South by Southwest: The inconvenient truth in AI

Ogilvy's Jason Davey reports in from this year's SXSW event on the changing dialogue around artificial intelligence


This time last year, I wrote that advancements in technology will impact society, not just marketing. This year, that seems to be a strong flavour of many of the topics being presented at SXSW.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being discussed in every track of SXSW, across filmmaking, interactive and music. But this year the tone is different. The penny has dropped that without careful consideration, and a diversity of input, AI could fast become the worst version of humanity itself - racist, bigoted, gender-biased and exclusive.

The driver for this is the unconscious bias that exists in the vast history of documents and data AI uses to learn from. Personalised search algorithms based on AI often filter out the diversity of human ideas. And unfortunately, humans have an evolutionary predisposition to bad news; it’s helped us survive for thousands of years.

This is now having a profound impact on global society, driven by fake news, hate speech, trolling and unfiltered direct messaging.

From the mayor of London to the Chief Scientist of Machine Learning at Google, many leading figures have challenged the major technology developers to take responsibility for their impact on culture. 

As purveyors of global communications platforms, major players such as Facebook and Google are now recognised as having a significant impact on humanity, and it’s not all good. Their AI algorithms are not yet designed to reflect the diversity and interests of a global society, and in fact curate an experience based on your ‘interests’, no matter how extreme they may be. This is creating a narrow-minded culture of convention through the lack of diversity received in your news 'feed’. It’s not a feed, it’s tunnel vision.

This is exactly the opposite to the original intent and promise of the Web; openness, equality, global connectedness.

Almost limitless access to information means the world is more transparent than ever before. So brands need to clearly define and execute a purpose that is socially and culturally responsible. And select AI tools that reflect this.

Without doing so, AI-assisted decision making will not be forward-thinking, inclusive and diverse (and therefore better) - it will be ruthlessly reflective of the bias of the past. Society will not move forward, but move back to a worse version of itself.

AI will have a profound impact on our ethics, culture, economic welfare and of course, brands. We must all take responsibility in holding AI developers accountable for their design, ensuring diversity and inclusion in our AI-driven future.

It starts by understanding that this technology is not divorced from humanity, it’s reflective of it. We must become better at identifying bias and removing it - from our workplaces, our politics and our advertising. 

 

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

Great read. I agree that it should be a perfect balance between interacting with your customers and knowing your brand. As a business, yo...

Caroline Scott

7 ways CMOs can improve their customer engagement game

Read more

Very true. Team development helps improve collaboration among the team members. I was able to improve my team's collaboration skills by t...

Quent Sinder

Why empowering others can help make you a great leader

Read more

CRM is a very good software that can help you succeed in your business. In my company, this system has allowed me to improve customer rel...

Anna Janicka

Sensis rebrands to Thryv and brings business software to Australian SMBs

Read more

AI Leasing Assistants have finally arrived for the multifamily industry. With so many to choose from it can be hard to figure out which i...

Alice Labs Pte. Ltd.

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 May 2021

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Blog Posts

Why if marketing is all you do, you’ll never be very good at it

OK, so you’re probably thinking: “Here comes another article to badger me about living in my bubble.” And also, “I bet this bubble-bashing piece will go on to explain how I can achieve better results through some heady dose of new life experiences, new routines and annoyingly different opinions on social media.”

Dane Smith and Toby Harrison

Ogilvy Australia

A leader’s role in rebuilding a culture of confidence

Every day, there are new predictions and studies on the future of work, the state of the economy and the unfolding global pandemic. All of which creates uncertainty and heightens the imperative of effective leadership.

Michelle Gibbings

Workplace expert, author

Confused About Your Customers?​

​I've worked in brand and marketing for more than 20 years. But there’s one area where I’ve found myself going around in circles and I must admit I'm becoming increasingly confused.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in