Media Artificial Intelligence Driverless Cars

Winning the imitation game – how to survive the AI and robotic revolution and guarantee satisfaction


By Andrew Eborn | president

July 31, 2017 | 12 min read

As I predicted, the inevitable march of AI and robotic technology is changing the way we live and work replacing millions of jobs.

erica robot

It is both impressive and terrifying.

Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba, has predicted decades of "pain" due to new technologies.

So what are the facts, the threats and opportunities? And how can we stay relevant and survive…?

Gary Vaynerchuk, chief executive of VaynerMedia, says those working in potentially replaceable jobs should start learning a new trade for the digital world.

"Robots taking over jobs are an issue for people that do jobs that robots are going to take over… People have lost their jobs forever. Jobs are always lost."

The fact is that every job is potentially replaceable.

Vaynerchuk points out that truck drivers, for example, "know that in 20 years there's a very good chance the trucks are going to drive themselves… If they choose to put their heads in the sand and be an ostrich, they should face the same fate that everybody who's put their head in the sand has faced, which is losing."

The Stanford University economist, Tony Seba, in his report Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, predicted that within eight years there would be no more petrol or diesel cars, buses or trucks sold anywhere in the world.

He suggested that the entire market for land transport would switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the death of the petroleum industry. People will stop driving altogether and switch to self-drive electric vehicles – 10 times cheaper to run than fossil fuelled cars and an expected lifespan of 1 million miles. Ludicrous!

Used Bentley anyone? One careful owner …

Andrew Eborn

The adoption of electric vehicles and driverless cars took a leap forward this week with the announcement of plans to introduce a ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

Michael Gove, the environment secretary and Boris backstabber, has warned that Britain "can't carry on" with petrol and diesel cars because of the damage that they are doing to people's health and the planet. "There is no alternative to embracing new technology," he said.

Quite right too!

Technology is however already years ahead of government policy.

The full consequences should also be considered. This will not only have a dramatic impact on the oil industry but will also lead to an unprecedented strain on the National Grid. In its 2017 Future Energy Scenarios report, National Grid predicted that electric cars will make up 90% of vehicle sales in 2050 – meaning a much larger demand for energy. Electricity peak demand could be as high as 85GW in 2050, compared to around 60GW today.

Marcus Stewart, head of energy insights at National Grid, emphasised that: "This new era of network operation is exciting and manageable, but it’s important there is investment in smart technologies and electricity infrastructure, and a co-ordinated approach across the whole electricity system."

It is not just drivers and the oil industry that technology will truck off.

The global gorillas are investing heavily in artificial intelligence. Facebook has introduced its AI research initiative, FAIR, “committed to advancing the field of machine intelligence and .. creating new technologies to give people better ways to communicate. In short, to solve AI”.

Microsoft and Google have also announced their own.

Deloitte anticipates that by 2020, 95 of the world’s 100 largest enterprise software companies by revenues will have integrated cognitive technologies into their products.

Several startups are swimming in the AI space. Angel List mentions nearly 3,000 with an average valuation of US$5m. As a result International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that global spending on cognitive and AI solutions will grow from nearly $8 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020.

…and that time will fly by. It is incredible to think, for example, that as my mother celebrated her 40th birthday on 2 September 2 1969, Chemical Bank installed the first ATM in the US at its branch in Rockville Centre, New York, revolutionising banking.

When was the last time you went into a bank?

From turning data into text, helping in the war against poachers and creating 'Cognitive Highlights' of Wimbledon, AI is having a massive effect

Marketing automation tools using AI already empower today’s marketers to analyse customer behaviour, customise outreach and inform sales strategies. Advanced personalisation improves communication leading to interested and engaged customers.

Salesforce predicts that applying AI to customer relationship management (CRM) will produce $1.1tr in GDP from $726bn in increased revenue and $265bn in decreased expenses.

The forecast embodies an assumption that AI will lead to net-positive financial benefits, which will drive job growth. Tom Stoddard, Aviva’s chief financial officer, argues that the idea is not to replace people with robots, but to “remove the robot from the person”. The report acknowledges that “some roles may be eliminated” but suggests that “others will be created or enhanced, not unlike the change in jobs in IT departments during the advent of the cloud”. The suggestion that there will be a net increase in jobs of 800,000 may, however, be wishful thinking.

Keith Block, the vice chairman, president, and chief operating officer of Salesforce, has said: “AI is impacting all sectors of the economy and every business. For the CRM marketthe fastest-growing category in enterprise softwarethe impact of AI will be profound, ushering in new levels of productivity for employees and empowering companies to drive even better experiences for their customers.”

What is key is that AI systems will continue to learn and improve from their encounters with customers and tailor their responses accordingly. Customers will be unable to distinguish CRM responses from those sent by real people.

In addition, AI powered CRM systems will also constantly cleanse themselves of dirty data which can cripple a sales force.

"Dirty data is the silent killer of marketing campaigns," said Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing. "It makes you look bad, depresses the impact of great content and offers, and can put your brand, reputation and domain at risk (or worse). “

AI also leads to improved data capture and analysis.

McKinsey surveyed more than 500 executives across industries, and alarmingly 86% said that their data and analytics initiatives were only "somewhat effective" at meeting their objectives. Damnation by faint praise.

In addition, AI is dramatically improving customer service – the lifeblood of many businesses. Microsoft's 2016 State of Global Customer Service report says that 97% of global consumers take customer service into account when choosing a company. This is not surprising. What is surprising is the suggestion that 3% don't!

90 percent of those surveyed by Microsoft in Brazil, Germany Japan, the US and UK say they expect brands to offer an online self-service portal. AI self-service systems enable service costs to drop and customer satisfaction to skyrocket.

PwC estimates that 80% of customer requests could be resolved without human involvement.

In the next few years, bots will drive engagement and provide a helpful level of customer service.

What I have found advising diverse businesses over the years regarding their strategic development in changing markets is that most industries have the same issues just hidden behind industry specific jargon.

It is not enough to live in blissful ignorance. We must all understand and embrace the disruption.

The march of AI and robotic technology across all businesses is unstoppable.

The fact is that AI is rendering several jobs irrelevant. If you fail to plan you plan to fail.

We are in the midst of a seismic change.

If you want to stay relevant, make informed decisions, there is no choice.

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and Space X, says that humans need to merge with machines if we want to stay relevant. Time to reintroduce Google Glass (proving that all those Glassholes were wrong to dismiss it...)

If necessity is the mother of invention failure is the father of success which is why I founded the Octopus TV Failure Awards in association with The Museum of Failure where Google Glass is an exhibit .... watch this space.

Andrew Eborn and Dr Samuel West
museum of failure

I always used to believe that the lifeline was that ultimately customers preferred dealing with a real person rather than a machine.

The fact that with automated systems people can no longer tell if they are dealing with a real person is a game changer.

Now machines are increasingly becoming like the real thing only better!

And it is not just automated systems but robots themselves which look, sound, feel, taste and smell like the real thing… arousing all of the senses.

From the scarily realistic Erica, created by Hiroshi Ishiguro – the bad boy of Japanese robotics – to sex robots providing customer satisfaction in oh so many ways. Even the world’s first sex robot brothel in Barcelona is looking at making the business global.

It's interesting the number of calls I have had from celebrities wanting me to negotiate their image rights. Realistic robots may just be the perfect partners of the future.

If we dispense with the need for real people as partners, the advances in AI will lead to increased demand for AI (artificial insemination) to ensure the survival of a the human race.

In fact AI makes it possible to programme personification perfection and pander to our preferences from manipulating our marketing messages, guiding our purchasing decisions to satisfying our sexual persuasions.

In 1950, British mathematical magician Alan Turing – "whose differently wired brain" enabled him to crack the Enigma Code – proposed a test to determine whether machines could think by seeing if a machine’s response to a conversation carried out via computer could fool the human participant into believing they were communicating with a real person. "Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?"

The resounding answer is "YES".

Now machines are increasingly becoming like the real thing and winning the imitation game.

Ignore it at your peril….

If you want to stay relevant and preserve your own position – get in touch…


Game over!

If there are particular stories you feel should be subjected to a pressure test to find out whether they really stand up to serious scrutiny or you want help to avoid the predictable errors and omissions of others and/or to swell your pay package, get in touch...

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewEborn and @OctopusTV

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