Advertisers Need to Focus on People and Drop the Excessive Use of Algorithms

Otherwise we risk losing sight of ourselves

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My head is cluttered with hordes of information. Big Data is in full effect. Every time I attend a meeting, conference or business briefing, everyone seems so hellbent on spewing forth all the data they have ever learned in their entire lives relative to the topic at hand.

Each perspective, backed by reams of decks, chockfull of statistics and consumer potential and projected movements are all based on the latest and coolest algorithms. When or where will people eat tacos and drink Tequila laced with chili peppers? How long might they sleep on the left side of the bed using three-ply goose down pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets? When will they call their therapist next? All of it’s projected and based on an algorithm.

AI, while I agree is important, is becoming way too critical in our interpretation of data and our development of strategic recommendations and consumer insights. Particularly, when most are written by people who have no real-life experience relative to the topic the algorithm was developed to project, like cultural awareness and nuances.

AI, while I agree is important, is becoming way too critical in our interpretation of data and our development of strategic recommendations and consumer insights.

I recently met with Kandrea Wade, an expert in this area, to help me navigate the landscape and make sure I was not overreacting. I also attended the Entrepreneur Society AI Conference to provide additional light on my knowledge journey. It seems that virtually all the AI scientists agree that the human touch and perspective is still very much of central import to making real and accurate decisions. We should not place an index of control over our decisions to algorithms.

Assigning too many tasks solely to machines causes us not to use our natural mental machines and our muscle of strength (aka our brains). How many people can’t tell where they are or where they are going without GPS? They’ve completely forgotten their ability to read a map.

We are seeing a generation that is trading off its natural capabilities to problem solve without truly realizing it. Are we mortgaging off good old gut instinct? It seems that the balance between art and science is off kilter. Millennials are the first generation that will use instincts based on technology. They are also losing their natural ability to catalog their experiences, the ones that they are supposed to learn from by example.

Additionally, we have the real issue of digital privacy. The security of our data is an open book right now. It will need and require boatloads of regulation, which has yet to be written or passed. There are ethical and moral issues at risk here, with companies being way smarter than consumers and using their personal information to further increase the gap. We often forget that data can be misinterpreted, manipulated and misused.

AI does not have the capacity to decipher cultural nuances and emotional dynamics or human elements that heretofore played roles in decision-making. It is why the old-school account person is slowly fading out of style and strategists rule the day as the new account leads. But the silver lining is that the old-school generation is being forced to get their act together and catch up with the use of technology if just to stay relevant and in the game. I know I am.

So, let’s consider an alternative or a potential solution that might help us create a new narrative, one that to blends advanced technology while being socially and culturally astute and human. Let’s create enhanced training guidelines for developing our talent. Guidelines that teach them how to blend the benefits of technology and ever-changing computer dynamics with the reality of human instinct, legal and ethical guidelines. Yes, advertising people, it’s time to invest in people again.