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BW Businessworld

AI’s Biggest Challenge Will Be EI

As industry’s most lauded tech companies make strides in the artificial intelligence (AI) race, the biggest challenge will come from EI (emotional intelligence)

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fascinating for many reasons. Compared to other tech that can connect, has utilities, and can even transform lives, AI is also fun. The prospect of a personal assistant that needs no pay, is probably more efficient and has no attitude, is appealing. Speaking to your tablets, laptops, cars and have them answer back — are, however, a very limited scope of what AI promises.

The year 2017 saw major players bring out the best of their virtual assistants — Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. In Asia, Baidu too developed a speech recognition engine called Deep Speech 2 and combined it with intelligent search technology to create Duer, a robotic personal assistant. India is yet to really go all out with a big AI push of its own, but the market will see the benefits of AI nonetheless.

IBM Watson, for instance, is working aggressively with small- and medium-sized companies and startups in the market. It has nearly 60 application programming interfaces (API) that are embedded into various products and services.

Chatbots is another case of making use of AI.

Facebook has been conducting tests of M, an AI-powered virtual assistant that runs on its Messenger platform. Mercedes became the first automobile brand in India to launch a Facebook Messenger chatbot to commemorate the 50th anniversary of AMG, the high performance division of Mercedes-Benz. The chatbot unlocks the AMG journey of 50 years through a narrative, which gives fans a chance to test their AMG knowledge with a quiz and gets them to travel through time, creating a custom video for each fan.

AI is yet to unfold its full potential for marketing, but the change has begun. Marketing is becoming more conversational in nature. The better brands become at having meaningful conversations with consumers, the more relevant their marketing efforts will be.

In that context, the question that arises is what challenges will the AI face. If the human experience is anything to go by, one of AI’s biggest opponents will be EI (emotional intelligence). Let’s face it, as a woman, I know a 5 inch heel, no matter the occasion, is not the best footwear. But despite that, it would not stop me from donning them for special occasions, the launch of the BW Businessworld Marketing Whitebook on 21 July in Delhi or 28 July in Mumbai for instance.

As intelligent beings, we know bad decisions when we make them — unhealthy eating, compromising on sleep, missing walks or gym, delaying deadlines — but we do it all the time anyway. The single deterrent from the rational or logical decision, is a deep rooted, and far more driven emotional reason. This is a subject I have raised once in the past as well because for AI to be truly relevant in marketing or communication, or even in the role that virtual personal assistants play, it has to build in an emotional argument too.

Easier said than done because that is just not how technology is ever meant to function — if it did, it would compromise some of the promise of injecting tech. Emotion is only one of the challenges for AI. In the 13th edition of the BW Businessworld Marketing Whitebook, AI is under the scanner too. The Marketing Whitebook 2017-18 has busted some of the marketing myths in context to AI to reiterate that AI can help marketers, but only if they can truly understand what it brings to the table.