Futurist shares the dehumanising yet promising realities of AI

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


Let me set out some of my overall AI observations, particularly from Gerd Leonhard, a German futurist who has been both a keynote speaker at a previous INMA World Congress and a special guest on my UK radio show (The UK Brand Show). 

Gerd addressed the recent Indian media festival in Delhi where he talked AI. AI can and will certainly be transformational, he said, but how it shapes all our futures will be largely determined by what we (as a human race) want from it. He paints picture of heaven or hell.

AI heaven is where it provides efficiency and productivity gains by offloading “commodity work”/shifting routine work to machines and accelerating human knowledge via research and discovery. 

Gerd Leonhard, a German futurist, speaker, and author, says humans will control where AI goes.
Gerd Leonhard, a German futurist, speaker, and author, says humans will control where AI goes.

And you can immediately see lots of benefits in advertising for getting rid of commodity and routine work here, be it helping write better pitches, automating sales lead outreach, scheduling of meetings, offering chatbot services for advertisers, tailoring product ads, et al. 

However, Gerd describes AI hell where it brings us much unpredictable bias and error (can it be trusted?), alternative realities based on illusions and simulations, and even dehumanising us all as a race. 

Dehumanising? Gerd says he wants his computer to do a competent job of what he tells it to do ... not to have its own sense of what is right or wrong and determining outcomes for us. That could be disastrous in some areas.

He used a chilling example of asking the Indian audience what AI would say if we asked it, “How can we solve the problem of climate change?” Its answer, he says, would be, “Kill all humans,” as “algorithms know the logic of everything but have the feeling of nothing.”

So, maybe there is a cautious approach we need to take when bringing AI into advertising, too? 

“Technology has no ethics,” Gerd said. “Embrace it but don’t become it. Don’t be a commodity. Commodity jobs will be robotised if not already, but robots don’t have feelings, emotions, intuition, etc., that humans have. The person with AI will win in the future, but AI will not beat the person. We need the tools but we need to control them.

“The benefits of AI as far as I see it that it must benefit four Ps: people, planet, purpose, prosperity (economy). Take control of your future.”

Food for thought? I think so. 

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About Mark Challinor

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