AI has made it’s way into our lives without us really noticing.
The ads that recommend products you might like? Machine learning.
Siri, Alexa? They use AI to develop ever better wake-word detection (the words that wake them up and start them listening) and speech recognition.
And of course the ever popular Quick, Draw!
But working out how AI might impact on our own work lives is of course way more interesting. For instance, what will AI do to the world of experiential design?
The demise of the middle classes is the very latest apocalpyse promised by technology. But the threat is real. AIs work faster and can be more accurate than us, picking up nuances that humans miss. Examples?
- We know that AI can plan moves to outwit a GO! master. So AI could plan the optimum path or paths through experiences. That would do away with the need for architectural design experts.
- AI can analyze big data and derive insights in such a way that there may be no perceived need for strategists, particularly if the strategists have focused their attention solely on data and measurement rather than emotional connection and behavioral economics
- AI can assess creative outputs and recommend universally appealing stories or interactions that deliver much of the work of human creatives, faster and more efficiently, and possibly even more effectively. IBM Watson was asked to make recommendations for a film trailer of the film Morgan. Check out the rather unsettling results.
But as with every threat the flip side is the opportunity.
From the research I am currently reading and the pilot projects we are working on at Imagination I can see some interesting opportunities for experiential design agencies that hinge on doing at a more intricate level what we should always be doing – making more effective, emotionally affective experiences for our audiences.
- AI can deliver a new way of measuring volume and behavior inside experiences that gives new levels of detail. Instead of self-reported research responses which are always biased we can map experiential user journeys more accurately. As one example, we can look at whether people really ended up where we wanted them because they were attracted there, or driven there.
- Facial mapping technology can help us determine high and low value experiences much faster than we have been able to do previously. This opens the possibility of more adaptive experiential spaces – screens that change content responsively, according to what most people in the space want, or to create shock and excitement with content that no one is expecting?
- Speech enabled environments that can deliver personally crafted stories from a huge data set, via your mobile, on the fly. Imagine that for museums.
- Identifying the places and moments inside an experience that require more human interaction.
Currently AI needs human input to be of value. Maybe it will reach a point where it doesn’t need human input.
But one interesting observation from game 4 of the 5 game match between AlphaGol and Lee Sedol.
The moment where the program made it’s fateful mistake in that match was the moment that Lee Sedol made an unexpected and unpredictable move. We love to believe that humans are rational, predictable and definable. But if behavioral economics has taught us anything it’s that we are more emotional or ‘irrational’ than we like to believe. That’s where AI has problems. But that’s where experiences truly bring value to the marketing mix.
We are, after all, animals that thrive off emotional connection, so much so that it actually creates health in us. So experiential designers should consider ways to work with AI as a way of generating more of that irrationality that seems to be a characteristic of humans to deliver emotions that drive brand energy.