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Part two: The hot topic of Artificial Intelligence – it is revolutionising how we live, how we do business and how we market
My first article provided an overview of what Artificial Intelligence (AI) is and how it is transforming business, marketing and how we live. To recap, AI is based on creating machines that can think like humans. We are seeing many new developments in AI at an alarming fast pace and with greater efficiency.
The hot topic of AI recently sparked a public dispute between Tech titans Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Musk remarked that the Facebook CEO, Zuckerberg, has “limited” knowledge of the AI field. Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, has been pushing for proactive regulation of AI which he believes is a “fundamental risk to the existence of civilization.” Zuckerberg denounced the warnings as “pretty irresponsible” and “negative.”
We can’t really predict if humanity will face an epic terminator type of robot takeover, however according to Musk, “until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”
What is remarkable is that AI based machines are learning on their own from examples and a system of feedback. Machines can keep improving their systems without human input and are instead solving their own problems.
How machine learning is evolving
Machine learning has mainly advanced in two categories – cognition and perception. For example, voice recognition systems such as Siri, Alexa, Echo and Google assistant, have become three times as fast as typing on a cell phone, with accurate results. Machine learning systems are also proving to be highly efficient digital learners.
Google researchers are working on a new approach that will add an imagination-based system to AI. DeepMind has the potential to include imagination to its planning. “We have seen some tremendous results in this area - particularly in programs like AlphaGo, which use an ‘internal model’ to analyse how actions lead to future outcomes in order to reason and plan. These internal models work so well because environments like Go are ‘perfect’ - they have clearly defined rules which allow outcomes to be predicted very accurately in almost every circumstance.” - Deepmind.com
A recent development from the Facebook AI Research Lab (FAIR), received much excitement in the media when their chatbots started creating and conversing with each other in their own language. The bots evolved from the standard scripts and started communicating in an entirely new language, which they created on their own without any human input. Facebook has since corrected the experiment and we will most likely see more developments in the future when machines don’t follow scripts. The interesting fact here is that Facebook is developing bots that have reasoning capabilities and can negotiate in conversations.
AI in business is already seeing a transformational impact in many industries including health care, retail, manufacturing, travel, finance, education, marketing, law, insurance and more. AI is driving change in business processes, models and occupational tasks.
Here are a few examples of AI impacting industries
Amazon is the world’s largest internet-based retailer by total sales, serving millions of customers across the world. At present, there are approximately 80 million Amazon Prime members making up 64 percent of all households in the United States. Amazon reportedly has 45,000 robots across its 20 fulfilment centres, in conjunction with its 230,000 employees. Amazon Robotics has goals to automate its fulfilment centres by taking advantage of technologies in mobile, robots, drones, control software, language perception, depth sensing systems, machine learning, object and speech recognition.
In health care, machine learning systems can scan and identify various health problems such as potential cancer cells. This frees-up time for health care professionals to focus on other areas such as critical cases, taking care of patients and coordinating with other physicians.
In the financial sector, machine learning is being used in cybersecurity to detect malware, prevent fraud and money laundering. Machine learning/AI is also being used to decide trades on Wall Street, reviewing of loan contracts and analysing credit risks.
AI has the potential to reach superhuman levels of performance in many areas, according to experts. We are already seeing AI in various spheres of business from sales forecasting, HR decisions such as whom to hire, predicting customer needs and expectations. AI and machine learning is based on data and algorithms and these systems are becoming more available to businesses. Microsoft, Google and Salesforce are few examples of companies that provide AI infrastructure via the cloud for businesses.
AI in day-to-day life
If you are using social media, digital personal assistants, google maps, self-driving cars, online banking and shopping, you are already interacting with an AI based system.
A key development in AI is the improvement of image recognition. Image recognition is being used in many areas such as replacing identity cards, social media, self-driving cars and more. When you post a photo with friends on Facebook and other apps, the image is often recognised with people's names popping up and prompting you to tag them.
Google has a Cloud Vision API that enables “developers to understand the content of an image by encapsulating powerful machine learning models in an easy to use REST API. It quickly classifies images into thousands of categories (e.g., "sailboat", "lion", "Eiffel Tower"), detects individual objects and faces within images, and finds and reads printed words contained within images.’’
AI is creating news content, social media prompts and targeted advertising. Many news outlets are using AI to generate news stories, especially for Sports segments. AI content writing programs use vast amounts of data and then structure the information into a ‘human sounding’ article. The AI based program, WordSmith, produced 1.5 billion pieces of content in 2016.
Facebook uses AI to personalise newsfeeds and customise posts based on the individual user’s interests. Facebook’s DeepText “can understand with near-human accuracy the textual content of several thousand posts per second, spanning more than 20 languages.” DeepText can predict user intent, for example, you may want to order a pizza based on what you typed on messenger. You typed “I am hungry” and DeepText predicts you want to order pizza based on your profile analytics. DeepText can analyse information and provide content you are likely to be most interested in.
A positive prediction is that AI will be used in the future to reduce commuting with self-driving cars, ride sharing and smart traffic lights. Experts claim that efficient ride sharing will reduce road traffic by up to 75 percent.
There are many more specific areas where AI is impacting daily life. For example, in the gaming industry and hobbies such as chess. AI has many capabilities and is most likely to become even more integrated into daily life.
Three key ways AI is helping in marketing
Smarter customer journey mapping
AI is creating a more relevant and timely customer journey and interaction based on the individual customer’s requirements. AI is effective in analysing vast amounts of data and algorithms to map out customer patterns. The exciting thing about AI for marketers is that it is making it easier to create customer engagement based on each customer’s purchasing path and individual preferences.
AI is helping to:
“Content marketing is no longer a numbers game. It’s a game of relevance.” ~ Jason Miller
You are most likely familiar with the adage in social media marketing, “Content is King.” This is true when you add a relevant message, on the right channel and at the right time. AI is enabling marketers to target specific messages and content that is relevant and interesting to the individual consumer.
Based on behaviours and preferences, AI systems can help deliver the right message, promotion, solution and product recommendation to each individual. Many companies such as Amazon and Netflix have recommendation systems that prompts the user to check “recommendations” and see what else they maybe “interested in.”
Content curation enables higher engagement on mobile, websites, social media, online shopping, email and digital newsletters by showing content that is specific to the consumer.
There are many content marketing tools available. Platforms such as Salesforce and HubSpot also provide data to help marketers build on customer personas. It is becoming easier to create targeted content, offer the right promotions on the right digital platforms, optimise websites, create mobile apps, and personalise promotional emails due to AI based systems that track user patterns.
How AI is changing customer interaction with brands
AI based chatbots have evolved into understanding natural language without input and direct commands. These external-facing customer agents are proving to be effective in managing large volumes of customer inquiries and responding to requests. Customer response and satisfaction is key for any business or brand, especially in this digital era where brand image ranks high.
Companies such as GE are using machine-learning based systems to help manage customer service requests. GE’s SmartAssist.io system recently raised $5M Series A for its AI-based customer service platform. According to SmartAssist’s CEO, Pradeep Rathinam, “the SmartAssist team plans to expand its service to also support chat-based customer service systems — millennials don’t exactly enjoy picking up the phone to talk to a customer service agent.” Read this article to learn more about SmartAssist.
Chatbots have various features such as responding to customer requests, taking orders on Facebook Messenger, replying to comments and queries on social media. An exciting feature of chatbots is its predictive capabilities. Chatbots can learn from each customer interaction by gathering information and predicting expectations. This information can be used to offer solutions, marketing promotions and advertising based on the customer’s requirements.
Using bots for superior customer engagement, increasing sales and brand engagement
At this year’s F8 conference, Facebook VP of messaging products, David Marcus pointed out “People prefer to use Messenger to interact with companies.” At the conference, Marcus mentioned many companies have increased orders, bookings, sales and productivity due to Facebook Messenger bots. With 1.2 billion active monthly users on Facebook Messenger and 65 million active businesses on Facebook, it is no surprise that Facebook Messenger bots are an effective tool to scale business.
Bots on social platforms are providing an option of instant messaging rather than waiting on the phone for a customer agent or an email response. “Messaging with businesses is on the rise, with over 2 billion messages sent between people and businesses — including automated conversations — each month,” according to Kemal El Moujahid, product manager, Messenger.
“Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say in 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.” — Ray Kurzweil
The subject of AI is so vast and open to debate. What is definite is that AI is in a remarkable growth phase. According to the Analyst Firm, Research and Markets, the global AI market will grow to $23.4 billion by 2025. AI is set to transform the future. Read my article to learn more.