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The rise and rise of AI: where does it leave humans?

by Tug Agency | 05.09.2017
The boundaries between humans and machines are increasingly becoming blurry. Marketers are already contemplating how artificially intelligent (AI) machines will help them create smarter campaigns and personalise marketing messages in real-time. Companies are even debating the creation of a chief artificial intelligence officer (CAIO) to take ownership of delivering intelligent customer experiences.

At the Cannes Lions Festival this year, Publicis Groupe chief executive Arthur Sadoun admitted to having no problem with having an artificial intelligence platform (AI) to be one-day part of its executive team. But as machines evolve and become more intelligent, where does that leave humans?

This was the topic of discussion at digital performance marketing agency Tug’s Human Versus Machine four-day expo in London. Industry experts from various companies gathered at the event to explore how machines and AI will work together in the future.

Below are some of the main highlights of the day.

We are all bionic now

While Tesla’s founder Elon Musk has his mind set on merging the minds of humans with advanced computers to improve memory and gain enhanced intelligence, Tom Cheesewright, futurist at Book of the Future says we have already begun to outsource mental functions to our devices.

“Over the last 12 months there has been a lot of discussion about the next stages in the bionic-human space. Elon Musk is becoming more and more like the real-life Tony Stark. We don’t really need implants to be bionic. Technology is so good at reading and understanding us, and anticipating what we want. It’s getting better and better at it,” he said.

“The apparent bandwidth between us and our machines has been increased by predictive intelligence, rich sensor arrays and rapid interfaces that machines may as well be a part of us now,” he added.

Voice control is the next steam engine

Paul Thomas, head of marketing at EE has seen it all. Having worked in many companies transformed by technology, he is used to seeing constant change in the industry. In his presentation, he noted how we’ve reached the “peak smartphone” and by the end of this year, there will be no other way to make smartphones better.

For him, the next big game-changer will be voice recognition.

“What’s the next steam-engine? I think it’s already here and its voice-control. But the fact that people can listen in to your conversation presents a privacy challenge. It’s more personal because it recognises your voice, knows that’s on your calendar, and what you have done before,” he warned.

AI does not have to replace humans – it can make us better

Most of the focus in the industry tends to be on AI replacing human jobs. But how many organisations have thought about using AI to help humans perform better in their jobs? This is the question put forward by Adah Parris, futurist at Friday Club and coach and consultant.

“Rather than thinking about AI replacing us, we should see it as allowing us to do things better. How can we use it to help us do a better job? We need to try to turn people into problem-solvers, not just for their customers but within their own internal structures too. Start thinking of organisations as ecosystems and use these frameworks to create better jobs,” she said.

Digital culture is not an imposition; it’s an invitation

HR and Comms platform Beem was set up nearly five years ago to help solve the problem of disengaged employees. In a joint presentation, Sylvie Galland, head of client success and operations at Beem, and Jonathan Neumann, CTO at Beem talked about how the big technology players Google, Facebook, and Amazon have shaped our digital culture. But the tools have not made their way into the workplace – creating a discord between employees and their companies.

“Digital culture is not a passive thing. 70% of employees are not engaged with their companies and the talent turnover will cost Britain £4 billion by 2025,” said Neumann.

He added: “They need to be receptive to change and take inspiration from the consumer space. How can you unite employees in different locations? Companies should look at universal platforms that are doing this. Digital culture is not an imposition, it’s an invitation. Focus on delivering something for everyone.”