The news has been buzzing lately with the introduction of Chat GPT, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform that you can interact with and ask questions, much like a search engine, but instead of providing search page results, it responds in conversation form.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the words “Artificial Intelligence,” my mind immediately jumps to movies like iRobot, Ex Machina, and Her. These are films where AI robots are on the verge of becoming self-aware and pose a threat to humanity.
Although this type of AI is closer to science fiction than reality at the moment, Hollywood has painted AI in a negative light, and it’s always seen as dark and mysterious. It’s seen as a threat to humanity and makes people wonder if robots will eventually steal their job or worse. In actuality, brands have been using AI for years, and you probably didn’t realize it. Currently, at least, it is used more as a complementary tool to do jobs that would be too difficult, too slow, or too expensive for humans.
AI is used to track customers’ interests and show them relevant ads based on what they are interested in, but that’s old news, and I’m sure you already know that. Brands are now using AI to create ads. In fact, in 2018, Lexus used AI to analyze 15 years of award-winning car ads and write one for them based on the findings. You can watch that ad here. I think we’ll see many brands follow suit and use it to push the envelope in advertising.
Netflix has been a pioneer in the AI space for years. They use machine learning (a form of AI) to provide each user with personalized recommendations based on their viewing habits, and it’s highly effective. In fact, a software engineer at Netflix confirmed about 80% of what people watch on Netflix comes from the recommendation algorithm. Another interesting way they use it is by using personalized images for the show/movie thumbnail, depending on your interests and viewing habits. I was fascinated when I first learned this and started paying attention to the images we see on my girlfriend’s vs. my Netflix, and sure enough, they’re almost always different for the same titles. I encourage you to do the same! Compare the images you see vs. a friend, and I bet you’ll be surprised at what you find.
In 2021 financial institutions spent $217 billion on AI for fraud detection and risk assessment. Their goal is to prevent fraud in the earliest stages or eventually before it even happens (“precog” anyone?).
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AI has been a building block for videogames since all non-player-controlled characters (NPCs) rely on AI to function. In the past, they used simple programming, i.e., if the user crosses this line, then attack, or once the NPCs health is below this metric, then retreat. Game makers were worried about unpredictability ruining the player’s experience since it would introduce an element of variance. Although I think increased variance will be the future of gaming, videogame experiences will become increasingly unique based on how players play the game. Unique player experiences will become a goal instead of something to avoid.
I’m sure you’ve heard social media platforms talk about their algorithm, which constantly updates to try to show you more content that you will enjoy and which gets more accurate the more you use it. TikTok changed social media with the “For You” page in their model. Personally, I had TikTok exclusively for the “For You” page, which just shows you content that they think you’ll enjoy, and it gets more accurate with the more content you view. Other social media platforms quickly followed suit, with YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and Twitter For you.
There’s no denying the impact AI has had on marketing and the world in general, and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. The first thing we’ll see is near universal adoption of AI as brands look to keep their competitive edge and not be left behind. I think we’ve passed the tipping point and are in the early majority stage of the technology adoption life cycle since about 35% of companies currently use AI, and 42% are exploring AI for future implementation.
In the near- to mid-term, AI will continue to evolve, if not dramatically disrupt the areas of search, content creation, digital marketing, customer service and digital brand experiences. During this transition phase, it is unlikely to replace humans and the human touch. Rather, it will serve as an augmentation and enabler. The AI of the foreseeable future will still lack the creativity of human thought.
In the mid- to long-term, the continued evolution of AI, according to many, will threaten the jobs and, therefore, the livelihoods of 50% of the human population who perform the most routinized tasks as AI continues its inexorable march into more aspects of our world. This expansion of AI, not to mention the potential for AI with more advanced creativity and even self-awareness, may start to come closer to those Hollywood scripts. The sooner we discuss—and more importantly prepare—for that day, the more likely we will avoid the apocalyptic endings portrayed in those movies.