The Robots Have Terrible Taste

39083675 - robot working on laptop (done in 3d)Last year, McCann Japan built an artificial intelligence creative director (AI-CD).  The machine uses troves of past advertisements to draw upon to create a new ad.  The client, Clorets, got to pit man and machine. Two ads were created, you can check them out here and here and see if you can tell which one was created by a human.

Spoiler: the surreal concept is from the robot.   Hard to wonder if the AI-CD wasn’t forced to watch Mountain Dew’s Puppymonkeybaby spot on repeat for a month.

The ads were voted on by the public, with the human concept narrowly beating (54%-46%) the robot.  Now, I’m not remotely in the target audience, but this trial does show that, given the body of work the robot used to determine the creative narrative and structure, either a) we humans are dangerously creating fodder and algorithms that could set in motion some terrible content or b) the audience no longer wants the “boring” work of humans.  So it is either let the robot do your job or have a merry psychedelic trip before your next creative meeting.

It is worth noting that the creative production of the ad is still done by humans, but even that territory is coming under fire. With tools like MarkMaker and Logojoy, creative design is being handled by artificial intelligence.

All this begs the question of taste.  When Costco changes toothpaste, I get frustrated and yet buy an oversized package of a year’s worth of the decided upon flavor and just deal with it. I’m sure that decision was made by algorithm as well.  Data has long been the taste-maker, and it is getting more visceral in almost every way. Buckle up everyone. Netflix’s House of Cards was written with the help of data analytics—which is likely the reason successive seasons have been so unimportant.

The singularity is near, and the screen you are watching is probably already filled with artificially generated content.  It is all happening.  And faster than we expected. Luckily, we still have Pixar, and taking a look at their free online courses is something you should make a priority.

Would you use a robot to create your marketing? Join the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

—James Rice, Digital Experience