What Happens to Marketing When AI Can Write Like Humans?
The simplest way to understand artificial intelligence is to think about it as a set of technologies and algorithms that are designed to make machines smart, to give them humanlike capabilities (e.g. vision, hearing, speech, writing, understanding, movement).
Specifically, machine learning, a primary type of AI, makes machines smarter at making predictions.
Sometimes, what may seem on the surface like a simple prediction can have an immeasurably profound impact on the future.
What Would a Human Driver Do?
For example, the effort to build truly autonomous vehicles, which would transform society and save millions of lives, is insanely complex. However, when you break it down to its most basic goal, companies like Tesla are trying to build AI systems that predict what a good, focused human driver would do.
So, the autonomous system doesn’t have to be programmed what to do in every situation, it just needs to learn, through billions of miles of training, “what would a human driver do?”
Using AI to Predict the Next Word
How about writing? How could an AI system learn to write as well, or better than, a human?
Well, in theory, it would simply need to continuously predict the next word based on what has already been written.
Sounds crazy, but if you use Gmail, you see it done every day when the system suggests words to finish your sentences. Or, when you reply to text messages using the suggested responses on your iPhone.
There aren’t humans hiding away somewhere at Google and Apple feverishly predicting what you’ll want to say next and sending you recommendations. No, it’s AI. You don’t care as a consumer that it’s AI, but you sure do appreciate the convenience it provides.
And that’s just the beginning. There is a race to train AI systems to generate human language at scale. When achieved, the implications, both good and bad, are immense.
A Breakthrough in Language Generation
OpenAI, a non-profit AI research company backed by the likes of Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman, has built an AI model, GPT-2, to do just that, and the results have massive implications.
According to OpenAI, “GPT-2 displays a broad set of capabilities, including the ability to generate conditional synthetic text samples of unprecedented quality.”
OpenAI goes on to say, “GPT-2 generates synthetic text samples in response to the model being primed with an arbitrary input. The model is chameleon-like — it adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text. This allows the user to generate realistic and coherent continuations about a topic of their choosing.”
GPT-2 could be used to create and improve AI writing assistants, intelligent chat bots, speech recognition solutions and language translation.
But, it could also be applied to generate fake content, create impersonations of people online and produce spam campaigns at scale.
The GPT-2 model has such substantial implications for malicious use that OpenAI chose not to release the trained model. The organization’s hope is that by limiting the release they will give the AI community more time to discuss the larger effects of such systems.
What Does it Mean For Marketing?
So, back to figuring out what blog post title will get the most impressions or which customer is most likely to churn, for a moment.
While the marketing industry, generally speaking, is still at the beginning stages of understanding and applying artificial intelligence to advertising, audience segmentation, content marketing, email marketing, sales, SEO and strategy, the world is racing ahead.
Most marketers would be shocked to learn AI technology that exists today can write email subject lines, micro-target personas, manage digital ad spend, predict open and conversion rates, and identify gaps in content strategy better than humans.
Imagine when technology like what OpenAI has built finds its way into the marketing industry.
The future may be much closer than most marketers would want to believe.
Join Us for the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference (MAICON)
We are in the infancy of AI adoption as an industry. You and your organization have the opportunity now to be proactive in advancing knowledge and capabilities before your competitors beat you to it.
AI does not replace humans in most instances, but, rather, enhances human knowledge and capabilities. In essence, AI can give marketers and brands superpowers. Marketers who take the initiative to learn and experiment with AI will be able to:
Drive revenue growth.
Increase productivity and efficiency.
Generate greater ROI on marketing spend.
So, how do you get started with, and scale, artificial intelligence in your marketing?
Join us at the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference (MAICON), July 16 - 18, 2019, and help write the next chapter of marketing together.
About Paul Roetzer
Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint and The Marketing Agency Blueprint, and creator of The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute and Marketing Score. Full bio.