By Jennifer Fischer, Chief Innovation & Growth Officer, Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey.
Welcome to Communicate's first-ever AI Special! Tag along as we speak to marketers, advertisers, ad agency titans, chief marketing maestros, and digital visionaries on all things AI during our September 7 AI Conference. In this episode, we're playing 'Guess the AI-generated Poem' with Jennifer Fischer, Chief Innovation & Growth Officer, Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey. Play along!
Sometimes, a good metaphor is what you need, like when we talked about the Internet as an “Information Highway” to simplify the concepts of data transmission and connectivity in the late 90s. Or when we talk about the atom as a “mini solar system”.
Metaphors are great because they help us simplify, they help us visualize, and they help shift our perspective. They're memorable and most of all, they are fun.
So, here’s one to shift the conversation we are having on AI: we should consider our encounter with AI, just like we would an encounter with aliens.
A movie that inspired me is Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) by Steven Spielberg. At the climactic moment, a spaceship lands, and the movie culminates in a profound encounter between humans and extraterrestrial beings.
This is essentially the moment of connection. It's the point of contact. And this is where I believe we are with AI. We are at that point where what we do will shape the deep transformations that will come going forward. We're experiencing our own close encounter of the third kind with AI.
And AI is similar to aliens in many ways.
It's different and unknown from humans. It's a weird thing to say this about something that we have created, yet it is very true. In movies, when we try to understand how an alien works, we often open it up and perform an autopsy. This is difficult with generative AI systems.
We use the term “black box” a lot. That is to say that the inner workings of a generative AI are not fully transparent or easily understandable to us. Deep learning models consist of numerous interconnected layers with a vast number of parameters, and they operate in a non-linear way. This means that it's difficult to identify how the model arrives at its decisions, and that's why now we're working towards explainable models of “white box” while still trying to preserve while still trying to preserve accuracy in AI.
Just like aliens, AI is also full of media hype. We can easily imagine that an alien invasion would get 24-hour-a-day coverage. And when it comes to AI, we have seen a dramatic increase in interest. Today, AI has around 14 billion search results. Now, to contextualize, this hype, it’s important to remember that the stock markets, investments, and venture capitalists are very influenced by media, so getting coverage is critical for tech firms. Plus, in the last 30 years, the number of journalists has been cut by half, while the number of PR executives has gone up sixfold. All of this has a big impact on how much media hype takes place around technology.
Just like aliens, AI also triggers a fear of extinction. Today, there are over 86 million search results for “AI extinction”, and the top articles are from pretty serious sources, like the BBC, the New York Times or Time magazine; not, weird conspiracy theorists in their garage.
So all this makes us wonder, how will this encounter between AI and humans take place?
The good news is that we already have a first benchmark. A first encounter has already happened, and this is the encounter with the more primitive sort of AI. The AI that lives on social platforms and search engines is the AI driving engagement, recency and relevance. This encounter has given us a blueprint for what's going to come next, and while there have been negatives coming out of this encounter, there are also positives.
On one hand, we have created an era of fake news, information overload, filter bubbles, privacy concerns, and addiction. On the other hand, we have unlocked unprecedented access to learning, improvement in productivity, information and communication sharing, social activism, business growth, and more creativity and self-expression than ever before.
So, it's not all positive, but it's not all negative either.
Now we are coming to a second close encounter with generative large language multi-modal models. This is the AI that's impacting chatbots, that is creating text generation but also image, video generation, digital humans, speech, code, music, gaming, 3D, all the way to UX. It will have a massive impact on our world.
And so how will we thrive in this new close encounter with AI?
Simple. By following the same rules that we would follow in case of an alien encounter. If an alien encounter happened, it would be just as important to know ourselves and to learn about the other. That means truly understanding what makes us human, understanding that humans are more than just our intelligence, our ability to problem solve, to understand, to have creativity and abstract thinking. Humans have sapience with our understanding of insights and culture, our ability to make judgments and to have common sense. We have sentience with feelings, sensations, and emotions which drive instincts and intuition. We have consciousness with emotions and thoughts. We must understand the full extent of our nature and our abilities.
And we must also be able to understand the nature of AI. The way that a deep learning model trains, the way that the Transformer models have created a breakthrough, but also the limitations that come through it. Today's AI is very capable; it’s very competent, but it's doing so without true comprehension. It lacks context, common sense, emotions, and an understanding of ambiguity.
Success in this new encounter lies in being able to understand the similarities, the differences, and leveraging both sides in the right way.
It's also about preparing for the worst and expecting the best, like what we would do in an alien encounter. Preparing for the worst in our case is ensuring that we develop the rights rules and regulations that we plan for intellectual property, bias, privacy, and any critical danger.
But it’s also ensuring that we do engage AI to drive impact for the world and for humanity.
Just like in any encounter with aliens, it’s also important to keep our moral compass close and to be intentional in our actions and their consequences. Maybe in the first encounter that we had with AI, we didn't ask the question “If it works, what will happen then?” enough. Today, we must think beyond successful implementation and think about the consequences.
Finally, we must leverage what makes us human: our originality and empathy. We must bring our unique personal perspectives, our values, and our creativity.
All of this can make this new close encounter between AI and humans and the transformations that will come from it more fulfilling and rewarding.
And hopefully, together we might tip the balance to a more positive outcome, not just for our teams, our businesses, our industries, and our countries, but for humanity as a whole.
This article is part of Communicate's AI Special. All insights were first presented at Communicate's first-ever AI Conference.