Artificial Intelligence as every major topic is surrounded by controversy, rumours, great expectations, hopes and fears. One of the most popular concerns is built around the narrative that technology will replace humans. We have been lead to believe that robots of any sort could pose a threat to our human existence. For us this is truly a wrong perspective.
As Artificial Intelligence researchers ourselves, we believe that technology and men should be seen as a team, as a powerful partnership, and not as rivals.
Does the name Edsac ring a bell? Edsac ,or Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator computer, was an early British computer built back in the 1940s. It ran for the first time in 1949 and its role, as his creator Professor Sir Maurice Wilkes puts it, was to “provide 'mechanical' aids that would assist mathematicians, scientists and engineers at the university (University of Cambridge) to perform complex and time-consuming calculations.”
What happened was that Wilkes got tired of seeing the research workers struggling to do laborious computations with the help of simple mechanical desk calculators and mathematical tables. He wanted to provide them with a solution that would simplify and empower their work. So he designed the Edsac computer who would substitute the old desk calculators and would help crunch numbers much faster than they could ever manage before. This revolutionized their work and actually helped two of the University of Cambridge scientists to win Nobel prizes.
Unfortunately, the idea behind Edsac was too advanced for its time and it couldn’t realize it’s full potential. Times are different now and recently BBC published the exciting news that a group of volunteers is working on bringing the Edsac computer back to life. You can learn more about their quest here.
So yes, times are different now. We not only talk about Artificial Intelligence and Big data but we have significantly stronger technical capability to put our ideas into practice. And we are more technically equipped to advance with each year passing by. Think about Wilkes and his computer, think about what he could’ve done if he had the abilities we have now. His computer represents the prime motive why we venture into innovation - because we want to be better at what we do, we need technology to help us take our journey to the next step. Such idea should serve as inspiration to us and not as concern.
Technological innovation is the natural outcome of our progress. Different time periods require different perspectives and approaches, and how these direct our journey to human progress. At the end of the 18th century it was the shift from manual labour work to mechanical one which gave the boom to the Industrial Revolution and the factory system. In the beginning of our 21st century it is the growth of the digital space that will drive our progress.
As we’ve continuously stated, from more devices to more data, our world is increasingly getting more digital and more used to being digital. We are now accustomed to the easiness of the Internet, to the usefulness of our smartphones, tablets, and so on. As a result each year there are more and more digital users, more online applications to help us with our daily routines, and more data streaming in the digital realm. And this expansion is moving with fast pace - latest research by the International Data Corporation states that the amount of data in the digital sphere is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 will grow to 44 zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes). Which is a fascinating growth in comparison to the 4.4. zettabytes in 2013.
This new environment requires new perspectives and new approaches. And the digital advertising industry is one of the places where this is most evident. In the coming years advertisers will have more and more users to try to engage with, more channels and more devices to take into account, and more data to crunch. This will require a lot of complex work that humans alone will not be able to manage. The natural course for us is to find new solutions that would make it possible.
Here comes the key point - only a human will know how to apply these solutions into the particular context he needs them for.
Even the most advanced technology, the most powerful new solution still requires human vision. When we talk about Machine Learning algorithms that power Campaign Optimization Engines used in Programmatic Media Buying, we always say that one of their strongest suit is that they continuously learn from data and that they can compute with speed and precision far outpacing the human abilities the best way to optimize an advertising campaign.
However this doesn’t mean that they replace the role of the media buyer. On the contrary - the point of such self-learning algorithms is that by learning how to perform better they will become more reliable partners in the advertiser’s decision-making process.
As an advertising technology company, we have always believed in the partnership between men and machines. This is why our technology is based on principle of “co-piloting”. We understand the challenges and constrains media buyers experience in their work every day and we created specific set of Artificial Intelligence products to become their smart reliable co-pilot and help them navigate their campaigns in the best direction. But in this relationship the media buyer has the ultimate control over the products. It is the human vision that drives work of the technology.