A.I. Ex Machina

Etude de cas, User Experience

3 May, 2018

In Wonderland

Once upon a time in 2007 on planet Earth, a phone suddenly became intelligent. Thanks to the Internet and the Web 2.0, the telephone, which until now was used for calling, texting and laboriously sending emails, began to play the weather girl, the banker, the private secretary, the games console, the sports coach, etc.

It was the blessed time when the smartphone and its legions of applications would revolutionize our world. The artificial intelligence fed to the Web 3.0 then began to invade all the objects of everyday life, even the most harmless: thermostats, locks, fridges, TVs, speakers, cars, even our good old bulbs. Suddenly, all around us, objects have become intelligent. The light bulb turns on and off by itself, the thermostat also, the fridge remotely controls the missing fresh products, the car lets you chat with your smartphone while it drives you alone to your destination.

It’s simple, as long as any object is connected to the Web, it is decreed intelligent.

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The brain drain

Surprisingly, human beings, who are intelligent and now hyper-connected to the Web, would become less smart. Memory at half mast, reduced concentration capacity, our brain would atrophy. To sum up, the Internet would make us stupid.

As a result, a transfer of skills could take place more quickly than expected and have an unfavourable impact on our professional life.

A smart machine or a smart program could write a commercial proposal, an insurance contract, develop a media campaign, but also – as some already imagine – eventually compose a summer hit, a B-series scenario much more effectively than the most experienced professional. And above all… for much cheaper!

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I.A. Ex Machina

It did not take much to baptize I.A (with two beautiful capitals) the one who was born of Number and promised to become the Word of Men. Like a digital divinity capable of magically solving all problems of productivity, profitability, creativity, the I.A. Ex Machina has become the new darling of the media, marketers and business leaders. So long, chatbots (which is good: only one marketing professional out of two knows what a chatbot is and only 46% of marketers working in an SME know what chatbots* are for) and blockchain (who has ever understood how it works?), long live the A.I., promise of unlimited productivity.

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The big replacement?

As in the movie HER, where the hero falls in love with the conversational agent (or vocal agent) of his smartphone, one can think that the I.A. could not only replace his fiancé-e but also his employee.

Let’s do a little foresight exercise. What potential will the A.I. have on the creative economy? And more particularly what positive or negative impact on our com and marketing business? Super-chatbot, dynamic pricing, adaptive content, finer management of passive user interfaces, real-time media manipulation… The field of possibilities seems infinite. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, promises to move “from a mobile-first world to an AI-first world”. Some even think of an AI-only world.

An example: could the I.A. replace a digital agency in the creation of social media campaigns? At first glance, one might think so, because it would know better than anyone else how to analyze thousands of customer or prospect data, concoct a message that meets the needs of each target category, and send it at the right time on the right medium in the format most optimized for each technological platform.

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One way

Yes, but. Because there is a but. Ok an A.I. doesn’t sleep, doesn’t go on holidays, doesn’t get sick (except for a few viruses), doesn’t burn out, speaks all the languages of the world, handles big data like we do the remote control of our smart TV.

Ok the creative people, the designers, the strategic planners with whom we work are like us, desperately human with their share of daily worries: bad sleep, too much drinking, delayed subway, blocked nose… But also their share of exclusively human feelings and emotions. The same feelings and emotions, the same desires that make the human race unique.” Desire is the essence of Man“, as Spinoza wrote.

An A.I., no matter how sophisticated, will never be human. This is an obvious question of nature. You might as well ask a hammer to be a carpenter or an oven to be a cook. The fact is, A.I. is just a tool. A highly technological tool, but a tool created by man and programmed to achieve mainly human objectives. Machine learning will allow men to learn to reach their objectives more finely and quickly, but it would be surprising if, once the job is finished, the I.A decided all alone to devote itself to painting or to go jogging in the forest or to cry while listening to a lamento.

Let us not fall into easy anthropomorphism or into the artifices of artificial intelligence.

For any technology, there are risks,” as Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s CEO, recently pointed out at a conference at University College London. The good or bad consequences of its use depend only on who uses it.

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That’s why the final cut must go back to humans. The idea must precede the means. To resume our prospective exercise in a digital agency, how can we transmit an experience to the client without having lived it or even being able to live it? Then certainly the strategic planner, helped by the power of the A.I. will be able to improve considerably his knowledge of the customer and the tendencies. Certainly the A.I. will be able to increase the fields of expression of the creative and relieve him from repetitive tasks. But in these value propositions, it is the sensitivity of the creative, nourished by his history, his past and present experiences, his unique social interactions, which alone can bring the essential singularity to a creation. This will help to distinguish it in the ambient media noise. Who better than someone who has really suffered in his flesh during a jog, sweaty, finished with cramps and blisters on his feet can boast the merits of an anti-perspirant textile or ultra-comfortable sneakers?

The digital agency will continue to bring to the brand its singularity, that unique human touch that makes the message resonate with the consumer (resonance, like the concept theorized by the German sociologist Harmut Rosa).

Organic is better.

And let us not forget that if A.I. will be a tool at the service of trade, it will also be for the consumer.

In response to A.I.s ready to sell us even what we do not yet suspect want, A.I.s will avoid the traps of these super-influencers like Ad-blockers (24% of Internet users surf with an active Ad-blocker in France**).

I.A against I.A, the consumer may turn to the authenticity of an organic discourse.

The future of the digital agency will then be to claim its 100% organic brains from brands in the face of purely computational orientations.

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*Observatoire des chatbots 2017
**Source eMarketer Avril 2017

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