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‘AI Cannot Replace Human Touch Or Creativity’

In a chat with Ruhail Amin, he speaks about the changing dynamics of advertising in the wake of disruptive technology and how advertisers are coming to terms with this shift

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Prasoon Joshi, Chairman APAC, CEO and Chief Creative Officer at McCann India, who received a special citation from  the Abbys at Goafest 2018 for his contributions to advertising, believes there is no alternative to human creativity, though he is all for the co-existence of AI and human touch.  In a chat with Ruhail Amin, he speaks about the changing dynamics of advertising in the wake of disruptive technology and how advertisers are coming to terms with this shift. 

You were a part of the master jury this year. Can you tell us about the key areas the jury wanted to improve?
One important feedback was about when you do integrated campaigns, there are many stakeholders in it. There used to be times when only one agency did all the work. Today, you have an events company, a content creator who is also contributing. So when you look at the overall integrated campaign for a brand, to be fair, we have to at least mention every contributor who has contributed. It’s like one painting, which is in bits and pieces, and contributed by many people. So the painting is incomplete if you take two persons’ contribution out of that.

Your work continues to inspire and guide new talent. The Abbys this year has once again recognised your contribution. How special is this peer group honour from the numerous awards and accolades that you have received so far?
This industry is home to me. Advertising is where I have been brought up. When I came to this industry, I had no clue what I would do with the wiring I had in my head. This is the place where I learnt the art of storytelling and I nurtured my interest in music. I think it’s a great industry in terms of collaboration. And when your peer group honours you, it is a different feeling completely.  It has an immense amount of warmth and I cherish this honour.

How is technology shaping contemporary advertising?
In today’s world, there is fear that technology is changing so rapidly that creativity and amusement can be confused. After some time you might run out of amusement, but craft can make the difference.  Craft has the power to say the same thing again and yet sound fresh and new. Creativity is not science, its art. Artificial intelligence (AI) and data are science. So science will go hand in hand with art, but let’s not confuse the two.  

Can human creativity and AI co-exist in advertising and how?

 How AI in advertising will work is that you would feed a lot of scripts and what has been done before, and AI would do permutations and combinations to create fresh things out of them. But writers or creative people don’t do permutations and combinations of work done before. With AI, I feel it would be difficult to touch upon an emotion that has never been touched before. Most importantly, when you are developing AI, you are feeding in ‘already-been-expressed’ emotions. AI’s inability to experience raw emotion, which humans have, will form the crux of the AI vs human creativity debate in the time to come.

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Magazine 14 April 2018 Prasoon Joshi

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