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Opinion and Insight
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Artificial Intelligence is Mastering Go, are Telecine and Editing Next?

AKQA, 6 months, 2 weeks ago

AKQA Shanghai’s Eric Cruz lays out his vision of the future at Adfest 2016

Artificial Intelligence is Mastering Go, are Telecine and Editing Next?

With Google’s AlphaGo defeating Lee Se-dol, the world’s second best (human) Go player, 4-1, the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence is dominating the conversation among the digerati. Great timing then for AKQA Shanghai ECD Eric Cruz, who was speaking at Adfest 2016 about AI, creativity and human adaptability.

His talk ‘Creativity in the Age of the Superhuman’ analysed where the species is on ‘the continuum of human development’, and discussed how the combination of big data and AI will likely have an impact on the industry we currently call advertising. Agencies like AKQA, he said, are moving from simply creating communication campaigns towards developing smart products and solutions and, thanks to new smart tools, individuals will be more empowered to develop ideas and projects for brands.

“Data and artificial intelligence were talked about in the past, but now it’s manifesting itself. It used to be a philosophy but now it’s real, and that’s why it’s such a hot topic,” he said.

Speaking after his talk, Eric shared a warning for the production industry. Such is the ever-accelerating development of AI that even seemingly irreplaceable skills like colour grading or editing could be under threat. Combining the knowledge of world-leading specialists with smart tech could result in intelligent and adaptable automation.

“If you look at Instagram and how it changed photography and colour. I’ve worked with Stefan Sonnenfeld at Company 3, who is an amazing Hollywood colourist, he’s the guy. I think what’s going to happen is that someone like him will partner with someone like Instagram,” he said, pointing out that cloud-based artificial intelligence combined with exceptional human intelligence and colour theory could theoretically create a constantly evolving tool.

Equally, editing is another area that Eric suspects could find itself absorbed by artificial intelligence technology in the future – particularly in China, where editors have less creative autonomy than other parts of the world.

Creative teams and agencies too will likely give way to individual creators. He proposes that hybrid creatives, or ‘omnicreatives’, as he calls them, could find themselves bouncing ideas off artificial intelligence which has analysed the work of past advertising greats.

It may seem outlandish, but Eric has followed the development of AI technology for over twenty years and has seen sophistication accelerate. In 1996 Eric worked on the IBM website supporting the famous matches between world chess champion Garry Kasparov and the supercomputer Deep Blue.

What’s more, Eric is pretty optimistic about the coming age of AI-driven automation. He believes that humans will be liberated and will be empowered to pursue creativity to achieve personal and business goals.

“I look at it in an optimistic way, I’m an optimist when it comes to technology, but there have been lots of negative portrayals of artificial intelligence in Hollywood,” he said. Provided that society, politics and the economy catch up with technology, the AI age could be a great leveller and liberator, he suggested, pointing to projects like Y Combinator’s basic income research and Finland’s recent experiment. The potential loss of jobs that will arise from AI-driven automation could be offset by different means of societal organisation.

What’s more, according to Eric, this new age will likely elevate the status of ‘the creative class’ in society.

As well as delivering his speech, Eric was also judging the Promo Lotus and Effective Lotus categories. This provided an interesting context for Eric’s presentation. “There’s been a big shift over the last three years. I judged film here three years ago and I would say that the entries have shifted to consist of 60 per cent tech-based ideas.”

However, despite all the talk of artificial intelligence and evolving technology, Eric reveals that this year’s (unanimously voted) Promo Lotus Grand Prix winner is ingeniously simple.