Q5: Keeping an eye on AI, with Jared Molko [interview]
by Carey Finn (@carey_finn) Digital marketer and former global Google guy turned local CEO, Jared Molko (@Jared_Molko) calls himself a tech humanist who’s on a mission to raise awareness of the challenges that come with artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. He took some time out of his dayjob, running entry-level recruitment aid Tellos, to talk about application and adaptation.
Q5: First, what are the practical, on-the-ground applications of AI right now?
Jared Molko: There are so many! A lot [is] happening in the medical sector, with AI technology helping [to] extend healthcare services and improving diagnosis. One simple but profound example: in Africa, which is the most-diverse, multilingual continent on earth, due to the language barriers, many people are incorrectly diagnosed. We now have artificially intelligent, real-time translation tools that mitigate this risk, which will save many lives. Then you’ve got drones helping farmers managing crop yields through image recognition and predictive algorithms. In the financial sector, you have AI programmes helping financial institutions understand credit and risk profiles of the unbanked. Thanks to this, so many more people will be able to participate in the economy, which is very exciting!
Q5: A lot of people are fearful that their jobs will be in jeopardy one day because of AI. Would you say that they are right to be concerned?
JM: There is cause for concern, but I think this topic is mostly misunderstood. We’re in a revolution, no doubt, but every revolution up to this point has ultimately led to greater wealth and job creation. The fact that we don’t know what jobs there will be in the future doesn’t mean there won’t be any. Sure, many aspects of work and entire professions will be automated away but, if you really drill deeper, a lot of time the jobs, or aspects of jobs, that will disappear no one will really miss. The concern I have is not if there will be enough jobs; it’s more how we handle the transition from an industrial society to a technological society, and make sure people have the requisite skills to be employable and create value in the future.
Q5: What does AI mean for the advertising and marketing industries?
JM: I think it will lead to the industry moving away from a mass-market, category and segmentation mindset to a more-personalised, individualist approach. [What] with everyone’s data footprints and the advances in artificially intelligent programs that utilise this data, marketers will be able to execute personalisation at scale, which is both exciting and scary.
Q5: Will AI filter down to all levels of society, or remain accessible only to the wealthy?
JM: Yes, it will filter to all levels of society. I see it playing out the same way other major developments on the internet played out, like building websites, ecommerce, etc. First, innovative technology is reserved for the elite who have the resources; then later, after enough usage and driving down of marginal costs, the open-source model kicks in, which promotes the idea of democratisation and access. This has proven to be a very economically beneficial business model, and something Google has championed. So, I imagine AI will follow the same trend.
Q5: On that note — how has your experience at Google fed into your current work?
JM: The biggest thing I would say is being able to think strategically, and use data to inform decision-making. People at Google are obsessed with data, and you have to be able to really back up any assumptions. So, I apply this same ethic to any problem I set out to solve.
- Find out more about Jared Molko and his work: jaredmolko.com.
Carey Finn (@carey_finn) is a writer and editor with a decade and a half of industry experience, having covered everything from ethical sushi in Japan to the technicalities of roofing, agriculture, medical stuff and more. She’s also taught English and journalism, and dabbled in various other communications ventures along the way, including risk reporting. As a contributing writer to MarkLives.com, her new regular column “Q5” aims to hone in on strategic insights, analysis and data through punchy interviews with experts in media, marketing and design.