Ever since the start of the industrial revolution, humans have been consistently and increasingly losing employment to the very machines they’ve created. In fact according to global management consultant McKinsey & Company, an estimated 45% of today’s work activities could be automated by existing technology. Enter automation and artificial intelligence. Previously unconsidered in the last few years, artificial intelligence has finally established legitimate uses within the workplace, pioneered by products such as IBM’s AI interface aptly named Watson.  Nobody likes to admit it but everybody knows it, the fact of the matter is that there are many jobs, or aspects of a job, that can be done faster, better and cheaper by an automated process or machine. But how could artificial intelligence reproduce creativity? Surely jobs that require creativity can’t be confined to a simple repetitious task to be automated. Creativity is so uniquely human and deeply interwoven within the human experience, that it may very well be the last stand against the machines.

So, what actually is artificial intelligence?
If you’re anything like me, Artificial Intelligence is an all too common term to which I never gave more than a few seconds of thought.  AI always felt like a half-serious futuristic possibility that came packaged with a mental image of C3PO. The reality is quite the opposite. AI is a very present technology that is finally gaining a firm footing.  Thanks to IBM’s massive advertising undertaking and global reach, the most widely recognized product of artificial intelligence is their own computer system “Watson”.  Artificial Intelligence, and more specifically Watson, is the idea that databases can be built to be self-teaching by processing questions posed in natural language and taking multiple contextual factors into consideration when searching for an answer.  When asked a question, Watson itself combs through its entire database at a speed of 500 gigabytes (or about 3 million books) per second.  It then generates a hypothesis, gathers evidence, and analyzes the data all on its own. Instead of a normal search query which aims to provide a list of the most closely related results to a list of keywords, Watson seeks to understand in much greater detail; taking into account contextual clues such as, time, location, gender, etc. Watson then weighs all answers and only gives an answer if a certain confidence threshold is reached. Aside from being a $3 million dollar Siri, Watson has found many practical applications in technologically advanced fields such as healthcare, e-commerce, and financial services.

Watson wins Jeopardy, beating 74 win streak competitor Ken Jennings.

Play Jeopardy against Watson!

But how can AI be used in the creative field?
We all know that advertising is a beautiful mess blend of creativity and strategy, so why not employ artificial intelligence to help out with both? Believe it or not, AI is already being used in advertising. M&C Saatchi, an advertising agency in London has the so-called ‘world’s first’ artificially intelligent advertisement. Near the subway in London, an advertisement armed with a camera takes video of people who observe the ads and analyzes their body language.  If it deems their reactions as being satisfied or unsatisfied, it changes the advertisement accordingly.  To do this, developers uploaded thousands of images, fonts, and visuals with which the program recreates the ad over and over again based on past decisions. The idea is to use data from the artificial intelligence to understand advertising trends.  Initial data from the AI ad suggests that words exclusively in upper case and shorter sentences are the current trend. An increased importance placed on data collection and interpretation in the advertising field has opened up many doors for artificial intelligence to make an impact.  Although the adoption seems to be slow to start, marketing and advertising are sure to see incremental yet monumental changes in the workplace due to the versatility of AI.


Not to worry graphic designers, AI isn’t coming for you… yet.