The Battle of the Century; AI vs. the Human Mind

Artificial intelligence (AI) plays a large role in our industry and has been a hot topic for decades. With Siri and Alexa helping us throughout the day, AlphaGo’s historic victory against world champ Lee Sedol, and Tesla’s self-driving car system, one might wonder where that leaves us humans?

There are a lot of opinions around how the rise of the machines will impact humanity. From Elon Musk who went as far as claiming that AI is our biggest existential threat, to Alan Perlis saying that spending time in AI makes you believe in God.

Just take a look at the movie Hidden Figures that tells the story of a time at the height of the Space Race when human calculations were more trusted than computers. Yet, this was in 1969, almost 50 years ago, its 2017 now and we’ve come a long way. People who are intimidated by technology are obviously in the wrong spot, but are machines better than humans at making decisions and running campaigns? The answer to that question lies somewhere in the middle and this is especially true for those of us in marketing.

Think about it, how can a marketer constantly know what content, campaigns, offers, channels, a customer is engaging with, and conversely not engaging with by looking at the available data? Or set advertising bids, select keywords, and ad copy as fast as a machine? We simply can’t, at least not within a timeframe that is humanly possible. AI can do this quicker, better, and constantly learns and improves along the way. So, are we about to become extinct?

Well, no, not yet. AI can’t understand sarcasm, tell a joke, laugh, or be truly creative in the sense of creating something from scratch. Just take a look at the recent Facebook shutdown of its AI chatbots, because they were not able to talk to people in a way that was expected from them. Human oversight is still necessary to make sense of the social and emotional context.

However, if AI can make sense of big amounts of data to improve customer engagement with personalised communications and do it quicker, better, and in real-time, then what’s not to like? This frees up time and budget for us marketers to focus on adding value to our marketing strategies and making that emotional connection with our customers.

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