Disrupted Marketing – The Singularity of Experience

Recording and combining human experience with AI changes the economics of retail and marketing forever

I’ve talked about Artificial Intelligence and “singularity” before – it was a concept I picked up from Google’s Chief Futurist Ray Kurzweil – here’s a brief but useful background:

Fundamentally, singularity is when all of the worlds computers (including the awesomely powerful Quantum devices) start to behave and think as one single device. Artificial intelligence combining as one entity with one thought process and one voice. Then they become more intelligent than the human race. The general prediction is median value of 2040 according to a survey highlighted by Wikipedia  below:

“Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045[6] whereas Vinge predicts some time before 2030.[7] At the 2012 Singularity Summit, Stuart Armstrong did a study of artificial general intelligence (AGI) predictions by experts and found a wide range of predicted dates, with a median value of 2040. Discussing the level of uncertainty in AGI estimates, Armstrong said in 2012, “It’s not fully formalized, but my current 80% estimate is something like five to 100 years.”

My view is it will happen a lot earlier than that. Advances in Quantum computing will cause singularity to happen at an exponentially accelerating rate. Kurzweil is starting to talk about 2030. That’s just 15 years time.

But’s that’s intelligence. What about experience?

Human experience is as old as recorded memory and is the cornerstone of our political, our economic society and of commerce.

By way of an example. A common type of question that might be asked in a holiday retail store of a sales agent might be:

Find me a holiday for a family of 4 including two children less than 8 years old within 400 metres of a water park where the average temperature is not less than 24 degrees less than 4 hours flying time from Gatwick or Dublin for less than €400 per person

Feed that same question into Google and you (currently) get a zero answer.

Many human agents can, and do, answer that questions because they have years of experience asking similar questions and the human brains ability to do pattern recognition is very well known.

Imagine though, if there was a formalised way to make that experience visible to all by combining all human experience into one entity – the “singularity of experience”.

By way of an example of user experience. A UK holiday company, has over 600 retail branches with around 6 retail agents in each branch. That’s over 3,600 sales agents probably with an average of 10 years experience each – that’s 360,000 years of travel experience. When those agents leave or retire that experience walks out of the door. BUT if you were to be able to gradually record that experience into an AI/deep learning system – it would give all of that disparate and deep travel experience to every customers – whether in the Dundee branch or on the web. That’s enormous.

It’s the totally disruptive way of augmenting many office workers, retail workers, health professionals etc. In fact we nearly all become redundant.

John Straw will be presenting this concept at #eTailEurope on the 22nd June 2015.