Robots probably not going to take your job, says IBM innovation director

There will always be room for strategists in marketing - even if the robots are coming for the media planners.

AI: coming for marketing but not your job
AI: coming for marketing but not your job

That is according to Hugo Pinto, an innovation director at IBM Interactive Experiences, who works with IBM's Watson group.

Watson is IBM's "supercomputer", an artificially intelligent system which can answer natural language queries. It is currently involved in industries ranging from cybersecurity to medicine to marketing. There is some fear it will eventually replace some white collar professions.

Speaking at the launch of Warc's 2017 digital toolkit for marketers, Pinto likened AI to the wheel. The possibilities offered by the wheel probably looked scary when it was conceived, he suggested, but now the shape and functionality is commonplace. "Before you have something to play with, it's going to look scary and like you won't know what to do with it," said Pinto.

But he acknowledged AI could "destroy some jobs". 

"It will force you to think on a higher order of magnitude," he said. "If you're a marketer, you can't manage campaigns any more, that's no longer enough.

"If you tell me a strategist will lose their job, I sincerely doubt that."

Pinto's comments came as tech giant Capita announced it would axe 2,250 jobs, replacing at least some of its staff with robotic technology.

Also speaking at the event was Zenith's head of client solutions, Chris Arnold. The agency recently unveiled an automated planning service, which boosts media performance without human intervention. Arnold did not comment on whether such techniques might put planners out of a job, but did say other media agencies would catch up with their own propositions soon enough.