There’s no denying that humanity is relatively obsessed with the concept of the “end of the world.” Between recurring giant-asteroid flicks, television shows riddled with zombies, and glorified depictions of post-apocalyptic worlds, it’s no wonder we have fantasies of Armageddon on our minds. Yet, we are brought back to reality as leaders in technology warn us about a real, almost-living, almost-breathing new technology that could lead to our extinction: artificial intelligence.
So what is artificial intelligence? If you’re living in the twenty-first century, it’s extremely likely that you already know the answer. Put simply, artificial intelligence is a computer program that can interact with you and react to you. Its capabilities include being able to hear you, understand you, see you, know how you feel—and maybe one day, know what you’re thinking.
Now before you consider making yourself an aluminum foil hat, know that this technology is being well regulated. Five major tech giants have teamed up in The Partnership on AI (1) to further our knowledge in artificial intelligence while keeping it safe and under control. Amongst these tech companies are Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft. Together, they are working to address both the opportunities and obstacles that come with AI, as well as to innovate ways in which AI can benefit society.
Of course AI can be dangerous, but thankfully this group should stop Skynet from happening. To get there, they have to change the public’s outlook on AI as well. That may be more difficult than finding the best practices for AI seeing as how 26% of people don’t trust AI with professional tasks and on top of that, 54% of people don’t even believe that they use AI! (Have you heard of Siri? Cortana?) (2)
Artificial intelligence today is not quite what you’re picturing from the movies, which is good, because it’s far less scary, and way more useful. The uses of artificial intelligence are different for each of these partners. Google’s DeepMind does just about everything in terms of AI and they’ve been doing it since 2010 and are entirely devoted toward making great strides in the field.
Google Apps Scripts are another aspect of AI that bolsters business for large and small businesses. One example is that if your business makes more money on rainy days, then the AI can be set up to run more ads whenever it rains. Another example is that these scripts can gather data on the traffic of your site and find the most popular times that users search for your product or what else they are looking for and advertise in those other areas or during those times.
The application of artificial intelligence for IBM and Amazon are very similar as well, because they’re looking to better understand every day people and create a working intelligence that is able to quickly adapt to real-time problems. For IBM, they can heavily expand on the already viable “Watson,” that you may remember from Jeopardy a few years back. Currently he’s learning all there is to know about cancer to work towards a cure. Amazon however, wants to make your online shopping experience so personalized and accurate for your tastes that you won’t ever have to go anywhere else for your online shopping ever again.
For the partnership, Microsoft formed a 5,000-person team with hopes to attract even more talented AI-focused professionals. This team is vital for Microsoft to compete with the other giants, but it also attracted an interesting individual, Elon Musk. His sponsored group, OpenAI, was created to ensure AI remains safe and their benefits are not abused. OpenAI has made a recent partnership with Microsoft, which is huge for the Partnership on AI as well.
Facebook is being incredibly ambitious with their plans for AI since they’re already using artificial intelligence to map out countries and find the best ways to give Internet access to the entire world. Furthermore, they’re looking to use AI in a way that can comprehend what each individual user wants to see on their feed and customize each feed to give people what they really want.
As these tech leaders show off their prowess, keep in mind the benefits of artificial intelligence in advertising as well. A few brands beside these have already gotten on board to the powers of AI. Skype has real time translation into a few different languages already, while Apple’s Siri is learning to recognize facial movements to reveal emotions. Shell gas stations are implementing a virtual assistant at pumps to answer any questions drivers may have. Sometimes advertising is just about making the brand’s product more desirable for the consumer.
The White House report on artificial intelligence boasted America’s cutting edge technology and how we totally know what we’re doing with it. That could be incorrect, but thankfully we have the partnership to make sure nothing goes wrong. We’ll see how our new President handles the situation of AI, but for the time being, artificial intelligence seems to play a large part in the view for the future of America. (3)
Don’t forget, Watson is out finding a cure for cancer right now. Whether you like it or not, artificial intelligence is here to stay and brands are already seeing the bonuses involved. Forget money, and forget Bitcoin even, because data is the new currency that these five companies are securing their wealth in. It’s going to be a brave new world for advertising, technology and us.