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Conceptually, ChatGPT(chat GPT) is an AI chatbot or artificial intelligence that can communicate through messages with humans naturally.

Transformation in Progress

The full impact of generative AI on advertising and brand communications is still too early to gauge, writes Khurram Mahmoob.
Published 24 Oct, 2023 04:44pm

Post pandemic and we are in a different world. Covid-19 not only increased the pace of digital transformation, it triggered an acceleration in the development of new tools, one of which was the release of OpenAI’s generative AI tool ChatGPT in November 2022.

ChatGPT’s long-form human-like responses based on text inputs ignited a FOMO wave that led to it attracting over one million users in a mere two months, rekindling all the hype around AI among investors, the public and the media. Since then, several other generative AI tools have surfaced, triggering ‘breakout’ Google searches for Alphabet’s Bard and Baidu’s Ernie, the moment their launch announcements were made. This in turn gave stimulus to select Mega-cap tech stocks, leading Nvidia, Alphabet, Meta, and Microsoft to outperform the S&P 500 Index. Nvidia, for example, with its lead in producing chips capable of performing complex AI tasks reached one trillion dollars’ market value this June.

AI, of course, is not a new concept and actually dates to the fifties, when Alan Turing conceived the possibility of machine intelligence and introduced ‘the Turing test’ to assess a machine’s ability to demonstrate intelligent behaviour. The sixties witnessed initial investments in the field, resulting in one of the world’s first AI chatbots, known as Eliza. The late nineties/early 2000s saw further AI innovation thanks to breakthroughs made in computational power and the rise of the tech sector and by 2010 AI went mainstream when big tech started integrating AI technologies in their products. It was during those years that people started to really see the magic of AI through machine learning (ML), so that the most iconic post-2000 brands – Google, Meta, Amazon, Uber, LinkedIn and TikTok – rely on algorithmic cues that leverage ML to accomplish a host of tasks.

Generative AI uses various techniques, including neural networks and deep learning algorithms to identify patterns and generate new outcomes, and differs from traditional AI in two main ways. Firstly, it is capable of generating new content in the form of text, image, video, audio and code, unlike traditional AI systems which train computers to make predictions about human behaviour, business outcomes and so on. Secondly, it allows humans to communicate with computers in their natural language; something never done before, as traditionally, computers were prompted using programming languages. The implications of generative AI on personal and professional productivity are tremendous for the simple reason that if computers can generate quality content, human beings will be able to spend more time on higher value-added activities. In this respect, generative AI is a jump-start opportunity for start-ups, and small and medium sized businesses which can now become faster and smarter in the way they work.

Generative AI is still in the early phases of its ability to disrupt the ABC (advertising, brand, communications) ecosystem. Presently, it can enhance creativity, personalisation, efficiency and data-driven decision-making, and personalised content creation, audience segmentation and targeting, real-time social media engagement, sentiment analysis and content optimisation are all high level achievable goals. However, what still has to be done is to unlock and integrate AI values into different processes and move it beyond ‘prompting’.

There can be arguing that businesses that know how to wield the power of generative AI will be the ones that will move ahead. However, the speed of change is also bringing with it both overwhelming choices and the constant challenges of ensuring the ethical use of AI, and in this respect, it would be prudent that adoption strategies begin small and then scale up. It would be true to say that right now the ABC ecosystem is still in the capabilities assessment phase in terms of data flows, the technology infrastructure and the quality of the human resources, and of the existing tools. It would also be true to say that most ABC companies are looking to AI for its productivity-enhancing capabilities, a state of affairs that is leading to fears that AI will become a threat to existing jobs – although this is not necessarily true, because if integrated correctly, AI will extend human creativity and intelligence – not replace it.

However, it is too early to accurately sketch the future of this technology, especially given the risks, considerations and concerns underlying it – and no, we cannot expect generative AI to predict this future.

In the long run, generative AI will bring important strategic values to the table in terms of creative processes, marketing efforts, and customer experiences. However, in order to do so, AI will require a reimagining of the corporate culture and the existing skill sets. This could well take the shape of a transformation in the dynamics of advertiser-agency engagement, the introduction of specialised roles, disruption in organisational design and changes in the remuneration model. This in turn will unlock complex ethical, privacy and compliance issues and specialised knowledge skills will be required to navigate the ethical use of AI, including concerns about data privacy, bias in algorithms and transparency in ad targeting. In fact, the more ubiquitous the technology becomes, the greater will be the need to remain vigilant about issues of user privacy and trust.

To conclude, there is no doubt that AI is a game-changing force for transformation and disruption, and rather than view it with suspicion, we should perceive AI as giving human imagination, creativity and intelligence a co-pilot that can lead us to endless possibilities. However, it is too early to accurately sketch the future of this technology, especially given the risks, considerations and concerns underlying it – and no, we cannot expect generative AI to predict this future. However, as the technology progresses (and at breakneck speed), we must be prepared for a fundamental shift in the way we accomplish many tasks, although I personally anticipate there will be more than a few years of transition. In a way it seems we are back in the nineties when the internet burst upon the scene, and although at the time there was a fair share of enthusiasts for what was then known as the information superhighway – it took more than a decade for the internet’s real potential and value to become both apparent and accessible.

Khurram Mahboob has been contributing to the GCC region’s tech, media and technology sector for the last 17 years. He is based in the UAE.