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Don’t be emotional about artificial intelligence

Posted by Paula Fifield on 26th January 2017

I’ve been learning a lot about artificial intelligence (I thought the term had a really familiar ring to it from my youth, but later realised the phrase I’d heard a lot as a kid was ‘average intelligence’…) robotics and autonomous systems this week.

In almost every industry, there’s a lot of talk about whether AI is going to replace jobs or help humans do their jobs better. And I now know first-hand how, when faced with an AI solution that has the potential to do your very own job better (at least in part) or more efficiently than you, you can find yourself developing an eye-twitch fairly pronto.

Yesterday, while researching a new business prospect in an entirely different area of AI, I stumbled across a company that develops email marketing language software using AI, which claims to write more effective subject lines (and, as my imagination ran screaming away with me, presumably headlines too) than humans. This was the trigger for my screen winking.

My first instinct, what with this solution being a bit close to home for my right eye to be comfortable with, was to feel defensive about it. “I bet it can’t take a client to the pub and listen to them bemoan their organization because comms isn’t valued in the business as much as it should be” was my first thought, already demonstrating a level of contempt for this solution as I would a human that had just been hired in above me – which, in retrospect was quite harsh given I’d only read the opening paragraph of the website at this point.

However, having taken a bit of time to regain my rationality, it occurred to me that this technology could actually be really useful for me and our client services teams. If we knew, without a doubt, that this tech could deliver a better result than we could ourselves, surely we should shift the task of writing headlines/subject lines onto the software, leaving us to focus on other – more valuable parts of a client’s campaign.

And so, this little voyage of discovery has given me a new found confidence in our future with AI. No doubt there will be instances where jobs are indeed replaced to the detriment of humans – both directly and indirectly, but I reckon there will be many more instances where AI enhances our lives, making things easier, more efficient and maybe, in some of the more critical applications than writing headlines – possibly even safer. That’s got to be a good thing, right?

Photo credit.

Paula Fifield

Paula began working with the agency in 2007 as Business Development Director and was appointed as a board director in 2011. Prior to Wildfire, Paula worked at Sun Microsystems, Orange and Morse Group in a range of marketing, customer relationship management and business development roles.