Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 18, 2009 9:41 PM

The Marketing Singularity

This Blog post is going to get a little geeky, techie and weird... you have been warned.

On July 25th, 2009 The New York Times ran an article titled, Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man. It tells the story of leading computer scientists, artificial intelligence researchers and roboticists who met earlier in the year at a conference organized by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. The meeting was created to discuss and debate how much research and technology should be done if it leads to a moment in time where humans loose control over the computer-based systems that they created. We're not talking about the Matrix or 2001: A Space Odyssey here, but advancements are happening quicker than we all might realize.

"The idea of an 'intelligence explosion' in which smart machines would design even more intelligent machines was proposed by the mathematician I. J. Good in 1965. Later, in lectures and science fiction novels, the computer scientist Vernor Vinge popularized the notion of a moment when humans will create smarter-than-human machines, causing such rapid change that the 'human era will be ended.' He called this shift the Singularity."

Is it possible that we will see a Marketing Singularity?

Can computers get smarter than human beings when it comes to Marketing? Granted, the one area that may be difficult for a computer to master might be creativity and understanding the human condition, but what if they could tell us the likelihood of which ideas will spread (and which ones will die)? What if they could tell us before we delve into the creative aspects where we should be looking for optimal inspiration?

OK, this does sound a little too much like Science Fiction.

But, then again, so did Star Trek when it first came out, and suddenly we've got communicators (cell phones), stun guns and scanners. In fact, as advanced as Web Analytics is, it could well be the first nod towards how sophisticated and predictive Marketing tools can become. The question (and it's well-worth thinking about) is: could we develop such smart analytics platforms that they design even more intelligent machines that can understand what messages will work on human beings better than human beings can?

Last thought from the article that spawned all this wacky thought:

"While the computer scientists agreed that we are a long way from Hal, the computer that took over the spaceship in '2001: A Space Odyssey,' they said there was legitimate concern that technological progress would transform the work force by destroying a widening range of jobs, as well as force humans to learn to live with machines that increasingly copy human behaviors... The researchers... generally discounted the possibility of highly centralized superintelligences and the idea that intelligence might spring spontaneously from the Internet. But they agreed that robots that can kill autonomously are either already here or will be soon."

If they can kill, odds are they can market too.

By Mitch Joel