AI: The Way of the Future?

Typically, when people hear the words “artificial intelligence” they immediately envision Will Smith battling it out with life-like robots in a futuristic world.

But what people may not realize is that we’re already utilizing artificial intelligence in our daily lives.

Have you ever browsed through Netflix’s “recommended for you” section? Or asked Siri one of life’s most pressing questions like, “what should I eat for dinner tonight?” Both of those systems are forms of artificial intelligence.

So what is the official definition of artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a type of technological system that demonstrates at least some type of behavior associated with human intelligence, such as planning, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion and manipulations, and to a lesser extent, social intelligence and creativity.

AI can be broken out into three distinct categories: narrow artificial intelligence (ANI), general artificial intelligence (AGI) and superior artificial intelligence (ASI).

ANI includes things such as anti-lock brakes, spam filters, Google’s search engine and voice-based assistants like Siri and Alexa/Amazon Echo.

AGI is what the science and technology community is striving toward now, and includes programs that can reason, plan and handle complex concepts, such as self-driving cars.

ASI is more of what Will Smith encountered in I, Robot. It includes programs that are smarter than all of the collective minds on earth. Which, for a lot of us (including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawkings), isn’t something we want to reach anytime soon.

However, it may be closer than we think. In fact, according to the Cowen and Company Multi-Sector Equity Research Study, 81 percent of IT leaders are currently investing or planning to invest in AI. And it is predicted that the AI market will grow to be a $47 billion industry in 2020.

Even AI systems are predicting a huge surge in AI in the next hundred years. (I know, talk about tooting your own horn.) AI predicts that there’s a relatively high chance that AI will beat humans at all tasks within the next 45 years, will automate all human jobs within 120 years, will master writing a best seller by 2049 and will work as a surgeon by 2053.

The rise of AI in everyday life also presents marketers with some unique opportunities for connecting with customers at different points within the sales funnel.

For example, facial recognition technology could allow marketers to cater messages to customers while they’re out and about in the world, simply by recognizing their faces as they pass by different touch points. Imagine a world where every billboard or poster you encountered had a message that was unique to your wants or needs. Pretty revolutionary, huh?

Amazon is currently working on an anticipatory shipping project, where it could ship items to your door before you need them, based on your previous buying habits. Imagine knowing exactly where your customer is in the buying process all year long — it would definitely have the potential to either show off your customer service capabilities or significantly creep people out.

Ultimately, there is a fine line that we tread as we create AI that is beneficial to society as a whole. Where does the helpfulness of AI end and intrusiveness begin? As marketers, it’s a line we need to be cognizant of as we strive to better understand our customers and how to reach them.

What are your thoughts on AI? Is it something to be feared or revered?