My Creative Director, the Robot

“Good morning, Dave.” Whenever anybody talks about artificial intelligence, the go-to villain is HAL, the vengeful computer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

by Mark Tungate , MAYDREAM

“Good morning, Dave.” Whenever anybody talks about artificial intelligence, the go-to villain is HAL, the vengeful computer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Film buffs will remind you that HAL doesn’t actually say his famous catch-phrase, although he does try to kill Dave by leaving him stranded outside their spaceship.

Creatives recently feared that artificial intelligence was about to leave them stranded outside the creative process. This happened when McCann Japan announced the appointment of “the first artificially intelligent creative director”.

The fact that the robot – named AI-CD β – was due to attend the agency’s welcoming ceremony on April 1 led many to assume that the news was an elaborate April Fool’s joke. But Campaign Live, for one, insisted it was no gag.

Apparently AI-CD β was created by a young team called the McCann Millenials Taskforce. The algorithm that drives the bot’s brain is based on an analysis of award-winning advertising. 

President & CEO of McCann Japan, Yasuyuki Katagi said: “Artificial intelligence is already being used to create a wide variety of entertainment, including music, movies, and TV drama, so we’re very enthusiastic about the potential of AI-CD ß for the future of ad creation.”

Needless to say, social media went crazy, with tweets along the lines of: “Let’s see it come and pick up an award at Cannes.”

Coincidentally, just a few days before, AKQA Shanghai executive creative director Eric Cruz had spoken at Adfest in Thailand about the rise of AI. He pointed out that the job of web designer had already become almost redundant because of services like Squarespace and Wix, which allow everyday users to build a perfect website using simple drag and drop tools.

All this news was counterbalanced by the unintentionally funny story of Microsoft’s AI “twitterbot”, Tay, which within 24 hours of its unveiling had begun spouting racist and abusive tweets. Microsoft pulled the plug, apologising for the “wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images”. Blog Microsoft

Talking of funny, those of a certain age might remember a TV show called Knight Rider, featuring David Hasselhoff and a talking, thinking car named KITT. Here’s what happens when KITT finds himself up against Samsung’s new Smart Home (via R/GA). 

Many people have experienced a limited version of AI by conversing with Apple’s personal assistant Siri, which does actually learn your preferences over time. But Siri’s “human-like” responses to questions like “What is the meaning of life?” are pre-programmed, and not a sign that the app is thinking.

Even vacuum cleaners are designed to learn these days, as these ads for Neato (from Doner LA) attest. 

Whether it’s in our phones, cars or domestic appliances, artificial intelligence is going to become ever more present. So what can you do if a robot shows up at the office to take your job? You could always snip the wires. But let’s see what happens when Dave tries to do that to HAL…