Artificial General Intelligence: A Marketing Game Changer

Neil Henry / Content Marketing, Marketing, Tech Leave a Comment

In my last article – three emerging tech megatrends and how they will shape our approach to marketing forever – I talked about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and, specifically, Gartner’s concept of AI Everywhere.

Today, I’m going to expand on that and take a more in-depth look at how a particular field of AI – Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – has the potential to be a marketing game changer in the future.

AI vs. AGI

First and foremost, what are the differences between AI and AGI?

Forget all the sci-fi movies you’ve seen where robots become self-aware and take over the world. The reality right now is that even though AI and robots are more advanced than they’ve ever been, they are still merely tools, unaware of their own existence and only able to perform the specific tasks for which they were programmed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, AI today is nothing short of remarkable. It has beaten some of the world’s greatest chess champions and even destroyed human opponents at Jeopardy!

AI that is focused on solving particular problems or performing specific tasks is what is known as “narrow AI” or “weak AI” – kind of ironic terms when you consider the immense power of AI today.

And that’s where AGI comes in.

AGI is considered the holy grail of AI, even though there isn’t a single, agreed-upon definition for it yet.

In a nutshell, AGI is much more like the stuff you see in sci-fi movies. Robots and machines that can successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can; even experience a type of consciousness.

This kind of “strong AI” or “full AI,” as it is known, has the potential to change the dynamic between man and machine.

The AI Market and the Quest for AGI

According to a November 2016 report by Allied Market Research, the global Artificial Intelligence market will be worth over $19 billion by 2022. From 2016 to 2022, the market will grow at a phenomenal CAGR of 45.4%.

Such predictions are hardly surprising when you look at the companies that are currently investing in AI.

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and IBM, to name but a few, are all pursuing aggressive AI strategies – undoubtedly because they all know how immense the reward will be for the one that introduces AGI into the mainstream.

And it will be then, once the power of AGI can be harnessed and utilized by every day businesses, that its true potential for marketing purposes will be realized.

However, we’re not there yet, even in labs. In fact, realistically, we shouldn’t expect to see AGI solutions emerge – that significantly enhance marketing purposes – within the next 10 years.

That’s why, on Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2017, AGI currently finds itself at the beginning of the innovation trigger phase.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the lines between what constitutes AGI and what doesn’t are very blurred, with several different “tests” out there designed to determine when AGI has been achieved:

  • The Turing Test – Proposed by Alan Turing in 1950, the Turing Test says we will know when AGI has been achieved when a computer can convince a person through conversation that it is also human.
  • The Coffee Test – Apple co-founder, Steve Wosniak, is often credited with the so-called Coffee Test for determining AGI. Basically, if a robot could enter a strange house and make a decent cup of coffee, that’s AGI.
  • The Employment Test – Finally, Nils Nilson, a leading figure in the field of AI, said that true AGI would have been achieved if a robot could perform economically important jobs, such as a receptionist, computer programmer, or library assistant.

AGI in Marketing

So, with AGI finally achieved, how can we as marketers use it?

While we still don’t know exactly how AGI will be used in marketing circles in the future, we can make some educated predictions based on how we think AGI will evolve.

AGI for Making Even More Sense of Big Data

AI technologies are already being used to parse data and uncover amazing insights for businesses. But what about when we can take that a step further?

Right now, algorithms and machine learning technologies can be used to identify crucial trends in data. However, with AGI, those trends can also have some critical context placed around them.

That’s because AGI, with its ability to think and act like a human, can come up with a number of related areas to investigate.

For example, let’s say the price of a particular commodity suddenly increases or drops. AGI may look to question why this particular trend has occurred and check the latest news headlines for answers. A temporary incident resulting in the change might require no further action, but something bigger, like political instability, could trigger the AGI to advise us to rethink our marketing strategy.

AGI for Customer Service

While customers may or may not take to AGI robots in face-to-face customer service roles, what about their potential for online interactions?

The intelligent chatbots of today are great for basic customer interactions, but they are still unable to handle conversations that are a little more off the wall. That’s because they have only been programmed to deal with a set amount of questions/scenarios. As a result, many people think they are impersonal.

Unfortunately, that’s no good when someone is contacting your company looking for some extra leeway or consideration because they have experienced a real-life event that has caused them to contact you.

For example, a lender might employ AI to approve/reject individuals based on their credit history and circumstances. But how about when an individual has extenuating circumstances that can only be understood by another person (or perhaps AGI).

The positive experience afforded by such technology is invaluable to companies from a PR perspective and will further strengthen the relationships businesses have with their customers and prospects.

AGI for SEO

Google (and the other big search engines) use algorithms to govern how they index and display website links in their search results. Frequently, the search engines tweak those algorithms to reflect the latest changes to their indexing policies.

As digital marketing specialists, we stay ahead of the curve on these algorithm changes and adapt our online initiatives accordingly.

With AGI, all that could potentially be automated. From recognizing that a search engine has made an algorithm update, to highlighting it to you and suggesting all the areas of your online presence that need attention – maybe even going as far as to make the changes for you (submitting all of its own change management paperwork beforehand, of course).

Such a level of automation would not only enable your business to keep up with every SEO update as it happens, but also implement changes to your web assets in lightning fast time.

Obviously, with SEO playing such an important role for modern businesses, such a high-level of automation would need to be overseen and verified by a professional. Nevertheless, a lot of the processes and procedures involved could be streamlined.

AGI for Content Production

In my last blog post, I outlined how Gartner believes that by 2018, 20% of all business content will be authored by machines. Right now, we’ve got AI technologies writing sports recaps and financial reports, but we could see that extend to many types of content – including even thought-provoking opinion pieces – in the future.

They are the types of content that can really get people hooked because they offer a deeper layer of personality and insight. Taking audience engagement not necessarily to a whole new level, but to a level that had only ever been achieved with fantastic human writers.

While I would never wish AGI to replace journalists and writers, it would be a real coup for businesses that perhaps cannot afford to take advantage of, or employ, a professional writer.

Moreover, the AGI content creation technology would not only write the piece, but be able to construct intelligent and meaningful replies to any comments it received. For sure it could even go so far as to point those commenting in the direction of other (similar) pieces it has written, boosting brand awareness and audience engagement in the process.

AGI for Remaining Relevant

Unless you are one of the biggest tech companies in the world, you’re not going to develop your own AGI technologies in-house. However, in my opinion, companies that ignore AGI as it continues to emerge, do so at their own peril.

That’s because it is going to be absolutely enormous. I can’t even begin to touch on all the possibilities and opportunities it will lead to, but believe me, there is going to be an incredible uptake, obviously not just for marketers.

If you want to remain at the forefront of your industry, you are going to need to leverage the mainstream AGI applications (usages, not software) that materialize. Your competitors almost certainly will, and while keeping up with the Joneses isn’t always a good practice to follow, it is in the case of AGI.

The companies that investigate and adopt AGI technologies for marketing purposes in the early stages will lay a solid foundation for the future, when this tech will be absolutely everywhere. The ones that don’t will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage and playing catch-up further down the line.