AI will make a number of media jobs redundant – but others will be created

An audience wearing 3D glasses at the London BFI IMAX cinema

New jobs could involve humans being an audience for media created by algorithms.
Photograph: David Levene

In the advertising industry we love drama, which is why Google’s (or Alphabet’s) “mobilegeddon” instilled terror throughout the industry with a 2015 algorithm change that affected organic search traffic far and wide, with some brands falling as much as 10%. If we weren’t already obsessed with how algorithms worked before then, we certainly were afterwards. In fact in my spare time I like to play a game called guess the algorithm. It involves trying to establish the data manipulation that’s going on behind the scenes of any websites, apps, or even content – working out what inputs are necessary to generate the consumer-facing outputs.

My favourites to guess are those websites that deal with thousands of products in fast-paced markets where “value” is relative – Music Magpie, Rent the Runway, even Amazon and Netflix (how did they know I love 1920s teen horror musicals?) By trying to understand the algorithms behind the business you can get closer to understanding how artificial intelligence (AI) will start to power entire digital experiences over time, as the capabilities of humans and technologies merge.

Recently, a robot was unveiled in Japan that is able to mimic actual human body language. Similarly, the excitement surrounding Jibo (your household robot) is slowly bringing the public round to the benefits of sharing personal data to make our lives easier. Jibo knows your face, your favourite pizza topping, your bank details, mother-in-law’s mobile number and the right time to use this data so that its owner no longer needs to worry about remembering all these boring details.

This is clear evidence that more and more we are starting to see the dance between human and machine intelligence – the most current example is our bond with mobile – it’s become personal, emotional and indispensable. The emotions we feel with our partners or friends – love, hate, trust, anxiety – are injected into machines and devices that we put in our pocket every day. These little helpers guide us home, connect us to the people we love, teach us new things and in fact are doing a better job in predicting our behaviour than humans can.

Because daft romanticism aside, the human brain is also a machine – a very complex one but a machine nonetheless. So it makes perfect sense that over the next ten years occupations that require physical and emotional consistency (alongside exceptionally long hours) are going to see an influx of machines that can perform tasks traditionally done by humans – caring, driving and Twitter community management for a travel brand for example.

In the communications industry, we seem to think that creativity can’t be faked by a machine. However, a lot of startups would disagree; Juke deck being one of those that creates personalised pieces of music. So do we really believe that, given enough past data and rules, a computer couldn’t create a Picasso-esque work of art? Or an advertising agency-esque print ad? Words and pictures can be generated easily enough and the very nature of AI means that excellence can be learned over time. So what’s left for humans to do?

Be the audience. It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds, and we’re really good at it. Society is becoming increasingly shared and we’re already beginning to provide for each other across numerous industries, Airbnb-style, understanding that a consumer is also a far better seller because they know what they want. The new wave of business creativity involves thinking, acting and testing as the audience – don’t create something you wouldn’t consume and don’t provide an experience you wouldn’t enjoy yourself. It’s this dual appreciation of provision and consumption that sets the men apart from the machines.

What machines can’t learn is what humans have dealt with for millennia – not words or sounds – but an understanding of the complexities of social dynamics: what makes a meme, why happy things make you cry and why a recommendation from a friend is more powerful than an ad. Let the algorithms worry about the tough stuff – the tried and tested, tiring and repetitive processes. It’s likely that over the next decade, in tandem with the rise of machines, we’ll see a new generation of job roles for humans, specifically in the media world, that are based on what our brain is best at – emotion, empathy, sarcasm (that tools find it incredibly difficult to understand), spontaneity and playfulness. Which is great because I’ll definitely be bored of the algorithm game by then.

Amy Kean is the head of futures at Havas Media

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Source: AI will make a number of media jobs redundant – but others will be created

Via: Google Alerts for AI