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Planners 'should embrace AI'

News, 07 June 2016

LONDON: Far from taking their jobs, the rise of machine learning and associated tools and techniques should put agency-side strategists in a position to do their jobs more effectively.

Speaking at an event organised by the UK Account Planning Group (APG), Rushi Bhavsar, a WPP Fellow and Planner at Grey London, an advertising agency, argued that technology "has fundamentally augmented us".

The rise of tools that use AI "is helping us understand a world that's entirely too complex to be able to be dealt with otherwise," he said. (Warc subscribers can read a full account of the presentation in AI and creativity: Why planners should embrace machine learning).

"We are beginning to create tools that parse the immense amount of information available to us – quantifying the quantifiable," he added.

Data scientists and other practitioners are exploring the huge datasets made available to them by the digital revolution using neural networks that are able to "learn" and be "trained" in recognising and matching different styles.

One tool, developed by a PhD candidate at Stanford, can learn a piece of music, then play it back to listeners in styles ranging from Bossa Nova to the Beatles. Another, Deep Forger, a Twitter bot developed by Alex J Champandard, can recast photographs in the style of different artists from Hogarth to Picasso.

These tools can, Bhavsar suggested, be used by strategists to explore cultural artefacts – styles – and solve business problems. Machine learning, therefore, becomes a creative tool.

"Our ability to play with this makes me optimistic," Bhavsar said. "Being able to tangibly experiment with style makes it a lot easier to understand what style is in the first place.

"Let's stop thinking of ourselves as ad people in terms of what technology is incapable of doing, and look instead to what can happen if we work with it – together!"

Data sourced from Warc