relevant and personalised to you.
Voice search – AI is so intelligent it can actually manage different types of searches, including voice search. With this in mind, SEO professionals have adapted the way they work to ensure websites are voice search friendly, as traditional methods are becoming less effective. The rise of personal assistants, such as as Siri and Alexa, is one reason for this and their intelligence doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. At this year’s Google I/O, the Google Assistant made a hair salon appointment and the hair salon didn’t seem to notice they were, in fact, fact speaking with a robot!
Whilst this is all very interesting and shows there’s already been a shift in the way things work, Silicon Valley is taking Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to a whole new level.
What potential does Machine Learning have beyond marketing?
Self driving trucks – Secrets of Silicon Valley revealed a company called Starsky Robotics that is developing a computer – Rosebud – that controls a truck’s pedals and steering wheel. Through adaptation rather than creation, they’re hoping to beat rivals. During the programme, the truck drove over 100 miles with Rosebud alone, and the company is hoping take people out of the trucks on lower risk routes such as highways.
Diagnosing cancer – Artificial Intelligence is even being used to diagnose cancer. One start-up company went to great lengths by learning Chinese to understand how the mind works and then implementing their findings into AI. To combat a shortage of doctors and nurses in the developing world, the company uses deep learning software so that AI is able to diagnose cancer from medical images. Just like humans, it learns from examples to identify patterns and problems from past learnings, enabling it to become ever more accurate. What’s truly fascinating is that a human typically takes around 10-15 minutes to look over a CT scan, whereas the software takes around 0.3 seconds and is thought to have the capability to develop the intuition of a radiologist.
The Pros and Cons of AI and Machine Learning
Clearly there are some revolutionary things happening thanks to AI and Machine Learning and many are already seeing the benefits.
One benefit of AI within the context of marketing is its ability to reduce cognitive load – what psychologists refer to as the level of effort being used in your working memory or associated with a particular task. By reducing cognitive load, humans will have more time to think at a more strategic or business level, resulting in improved business results and even employee satisfaction. But not everyone is convinced the world is going to be a better place because of AI and Machine Learning in the future.
Some people question whether we’ll become so efficient there won’t be any jobs left for humans. While others are more optimistic, believing that jobs such as social media managers didn’t used to exist and now they do, so in the future we will be able to find other things to do. On a more extreme level, some believe that if the status quo remains ignorant to the advancements in technology, a dystopian future is in front of us.
Whether you’re a fan of AI or not, it is it is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world and has the potential to exponentially change everything in the not-so-distant future.
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