IN a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, as imagined by writer-director James Cameron back in 1984, humans need to protect themselves from being killed by their own creation – a cyborg assassin called The Terminator.
While the science fiction movie was fun to watch (it amassed some US$3 billion revenue up to February 2010 and catapulted Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger to a level of fame until he eventually became the 38th Governor of California), it also left that pertinent question at the back of every fan's mind – will we ever be controlled, or worse, treated as slaves by Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
"In the future, the role of humans will evolve, but (there is) no such thing as The Terminator because the driver of the technology will always be us. We are the ones who will decide how we want technology to behave, good or bad," said PHD Malaysia managing director, Eileen Ooi.
She said, the reality that these Terminator-like Hollywood movies present where technology would evolve so rapidly till it no longer needed humans as operators, are myths that some argue can be debunked.
"This (myths) has made many people very scared, very sceptical. True, some jobs will diminish or are being replaced. Some operational jobs will be automated, but humans evolve all the time.
"It's like how we (humans) started out as hunters before we produced things, then we made machines to make things, and now we've created better machines where it can think by itself," said Eileen, whose company specialises in creative and innovative media buying, among others.
From a marketing perspective, she said AIs could help predict consumer behaviour more accurately, and the data gathered could lead to both consumer and producer making better decisions.
Citing a collaboration with a hygiene product manufacturer client as a case study, Eileen said whenever there's an outbreak of communicable disease in certain countries, PHD Malaysia would gather crucial data in specific areas, including Google search keywords and the amount of time people spent on certain websites researching the disease. The data would then be deciphered and used to manipulate the campaign that drives more organic traffic to the company.
"Normally, before a disease becomes an outbreak, there would be news reports and people would look it up.
"Based on this user behaviour, we try to manipulate our search campaign. We identify the peak hours for these user searches and then invest money to ensure that you drive the education and increase the awareness at the optimum period," she said.
Eileen, who has been in the industry for over 13 years, said marketers should learn how to better gather and understand data on predicting consumer behaviour, to maximise the full potential of their businesses.
She said all these knowledge and more will be made available at MERGE, a platform that will give a glimpse of what the future will look like and what we need to do to make us more prepared.
Business players, academicians, key personnel in both government and private sectors are all urged to attend.
Among the highlights will be an in-depth discussion on how to bridge the gap between technology and reality, and what the AIs mean to humans.
"Technology already feels like it has a mind of its own. Over the next two decades, this will become even more pronounced.
"Machines will eventually become as intelligent as us, and while today they may just live in our pockets, tomorrow they could be in our pulse (though nanobots) and our minds, linking us to the cloud," she said.
Join PHD Malaysia to explore the future implications in MERGE this January. For more information, visit www.phdmedia.com/merge or email Eileen at Eileen.email@example.com.
MERGE content will also be made available on Astro AWANI