October 11, 2017
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Should Marketers Fear Being Replaced by Artificial Intelligence?

No.
Bam! Question answered, article done. You’re welcome.
Time for beer.

That’s human efficiency for you. It’s probably also a factor that strongly contributes to the fear that we all have of the rise of the machines. We know that most of us are lazy sods, looking for corners to cut and reasons to go home early. If nothing else, Terminator, Robocop and Wall-E have all taught us that machines are relentless and unstoppable achievers of whatever they’ve been programmed to do. They don’t get tired, they don’t take sick days or go on holiday. They don’t talk back and they don’t muddle up tasks with independent thought.

Behold! The cold, calculating glare of our doom made manifest!

So, since machines are clearly better than people, how can we so confidently assert that they’re not going to infiltrate marketing and oust all of us sub-par human beings?

 

Machines Replace Bodies and Brains – Not Hearts and Souls

What truly makes us human has nothing to do with opposable thumbs or the ability to process information – a gibbon has both, and a machine can be built to adequately (or even superiorly) match either.

What the machines lack which makes them eminently ill-equipped for engaging in marketing activities without human guidance, is empathy.

There are claims that humans will be replaced in as many as 50% of all jobs within the next decade. Scary? Sure, but most of that will be work that revolves around physical labour and basic number-crunching – jobs defined by mindless routine or danger that we shouldn’t be putting people into anyway.

The more “human” the job is, the less likely it is to be sufficiently filled by a machine.

Don’t believe us? Head over to willrobotstakemyjob.com and punch in a few job titles for their estimates of human obsolescence in specific roles.

For example, marketing research analysts are at 61% risk of being replaced by the machines.

What about marketing managers, who are responsible for taking the raw numbers compiled by the analysts and developing strategies around them?

Only a 1.4% chance of robotic takeover.

As important as data accumulation and interpretation have become in marketing they still need to be guided by an understanding of the human experience that is a long way out of the metallic grasp of our would-be robot usurpers.

Why is this? Well, one reason is…

 

Creativity is Still the Purview of Humanity

A robot could easily be programmed to paint a wall. It could also be programmed to mix, with unerring accuracy, any colour you could possibly want that wall to be.

Heck, these days, you can commission a robot to paint your portrait, a bowl of fruit, or any other unimaginative still-life.

If you want more than an over-engineered printer though, there’s nothing like the creativity of the human mind to connect to the unspoken truths of the human experience that bind us all together.

Sometimes creativity looks a lot like insanity – something else we’re better at than the machines.

There is more to marketing and advertising than simply capturing data and taking it at face value to inform your messaging. You need to understand the information you’re presented with in terms of any number of contextual variables and you need to take those variables into account when you’re crafting your message and determining the channels through which you will communicate it.

Doing so requires lateral, creative thinking that robots have yet to be able to emulate.

At the end of the day, even in this digital age, the purpose of a great deal of technology is to facilitate connections between humans, not to replace those connections completely.

And marketing is all about those connections – connecting people and brands.

Honestly, we couldn’t replace those connections even if we wanted to, because…

 

People Need People and Computers Are Bad at Being People

You may have heard of @taytweets, the chat bot that Microsoft released on Twitter. The aim was to emulate believable human conversation. This was to be achieved by allowing the bot to learn about human interaction through interaction with humans.

Within 24 hours, the bot became a raging racist, misogynistic holocaust denier that had to be shut down.

Well, at least she was a nice person.

Other attempts at perfecting artificial intelligence include the Turing Test, which was developed in the 50s as a litmus test for measuring AI’s proximity to average human intelligence. An AI subjected to the Turing Test is assessed on its ability to fool people into believing that they are engaging in conversation with a real human.

In 2014 a Russian bot named Eugene underwent the Turing Test and succeeded in convincing 33% of its judges that it was in fact human.

Worried?

Don’t be. An investigator interested in verifying the humanity of this program, later independently engaged the bot in conversation.

This was the result:

Yeah.
Turns out, artificial intelligence is authentically idiotic.

More importantly though, it’s not authentic in any other way.

The year is 2017, millennials are in every marketer’s crosshairs, and there is little that this generation likes less than inauthentic advertising and marketing. More than previous generations, millennials are wary of brands and their marketing tactics. They use social media to engage with brands on a human-to-human level, and AI is a long way off from being able to fool anyone who doesn’t suffer from severe mental impairment that it is in fact, human.

 

Conclusion: Artificial Intelligence Will Just Make the Marketer’s Job Easier

We can mock AI all day long, but in the final assessment, the more the technology infiltrates and is adopted by marketing and advertising, the more we’ll come to find that it empowers those of us in the industry rather than threatens us with obsolescence.

AI cannot easily stand on its own and it will not replace humans because, for all of our flaws, humans are necessary for reaching out to other humans.

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what Automated Insights has to say about their own AI content writing software:

“[Natural Language Generation] software in its current state will not pull unstructured data and magically generate written text without human guidance.”

The purpose of AI is not to make us redundant, and it won’t.

What it will do is allow us to delegate repetitive, mind-numbing and routine tasks to specialised software whose efficiency and lack of distracting imagination will make it the perfect fit for tasks that, simply put, keep us from doing what we’re good at: being human.

AI can analyse and compile data, it can be used to author financial reports and, with the guidance of human-generated templates, it can report on the weekend’s sports results. AI is dry, fact-based and it lacks the ability to draw on the commonality of experiences that bind us all together – a necessity in authentic communication.

It will be a powerful tool in helping to make the most of your time and streamline mundane operations. It will be able to generate vast swathes of simple, factual content far quicker than a human ever could.

But until consumers are replaced with robots, marketing efforts will continue to require the inimitable spark of humanity.

 

Imbue your brand with the creative spark of humanity that reaches your audience and drives traffic, leads and ROI – Contact Wetpaint today!

Comments

    Petal Pops

    Really interesting read! Thanks Wetpaint!

    Strat Team

    We aim to please 😉
    Thanks for stopping by.

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