Dave Coplin

Chief Envisioning Officer for Microsoft UK
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Artificial intelligence: Humans and machines are better together

Today, people are more connected than ever before – and this complexity of technology connections is creating a wealth of data. Thanks to the magic of machine learning, this data is fueling intelligence that is empowering humans to do more and in turn creating new opportunities for marketers.

Artificial intelligence is in fact not artificial at all, it is a web of intelligence surfacing the most pertinent elements at the right time for the right purpose – and enabling humans to make the choices that are right for them. Ubiquitous relationships between humans and technology mean that machines are already informing decisions all around us. From suggesting the next item to buy in your favourite clothes store, to providing you with discount offers on items that your supermarket knows you’re going to buy, these are all based on a cumulative understanding of what you like.

And of course, there are communications services like virtual personal assistants – true evidence of humans and machines working in concert. This is the realm that is leading the synergy between humans and machines resulting in conversation acting as the new ‘user interface’ for creating more personal computing - informing the creation of new digital experiences that interact more naturally through bots, text, voice and video.

So the machines are intelligent, and they are learning a lot from us, but where does action come into it? The short answer: The humans choose.

Automated intelligence will enable technology to act on our behalf, if we chose it to. But the emphasis is on the active involvement of the person – we might want technology to complete a painful task, for example, freeing us to do more of the things we really care about. Importantly, artificial intelligence also provides people with a filter on the data, empowering them to take action themselves.

With technology switching focus from data management into intelligent action, brands need to understand the nuances of changing consumer behaviour and how artificial intelligence can be used to extend engagement. Brands today are an enabler of experiences.

For instance, on its 100th birthday Coca Cola celebrated with Cortana Analytics, using How-old.net – which analyses data including facial imagery to gain insights around age and gender. This technology detected individual objects in pictures, in turn identifying bottles and branding the users screen red. The campaign showcased the potential of real-time analytics and machine learning and within a week more that 380 million images had been submitted to the site by 50 million users worldwide.

In order for artificial intelligence to reach its full potential, brands need to be transparent and instil trust in consumers for data sharing. A lack of trust in artificial intelligent machines, with fears of being ‘taken over’ by technology, is a major barrier to close relationships forming between technology and humans – a relationship that is needed in order for artificial intelligence to work. While some may think artificial intelligence is long way from affecting their day to day, brands must get a handle on how best to utilise its superpowers before it’s too late. We’re on the cusp of a generational change in how we think about computing. The power and accuracy of AI complements the creativity and emotion of humans. Together they are more powerful than either is alone.

 

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