Blog: Why robots won't take our jobs
A view from Damian Ferrar

Blog: Why robots won't take our jobs

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driving one of the biggest societal shifts in human progress. Jack Morton's Damian Ferrar explores its future impact on brand experiences.

We’re on the cusp of one of the biggest societal shifts in human progress driven by the rapid development of AI, as we move from the ‘Narrow’ AI we’re experiencing (your car/smartphone) through the game-changing ‘General’ AI (equivalent to human intelligence) to eventually the ‘Super-intelligent’ AI. As a creative director that thrives at the intersection of art, technology and culture, it’s a super-exciting time.

"The AI capability trajectory will become almost vertical"

From 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL through to IBM’s Watson to Google’s Home, we have enthusiastically pictured the exciting – and daunting – fictional scenarios that AI will enable. Now it’s real. It has been for some time, but over the next few years the AI capability trajectory will become almost vertical and the biggest hurdle to realising its potential will be common sense and reason. In the short term, machine learning will struggle to master emotion over logic in algorithmic outcomes.

There has been an increased excitement around algorithms; put simply, the application of formulas that calculate outcomes from data. However, it is clear that there is a crisis of confidence in algorithms, driven by the over-reliance on machines to understand the information the algorithms are looking for. And this is where our emotional capabilities play an important role in developing brand experiences. We need to rethink the questions, not the answers. 

For example, self-quantification apps are not solving health challenges. In fact, many of them cause more anxiety by answering the wrong questions due to a lack of context.

Added to this is the fact that current AI capabilities are very narrow – machines can only learn to do one thing very well. Google’s Deep Mind computer can beat the Go world champion but it can’t play chess.

"The future will see a collaboration between people and machines"

Equally, as a species, we are not data literate, so we need to get machines to understand data on our behalf. The future will see a collaboration between people and machines to help each other overcome the fact that data can tell you what, but it can’t tell you why. Yet, Elon Musk has launched a company that will reportedly merge your brain with a computer.

"For a meaningful partial brain interface, I think we’re roughly four or five years away." - Elon Musk

So, for now, let’s focus on the next five years.

What is true now, and still will be in the years ahead, is that we should not underestimate the humanity involved in creating experiences that reflect the needs and values of people. It is these experiences that can engage successfully and deliver a consistent, coherent and compelling experience.

"Our emotional capabilities enable us to create experiences"

At our agency our purpose is to ‘do something extraordinary’. To create experiences that are simple, moving and original, because they have people’s needs and values at heart. We evaluate these experiences using a new ROI, the return on involvement – which is the mutual value that is created at the intersection of context (the relevant information we know about people at that point in time) and consciousness (the desired emotional connection we want to make). And it is, of course, our humanity – our emotional capabilities – that enable us to understand context and consciousness and create experiences around them.  

Extraordinary experiences immerse audiences in a brand’s story. It takes time to craft the brand story and this can't be improved by technology. In a world where we crave emotional connections, we have a responsibility to create channel-less experiences for audiences that are effortless, which is difficult if you rely solely on technology.

AI is exciting. It presents opportunities for brands to use data to predict rather than analyse. To give us solutions to problems that haven’t surfaced yet. But, we need to make sure we’re putting human needs ahead of profit. We mustn’t, for example, think about AI providing a cost saving by replacing human networks and infrastructure with precognitive intelligence.

Ultimately, people will give up information to fuel relationships, and algorithms, if there is value in it for them - there has to be value exchange to encourage relationships with longevity. So, in a world where brands are conscious platforms of open algorithms, we have to remember to deliver value in the moment with context, relevance and emotion.

While there are huge challenges to overcome, and people will fuel our creativity for the foreseeable future, AI can help us be more innovative as humans. We are too often driven by plausibility – sometimes we need to challenge the common sense and reason that can hold us back. 

Damian Ferrar is Jack Morton's new senior vice-president (SVP), executive creative director.

More: From buddy bots to robotic coffee machines, Event looks at the latest robotic and artificial intelligence tech to watch in Event tech: Robots.

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