Al Beyond benefits our ethical responsibilities in its utilisation

By Melandra Smith, Senior Proofreader, APS Group

Everyone in business is talking about AI and nearly everyone has an opinion. Business owners want to bring it on board, realise its benefits, harness its power – and no organisation wants to get left behind where there are tangible, measurable improvements to be gained. Employees are divided in opinion, with some confident that AI will add value to their work streamline operations and eliminate repetitive processes, while others are literally afraid for their jobs.

Irrespective of the debate and discussion around its use, however, AI is here to stay; underpinning an explosion of new, powerful technologies with the potential to change the world. And with great power comes great responsibility – it is vital for organisations adopting AI to be alert to the possible negatives, scanning for biases and helping put legislative safeguarding into effect to protect consumers and users. Read more about integrating AI into the workplace here.

What is AI?

In order to better understand both the likely positives and negatives around adopting AI, we need to take a closer look at what it does. We all know that AI uses intelligent agents – systems that can reason, learn and act autonomously, much as we do ourselves. And like human beings, the more information these agents are fed around specific tasks, the better they become at carrying them out. Types of artificial intelligence include natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, robotics, machine learning and deep learning; in which artificial neural networks learn from data.

AI is automating many tasks once done by humans, improving efficiency and speed and even making better decisions than us. Businesses have seized on the opportunities it affords for streamlining operations and cutting costs. AI is a disruptor too, since its capabilities have the potential to displace many jobs, taking the place of human workers – but it creates other jobs and can assist humans by removing the need to carry out repetitive tasks, freeing up time for the more enjoyable, creative aspects of our roles. AI is naturally the subject of many current discussions and debates, and while there are still so many unknowns around it, there is an undercurrent of urgency around exploring and identifying its potential effects on humanity, both positive and negative. This inevitably leads to questions around where our own responsibilities lie regarding ensuring that we do not inadvertently allow the AI technology we are developingusing to discriminate against or harm others.

The dangers of AI

Much has been said about the potential dangers of AI, with some of those most involved with creating and developing the technology delivering stark warnings around its possible future uses, such as Geoffrey Hinton, ‘Godfather of AI’ and Elon Musk, who wrote an open letter declaring it ‘a profound risk to humanity’. When we consider that everything within the scope of human imagination could both be automated and made efficiently deadly by harnessing the power of AI, their concerns feel real and immediate.

AI could be used to the detriment of mankind just as easily as for our benefit, driving more powerful disinformation campaigns, deadlier biological weapons and horribly efficient planning for enacting stifling social controls. With careful adoption and by building regulation in as we roll AI efficiencies out rather than allowing it to play catch-up, however, businesses and individuals can anticipate and avoid the most likely negative outcomes. Three impacts of AI that spring to mind for regulatory attention are bias, misinformation and environmental costs.

Environmental impact

Digital technologies have long been hailed as saviours of the environment, but as their use goes mainstream, this is no longer strictly true. The burden on hardware and resources is increasing in line with the uptake of digital products and services. The energy needed to train and run AI models is staggering. Some large language models product emissions in line with the aviation industry. Data centres need hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a day for cooling (leading to initiatives to place them next to swimming poolswhere they can be used to keep the water warm – or, in Finland, to heat hundreds of homes). ICT industry emissions worldwide are expected to reach 14% of global emissions by 2040, with communications networks and data centres being the heaviest users. To counterbalance this, many more schemes like the ones above could be designed and implemented at the time of expanding IT infrastructure, to get the most out of the energy used to run it, and it would be nice to see incentives in place to reward organisations with the foresight to do this.

Misinformation

AI language models make disinformation campaigns much easier, reducing the cost and effort required to create and deliver content. AI also has a history of creating inaccurate content. About 9 months ago, StackOverflow, a website used by developers, issued a temporary ban on posting ChatGPT content to the site due to the inaccuracy of the coding answers the AI generator produced, as this kind of activity constituted a violation of their community standards.

Disinformation campaigns could also be used to attempt to influence the outcomes of democratic elections, for example, with the barriers to creating plausible content disappearing and the production of social media bots posing as real voters becoming ever easier to do and harder to detect. But the biggest and arguably the most immediate concern raised around the uptake of AI technologies by business and industry has been around bias.

Bias in AI

It is questionable whether such a thing as neutral data really exists. And AI-powered machines, which learn from the data their human creators feed them with, inevitably replicate and even emphasise any biases contained within that data. In some cases, AI even automates the very bias types it was created to avoid. An Amazon recruitment system, for example, was fed data on the most suitable candidates for a specific role. However, since most of the previous successful candidates had been men, while learning how to judge which people were suitable for that role going forward, the computer famously became biased in favour of male candidates!

Other notorious examples of AI bias include an American programme for profiling criminals that wrongly identified black men as at more risk of reoffending than their white counterparts, and Microsoft’s chatbot Tay, which only needed 24 hours to start sharing discriminatory tweets based on interactions with its more Machiavellian users. The biases exhibited in these examples and the negative outcomes that they could have on human lives and livelihoods are clear proof that there is still a lot of work to do before AI can be trusted to make suitably nuanced judgements about individuals.

How to avoid bias in AI

Avoiding bias in AI is both a critical and ethical challenge. Bias can be introduced into AI systems unintentionally by biased training data, biased algorithms or biased decision-making processes. To minimise bias in AI, organisations could consider strategies such as ensuring that training data is representative, reprocessing and cleaning data to identify and remove biases, and always being mindful of how data is collected in the first place. Regularly auditing and testing AI systems for bias is another way to avoid replicating it. There are tools and methods for identifying bias in AI models that you can use to assist with this, such as disparate impact analyses. Algorithmic fairness can also be implemented with the specific aim of reducing bias, and human review and oversight is always likely to play a vital part in any AI decision-making process.

How is AI regulated?

This brings us back to the subject of this article and an important element of a much wider debate around AI – what are our responsibilities as individuals and organisations enjoying the benefits provided by AI technologies, and how can we ensure that our employment of these technologies and the data they generate and use does not harm other individuals and organisations?

The regulation of AI is a complex and rapidly evolving landscape. It can vary significantly from one country to another and encompasses a wide range of aspects from data privacy and ethics to safety and liability. Many countries have data privacy and protection laws that apply to AI systems. For example, in the UK, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets strict requirements for the use and processing of personal data, including that used by AI systems. Compliance with these regulations is crucial when developing and deploying AI applications. AI systems are also subject to safety and security regulations in some industries, such as autonomous vehicles and healthcare, and AI systems used in HR are now regulated to prevent discrimination against protected groups.

Conclusion

While the outlook is positive, determining liability for AI-related incidents remains complex and more safeguards are needed to protect the public. Legislation is still in progress to clarify the liability of AI developers and users in the case of accidents or errors caused by AI systems. Human and consumer rights groups such as the UK’s Big Brother Watch are continually identifying ways in which AI and the data it captures negatively affects or discriminates against people, identifying areas for improvement and action and in many cases launching high-profile campaigns against companies, government departments and other entities to achieve procedural and legislative change to protect the public. We can’t be far away from seeing the establishment of government and industry bodies and standards to ensure the responsible development and use of AI technologies and setting much-needed requirements and best practices.

It is increasingly likely in the future that as a fundamental element of thoughtful branding and any forward-thinking CSR strategy, organisations and brands at the forefront of the AI expansion should lead the identification and mitigation of actual and possible harms caused by AI technologies as they become apparent, ensuring they both contribute to and stay safely within emergent regulatory frameworks.

Maintaining ethical AI practices requires a holistic approach that encompasses both technical and organisational aspects. It should be seen as an ongoing commitment and integral to your organisational culture and operations. By prioritising ethics in AI, businesses can build trust, foster innovation and make a positive contribution to society.

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The Emerging Marketing Procurement Trends Shaping the Future 

In a fast-paced business landscape, marketing procurement is a critical part of developing and aiding businesses to achieve marketing goals efficiently and cost-effectively. 

As technology advances and customer and consumer behaviours change, the marketing procurement process must develop continuously. This article highlights some of the key trends that are currently redesigning marketing procurement strategies for successful businesses. 

 

Data-driven decisions 

Data analysis has become the foundation of modern marketing procurement. Businesses are leveraging data analytics and market intelligence tools to make informed decisions about their marketing budgets and spending. If
we analyse customer insights, market trends and performance metrics, marketing procurement teams can identify areas for improvement, optimise their marketing campaign investments and increase return on investment. 

By leveraging data analytics and using this to make data-driven decisions, businesses marketing campaigns fit their target markets better and create more personalised campaigns. 

Building strategic supplier relationships 

Building strong, considered relationships with suppliers is paramount. Marketing procurement professionals are actively seeking suppliers who can bring innovation, agility and market expertise to the table. Developing long-term partnerships with suppliers encourages sharing supplier knowledge and capabilities to stay ahead of the competition, drive innovation and provide a more unique, personalised customer experience. 

 

“When you consider your suppliers, not just your vendors but your partners, it leads to developing a healthy relationship with them. You are helping each other benefit. It is impossible to overstate the importance of excellent relationships and open communication with your suppliers, and it is this communication that will provide a significant edge to ensure you achieve your goals. Suppliers often have their finger on the pulse for the latest technology advancements, process improvements, market innovations and sustainability technology. 

A good supplier also knows the importance of winning hearts and minds with your stakeholders and can be the link pin between you and your stakeholders to ensure a seamless programme of all parties working and achieving together. “
George Smart, MBA. Global Director of Customer Solutions & Strategic Growth 

 

Flexible marketing procurement 

While everything is moving rapidly businesses need to be adaptable and reactive. This coincides with flexible marketing procurement that allows businesses to quickly respond to market changes, consumer trends and emerging opportunities. Prioritise shorter procurement cycles, adaptable and flexible contracts, and cross-functional collaboration where possible in order to respond to the market. 

 

Sustainable, ethical sourcing 

Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of the products and services they use and demand that sustainable and ethical practices are required. Some practices are regulated and required by law, and some practices are simply needed to ensure success within the industry due to consumer awareness and demand. A recent report shows that ‘82% of shoppers want brands to embrace sustainable, people-first practices and Gen-Z is leading the charge.’ (Forbes, 2022) Consequently, businesses are embracing sustainable and ethical procurement practices within their marketing supply chains, meaning marketing procurement teams are requesting and searching for suppliers that align with their company and customer values, and which demonstrate responsible practices transparently. This includes sourcing eco-friendly materials, ethically produced products and suppliers that support equality, diversity and inclusion. Subsequently, by sourcing sustainable, ethical practices, businesses can enrich their brand reputation. 

 

Emerging technology 

Enhanced technology, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, automation and digital platforms are developing marketing procurement processes. AI software can analyse large datasets quickly, programme and implement routine assignments, improve forecasting, and instantaneously monitor performance. Digital platforms provide visibility into the procurement landscape, simplifying supplier management and contract negotiations. Using technology-driven processes, marketing procurement teams can efficiently lower costs, reduce timings and make more strategically supported decisions. 

 

Marketing procurement is evolving rapidly, driven by businesses incorporating these marketing procurement trends: data-driven decisions, developing premeditated supplier relationships, implementing flexible procedures, using sustainable and ethical practices and staying up to date with AI technology. Providing driven solutions, businesses can drive innovation and marketing success. 

 

At APS we work closely with our clients, building meaningful relationships, it is paramount our clients feel secure, and in safe hands as well as with a company who is continuously striving for growth. 

Our teams are always researching the business landscape, producing thought provoking articles, horizon scan documents and white papers as well as creating working group meet-ups and roundtables. We deliver insights, share up-to-date analytics, our achievements and aim to remain transparent throughout. Our Innovation team is continuously evolving and developing to ensure we’re aware of any new and emerging technologies or advancements that we can share with our clients to help us remain at the forefront of our field. 

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The Emerging Marketing Procurement Trends Shaping the Future

The benefits of integrating AI into the workplace

We have used artificial intelligence (AI) within APS for several years and incorporate technologies into our services for our clients such as, heat mapping, content automation and predicted visual benefits.  We have an Innovation Team who meet weekly to discuss emerging technologies to ensure we remain at the forefront within the industry.  

With the adoption of AI moving quicker than ever before, there is a mix of both positive and negative emotions as well as hesitation for employees. Introducing AI slowly into the workplace, ensuring individuals feel comfortable and skilled, we believe the best and most successful marketing campaigns will be those that bring together and embrace AI and their creative teams. 

Integrating AI into the workplace has an abundant of benefits for all industries and sectors, private and public. We’ve highlighted a few of the key advantages here:  

Improved workflow of teams and departments 
AI can investigate workflows and systems to suggest improvements based on historical data, helping businesses streamline processes and identify bottlenecks. This can benefit businesses by improved resource allocation, cost savings and faster project completion. A blend of AI and skilled teams will give the optimum workplace.

Automation and efficiency 
AI can automate repetitive and mundane tasks, freeing up employees’ time to focus on more complex and strategic activities. This increases efficiency, leads to higher productivity and improves operational effectiveness.

Improved customer service and experience 
AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can handle customer queries and provide personalised support 24/7. Natural language processing capabilities enable these AI systems to understand and respond to customer needs, improving the overall customer experience.

Personalisation experience 
AI algorithms can analyse customer data and preferences to deliver more personalised experiences. This level of customisation helps businesses deliver targeted marketing campaigns, product suggestions and content that aligns with individual customer interests.

Innovation and creativity 
AI can assist in research and development by analysing vast amounts of data, identifying patterns and generating new ideas. It can provide valuable insights to researchers, helping them make breakthroughs in various fields

Improved cybersecurity 
AI can strengthen cybersecurity measures by detecting configurations of suspicious behaviour and recognising possible breaches. 

Ensuring staff feel prepared and comfortable with new technologies will give the best result when integrating new AI into the workplace. Provide detailed workshops and learning sessions and look to create innovation teams who actively discuss and search for new products to encourage excitement and positivity towards the subject. While AI creates many benefits, ethical considerations, data privacy and transparency must be considered throughout to ensure responsible use of technologies.

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The benefits of predicative visual intelligence  

What is predictive visual intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used to help brands market effectively within the competitive advertising industry for several years. The average person is exposed to as many as 10,000 ads daily, where it takes as little as 0.4 seconds for the human brain to register an ad and generate a reaction. 

Predictive visual analytics is an AI tool which helps brands, creatives and marketing teams optimise the effectiveness of their visual content across multi-channel marketing, with AI-powered actionable insight. Predictive visual intelligence creates heat maps onto content, ensuring the key message is at the forefront of any campaign. Data for analysis and action includes eye-mapping gazes and customer thought journeys. 

Predictive data modelling relies on years of previous established results to predict new patterns or behaviours when trialling new content. It effectively reproduces what it already knows from current and previous data, aligns this knowledge with the new content, and is then able to forecast predictive behaviours. 

Together, these bring us predictive visual intelligence, creating exclusive insights into the first few seconds of a human visual attention span, just before individual preferences takeover. It can be used across a multichannel of marketing, including video, website, email and static posts, as well as within shopper retail. The software has gained significant importance within the marketing industry, ensuring that key messages are optimised and personal bias to specific creative output is removed. 

What can it do? 

Predictive visual intelligence enables highly personalised, targeted multi-channel marketing campaigns that can be scientifically proven to resonate with the audience. Its ability to analyse and evaluate patterns and trends in visual data makes it easy for brands to gain deeper insights into customer preferences, behaviours and sentiments, providing a comprehensive understanding of their target audiences. A personalised approach enhances customer engagement with brands and increases the effectiveness of marketing efforts. 

In retail environments, predictive visual intelligence helps optimise customers’ in-store experiences, giving brands competitor insights on how their products perform visually and supplying a deeper understanding of product placement within a retail store design. 

The main benefit that predictive visual intelligence gives the marketing industry is its ability to support the research and planning stages and subsequent creative ideation development. The tool helps us reduce the time spent recreating designs, making the process more cost effective. It also delivers confidence to marketing decision-makers because its findings are reliably supported with a science-based approach to statistics. AI validates design variations with statistics allowing brands to opt for designs with higher projected engagement. This enables brands to optimise their marketing assets, ensuring that key marketing messages are always being delivered. 

How do we use it to support our clients at APS? 

Let’s imagine for a moment that we have created three variations of a poster, and we want to know which one is most effective at catching the eye of the casual passer-by. The technology is able to confirm that the key message is being delivered effectively by producing heat maps and tracking gazes and then providing us with statistics comparing the effectiveness of each of our three options. We can then use this data to support marketing decisions for our clients. 

The image shows a heat map being used within retail, to confirm that the new KitchenAid Stand Mixer in the colour of year, Hibiscus, is positioned in the best location to draw customers in within the shop fit out. 

“The use of AI based technology at the forefront of our creative offering ensures our customers receive data-driven insights and achieve the best possible ROI on campaigns and projects.”
Pete Gentle Creative Solutions Director The APS Group 

 

In conclusion… 

Predictive visual intelligence offers numerous benefits to marketing strategies, enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions easily to optimise their marketing efforts. It allows brands to gain deeper customer insights, create personalised marketing campaigns, improve customer experiences, optimise content creation and advertising, gain a competitive advantage and increase ROI and conversion rates. Using this technology, brands can confidently and effortlessly make data-driven decisions and achieve more impactful marketing outcomes. 

 

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The benefits of predicative visual intelligence