Take a look at this graph and think about it for a moment. This is a search trends report on ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘machine learning.’ Since 2012, our searches for these terms has almost grown 3-fold and is increasing even faster.

When asked about artificial intelligence, you will likely react in one of two ways. Many of us are intrigued and excited about the future of AI and how it will shape the world. For others, they are fearful. The industries they work in a falling apart at the hands of faster and smarter machines. Many of us still think of it as some weird future tech from the movies. We think it isn’t plausible, or just more wishful thinking by the tech nerds of the world. To be fair, we kind of have a right to think this way. We’ve heard this story numerous times in the past few decades. Weren’t we supposed to be in a metropolis of flying cars by 2020? Or have personal maids that walk around the house feeding our kids and doing our chores? I still remember reading a magazine in 5th grade stating that hydrogen fuel cells were going to be in every car on the road by the time I turned 16. Obviously, that’s not the case. So what about artificial intelligence? Is it the future? Well, it might be too late because it’s actually already happening. It’s happening faster than we are reacting and we need to be ready for it.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Phew. Good Thing I’m In A Creative Industry. I Don’t Have To Worry About AI Taking My Job.”

Yeah… that’s not how that works.

AI is already stretching far beyond the manual labor industries. In fact, that’s not even what AI is designed to do. That’s what robots do. Robots complete tasks and replace human labor. AI reacts dynamically and replaces human thinking. Robots replace the labor needed to manufacture cars. AI replaces the need for drivers.

Let’s look at a few examples that have happened in the very recent past:

Last year, Fox approached IBM about the new Sci-Fi horror ‘Morgan.’ The computer analyzed hundreds of hours of video footage, learned what it looks like to cry, what it sounds like to scream, and how to build an intense story and wrote a trailer for the film.

In May of 2017, Google’s Alpha Go beat the world leader in the ancient Chinese board game of Go. This happened almost 10 years earlier than predicted.

Later, in June of 2017 (and this one is my favorite), two Facebook AI’s designed to negotiate prices actually decided that English was a poor communication tool and developed their own, non-human human language, allowing them to communicate with each other much faster.

There are programs that can research and write reports for your Google Analytics. No need to dig through and analyze the data. It just tells you, in plain English, what is happening and what you can do to make positive changes.

There are even small apps that, in many ways, are already replacing the primary function of agencies for smaller businesses. For example, the Shopify app, Kit, goes through your store, finds a great audience for you, organizes targeting parameters, writes copy, designs the ads, and places them on social media platforms for you. All you have to do is approve a recommended budget.

34 AI startups were acquired by tech giants in Q1 of 2017. Think about that for a moment. That’s insane! If you are still doubting this revolution in technology, I don’t what else I can tell you.

AI Still Has A Major Hurdle: Humans Are Really Good At Being Creative.

The entire function of artificial intelligence is for computers to go beyond algorithmic thinking. Rather than humans telling computers what to do, artificial intelligence thinks independently and teaches itself how to learn. It breaks the mold of what it was originally programmed to do and becomes faster, more efficient, and solves more complex problems as it learns. For now, those functions are pretty boxed in. To some extent, we still tell supercomputers what we want to solve and they give us solutions. That process has stayed pretty linear. AI identifies, takes action, and reports. It doesn’t quite “think creatively” or develop original thought.

This is where humans still have the advantage. Creative thinking is something that we are incredibly talented at. Computers will be extremely good at finding the right placements, audiences, efficiencies, but people are entrepreneurs, visionaries, and risk takers. We create solutions to problems we don’t even know exist yet. We try new things for the sake of learning and reward. We break norms, think outside the box, and create art and culture. People are incredibly capable and will continue to be. For now, AI is going to expand the realm of possibility by speeding up and optimizing the processes that could take humans much more time. While AI is busy finding these answers, we can spend time being creative, finding new ways to interact with others, creating emotional connections, and trying something different. In reality, this is a large part of what we already do, and things will stay that way for a while.

Agencies That Want To Survive Need To Adapt.

It’s no mystery that AI is changing so much of what we know. There are jobs that will go away, new ones that will get created. But if we want to continue to be successful, the best things we can do right now is be open to change and seek out ways in which we can embrace technology to further our business. We’ve seen how technology has put entire industries out of business. The survivors are the brands that look ahead and find opportunities to change. Technology and change shouldn’t be scary. It should encourage and remind us that we can always do things better. Over the next few months, we are hopefully beginning to implement AI solutions to help us be a faster and more useful partner to our clients. We hope to be able to offer some of these solutions as they grow and become more powerful.

The Future Is Changing And It Will Be Hard To Adapt, But We Will Get There.

It’s a really strange time to be alive. There are so many uncertainties. We don’t really know if this whole ‘AI Revolution’ will shape the world how we are currently predicting. A lot is going to change. Some people are saying that AI is to the 21st century what electricity was to the 19th. It could be huge. Our jobs will change, our governments will change, our economic principles will change, and the way we live our lives will change. The growing pains will be great, but it’s another step towards progress. After all, our knowledge is always so limited. The computers we hold in our pockets today are more than 1 million times as powerful as the supercomputers that launched the early Apollo missions. We don’t know what we don’t know.