I've written a lot of columns exhorting marketers to jump into artificial intelligence and learn it like their lives depend on it. Make that "livelihoods." You see, I know something you may not. After nearly four decades as a technology journalist, I observed firsthand the increasing tempo of tech-wrought change. And in the new world ruled by network effects, when a company falls behind, it's almost impossible to recover.
I have a confession: AI ethics makes my brain hurt. The issues and questions are that big. Never mind corporate behavior; people, governments, policies and global geopolitics will all evolve differently depending on how we answer those questions. My brain is hurting right now. But if you're a marketer planning to use AI, you're going to hurt a lot more than your brain if you don't start examining the ethical questions. I
It seems to me the science of AI (technology that artificially replicates the way the human brain perceives, reacts and learns) is regularly underappreciated. We naturally take for granted the human brain's ability to perform simple tasks such as listening and understanding, or seeing and identifying -- but these brain functions have evolved over millions of years to become refined and automatic. What's required for a computer to mimic these capabilities shouldn't be underestimated.
When you follow artificial intelligence, you're constantly reading about how this company or that one is developing systems that learn the way people learn, or that mimic the way the human brain works. So, no surprise: I've talked to prominent AI developers who study neuroscience. Consequently, I started reading popular brain books (for lay people). I eventually worked my way up to the challenging and ambitious "Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain," by noted UC Berkeley neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. I've written before about a seminal quote of his from a previous book: "Humans are not either thinking machines ...
"Be prepared" is more than just the Boy Scout's solemn creed, or a fun-but-obscure song by Tom Lehrer, the great singer-songwriter-satirist and retired Harvard math professor. It's what marketers should do right now to get ready for the post-modern age of artificial intelligence hurtling toward them.
When it comes to discussing AI technology in marketing, there's a lot of hype. Marketers appear to be in violent agreement that solutions powered by AI will be cranking ROI through personalized customer experiences, better understanding of customer behavior, management of real-time interactions across channels, etc. -but where are we really on the path to cashing in on these promises?
Here are the top four advertising/marketing AI tech startups, according to CB Insights and Fortune magazine.
Often the best way to learn about a new field -- especially one that is both complex and noisy, like AI -- is to watch people who are truly proficient at it. What do they talk about? What do they spend their time working on, and what things do they ignore? Here are five people I have found particularly insightful on topics ranging from neural networks, to self-driving cars, social robotics, natural language processing and AI startup investing. I highly recommend paying close attention to all of them this year.
Acquisitions targeting artificial intelligence technologies continued to accelerate in the second quarter, at least in number. They fell in value (below $1 billion, in all) because deals like Intel's $15.3 billion first-quarter offer for Mobileye don't come along every quarter.
When a friend introduced me to Esther Dyson -- technology thought leader and investor -- I jumped at the chance to ask about her ideas on AI.