Artificial intelligence (AI) can seem like some scary-ass stuff. And that’s not just because of sci-fi robots and sentient weapons.
“AI is the singular thing that will be larger than all of human tech revolutions added together, including electricity, the industrial revolution, and the internet,” says technologist and venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee.
Research company Gartner says AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs by 2020 and will cause a huge revolution in every industry, including media and advertising. Just look at the trailer for the movie Morgan. IBM Watson “watched” hundreds of similar movies and their trailers, then figured out which clips to prepare for editors, who, as a result, cut days of work down to a few hours in making the trailer.
There’s also a big role for the technology in dynamic creative optimization, helping choose and – in an instant – assemble the right elements to go into digital ads for targeted individuals. That means thousands more variations of an ad made more effective, with fewer creative workers.
“We’re going to see remarkable services, content, and media algorithmically generated,” Betaworks founder and CEO John Borthwick said at last year’s NYC Media Lab Machines and Media conference. “Over the next five to ten years, things are starting to get really interesting and complex.”
But — RECORD-SCRATCH SOUND EFFECT — wait!
Let’s look at it a different way. Suppose AI becomes the force that frees us from drudgery, so we can avoid rote work. Compare it to the industrial revolution Lee mentioned.
Back then, big machines eliminated jobs and fomented a Luddite rebellion. But today, freed from the need to seed and till fields by hand, we can feed billions more. We have super-fast airplanes and cars, efficient refrigerators, tall skyscrapers, durable highways, and smart phones.
Working with AI, perhaps advertising and media workers will be freed to concentrate on more gratifying, less rote work that in turn enhances the scope of what humans can achieve.
We certainly need AI to handle programmatic advertising in order to make sense of the data stream created by billions of ads tailored to billions of people on billions of screens. There are just too many permutations for any human to deftly divine it all.
Rather than hide in fear or, Luddite-like, disable the machines, those of us in the biz might consider learning how to work with AI to do better than ever. The Gartner study finds that AI will also create 2.3 million jobs – 500,000 more than it eliminates by 2020.
“Some people will be AI’d out of a job,” Gartner’s Tina Nunno said at the consultancy’s most recent yearly symposium. “But the real secret here is AI augmenting people.”