Why humanity needs AI

By 2050, we will be nearing an 80% dependency rate. That means that two people are in working age to support every eight people outside of working age. The last time we reached that rate, we had two billion people on the planet. This time it will be close to ten billion people.

That’s two billion people serving eight billion.

We won’t have enough people to serve the population needs.

Not manually anyway.

Enter Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (as Matt sees it)

Artificial intelligence is quite loosely used and defined. It also changes as we understand what constitutes intelligence. To set a common point, we think: Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables technology to recognise, interpret and respond to things normally needing a human level of intelligence.

With AI, we have watches that track your heart rate, cameras that track your expressions, and microphones that not only put your speech into text but also recognise tone. It’s an exciting time for human understanding.

Conversely, for most people AI goes to a dark place. A place where enabling a machine to learn enables a machine to have knowledge. And knowledge is power.

Today, I’m digging into why AI is not only needed, but necessary for the survival of humanity… and why market research plays the role of the ethical sensei.

I remember when you’d get a knock on the door at dinner time and some poor, rain-soaked volunteer would ask your voting preference in the up-coming election. That knock became a telephone call. Now it’s an email and AI.

Don’t believe me?

Political polling is only one part of market research. However, as a practice it has real, life-changing impact. Hence why we need ethical guidelines that underpin how our AI works – and market research is best suited to define these. Giving a machine power is scary!

Know what else is scary? A population that can’t support itself.

By example, we were recently asked to input ideas to the UK Department of Work and Pensions. They were considering options for their technology stack that would help serve the ageing UK population. Their biggest issue is a workforce one. There may not be enough humans to answer phone calls and ensure pensioners see out their retirement days comfortably. They need virtual assistants: machines that recognise nuance like a human, convert speech to text like a human, and interpret tone like a human.

The same goes for doctors, psychologists, forensic scientists or pretty much any area of expertise. We need human-intelligent systems in place to disseminate knowledge, like a human.

We require machines that can recognise, interpret and respond to our feelings and emotional needs

Currently we solve the population problem through immigration and education. But the sheer speed of population growth is hard to counteract traditionally with people.

With AI, this is possible.

The role of market research in the world of AI

Market research professionals are really good at pattern-spotting, and interpreting nuanced, human information. They’re also good at applying human insight to further relationships between consumers, brands and products, and to decipher the customer experience. By using AI to recognise emotions, we learn to interpret how emotions relate to thought, attitude and behaviours. From this, we learn how to respond to emotions.

The world of market research sits at the forefront of understanding humans, and information always has to be captured following strict ethical guidelines (see ESOMAR Codes & Guidelines here). Insight professionals constantly need to protect the individual identity while extracting the insight from what we learn.

Starting in market research forces an ethical compliance.

This empowers an ethical, empathetic artificial intelligence.

For humanity to survive and serve our population needs, we require machines that can recognise, interpret and respond to our feelings and emotional needs. However, that intelligence can’t be built without ethical guidelines that focus on protecting the individual and the wider customer experience.

Humanity needs AI to survive, and those in charge of AI ethics should look to market research to provide the ethical safety net.

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