Sentience: PHD on the coming AI revolution and the implications for marketing - a review

9 October 2015
This review is part of a reader offer in partnership with PHD. AdNews is offering the first 100 new subscribers to the AdNews email newsletter a free copy of the book. You can choose a daily or weekly burst of the latest news and insightful media, marketing, advertising and technology news straight to you inbox. Sign up here and read more.

Can you imagine how your ascendance to "AI Aware" might arise? What if, ironically, it's from a little hardback book? Just 101 pages bound within a silver cover with its title demurely embossed in silver foil.

Sentience opens with a Stephen Hawking quote from Google Zeitgeist, perfectly posing the double-edged sword of potential that is artificial intelligence (AI). With technology impacting our lives and livelihoods in so many daily ways, the insights offered in PHD's latest publishing effort brings a sense of place, source and inspiration on a technological world hurtling to its future, determining our future, faster and more thoroughly than we can imagine or keep up with.

Everybody knows the US military commissioned the internet, but did you know that it also birthed Siri? And that Siri, born of SRI International's CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) project, with $150m investment from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is now just an older, dumber cousin of the likes of Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana? Given the revelations in Sentience, those first days of Siri, when we would ask her a question and get a kooky answer back, will seem very, very simple times indeed.

Where were you when you first tested Siri? And now there's Viv - an AI platform that will allow other companies to tap into the technology and spin off a multitude of applications. These new generation apps will understand why the user is engaging with them and be able to cross-reference, predict, suggest, curate and contextualise.

It's all leading to the not-too-distant arrival of the Sentient Virtual Personal Assistant. These will change marketers lives forever by changing everyone else's.

The book's many examples humanise the technology, with plenty of back story on the inventors themselves. There's a strong biological theme through the content. AI has centrally been modelled on our limited but growing understanding of the human brain and the biology of its processes. The personalisation of AI, growing to where it no longer needs our input, Ray Kurzweil's, Singularity, complements a more immediate view of the potential: AI as a utility. Like water or electricity supply, AI will serve and influence us from behind the scenes, in ways we won't recognise, unless it fails.

We don't care much about the technics of electricity supply, until the lights go out. AI, woven through the Internet of Things (IoT), across our daily functioning, will channel through our VPAs, as and when necessary. These 'as necessary' moments will be rare windows of opportunity to reach both the VPA and the consumer at once, but mostly, you'll need to convince VPAs of brand and service alternatives instead of the consumer, most of the time. But you will still need to know the consumer and envisage how well their VPA knows them - perhaps exploiting any gaps. Marketing to the algorithm will be essential.

So much of the human condition rests in the seeking to be understood. AI resolves that quest with the aggregation, mining and reapplication of personal understandings - en masse. Leveraging the collective consciousness for personal relevance in decision-making. We won't just feel understood, AI will really be understanding us. It will have distilled and configured the data of human nature, so that, like IBM's Watson and its groundbreaking mastery of the game show Jeopardy, the human race will have all the answers.

So what are our questions? Will sublime data management and machine learning algorithms bring the consumer to "self-actualisation"? What, how and why will they be buying once there? What will happen to the mass appeal, marketing and custodianship of brands? If it's the greatest challenge to marketing that ever existed, your sentient VPA will no doubt ask: "What is AI?"

Sentience is easy reading on a complex subject. With a dozen co-authors and 21 contributors, there's a huge amount of well-referenced and beautifully sequenced content over its five core chapters.

 
This review is part of a reader offer in partnership with PHD. AdNews is offering the first 100 new subscribers to the AdNews email newsletter a free copy of the book. You can choose a daily or weekly burst of the latest news and insightful media, marketing, advertising and technology news straight to you inbox. Sign up here and read more.
We've also pulled 20 keywords from the book, useful for further and ongoing theme exploration online:

#Mooreslaw #Universaltranslator #autonomousvehicle #anticipatoryshipping #Googlechauffeur #turingtest #Eugenegoostman #neuralnetwork #deeplearning #googlebrain #machinelearningalgorythms #reinforcementlearning #singularity2045 #kurzweilreadingmachine #narrativescience #curalate #gazemetrix #neuromorphic #neuralprocessingunits #preemptivemarketing

 

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at adnews@yaffa.com.au

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

Read more about these related brands, agencies and people

comments powered by Disqus