- Tony Quin
One of the most important things brands expect from their agencies, according to a recent survey in the SoDA Report, are insights on what’s coming next. No sooner do we get comfortable than technology has a nasty habit of changing things up.
At the SoDA annual meeting of the leaders of 100 of the world’s top digital agencies last week, I listened to the always brilliant technologist Rick Barraza from Microsoft, as he painted an exciting, if somewhat dystopian, picture of the fairly immediate future.
While we all think we know Moore’s law, Rick reminded us that while we had hit 5mm transistors on a single chip in 1995, IBM managed to get 7BN on a single chip this year. If Moore’s law continues, and it hasn’t failed yet, that’s 14BN coming next year. According to Rick this kind of computing power is making the fantasies of artificial intelligence come true already. For example using 100 “likes” as data points, AI can predict what someone will choose better than their parents. With 200 “likes” AI makes better predictions than someone’s spouse, and no one knows you better than your spouse.
Rick described a rapidly approaching world in which our AI driven devices become primarily digital assistants. Siri is just the beginning. Imagine computers so powerful that you don’t need to fiddle with a screen, your assistant just takes care of whatever it is. This will become even more powerful when your assistant is connected to micro devices all around you with the “Internet of Things”. He went on to describe the next paradigm as one where “visuals under glass” is no longer the experience model and these mobile HALs take over.
While exciting (boy, do I need a good assistant), it’s also a bit scary. As a marketer I wonder what this might mean for how we serve customers and prospects. What will a brand need to do to be valuable? As an individual I wonder about the sanctity and privacy of my personality. If machines know me better than anyone, do I lose control of who I am? I am not the only one worried about this as the giants of today’s technology from Bill Gates to Elon Musk have raised their hands to voice serious concerns about unchecked AI. Despite those concerns technological change keeps pouring out of Pandora’s box and we are unlikely to be able to control it.