Explore the pros and cons of AI during #PTW18

Trust the machine or fight it? MRP marketing chief James Regan previews his upcoming talk at Philly Tech Week 2018 presented by Comcast.

How much control should we cede to the machines?

(Photo via Pixabay)

This is a guest post by MRP CMO James Regan.

From autonomous cars to Siri and Alexa, artificial intelligence is quite literally becoming a household name.

As AI increasingly becomes an integrated part of how we live, play and work, many people feel skeptical, hesitant and even fearful of an AI-powered future. As someone who works with AI daily, I wanted to unpack some of the confusion and misunderstanding around AI as it exists in business now and how it will shape the future, and I wanted to understand how Philadelphia’s business and academic leaders understand the opportunities and challenges surrounding AI.

That’s how our Philly Tech Week event, Learning to Trust the Machine, was born.


AI is more than a trend: It’ll result in a shift in the way we do everything.

In that way, AI can almost be considered the new internet. From my perspective, business leaders must either align on an AI strategy for their organization or assume the risk of their competitors using it to drive them out of business. That’s not to say that diving into an AI strategy comes without risk, doubt or misunderstood expectations.

Already, AI impacts everything from the music we listen to, to the shows we watch, to the cars we buy. The average person would probably be surprised if they could see an itemized account of all of the different ways AI already influences them directly or indirectly. AI-enabled technologies offer seemingly endless possibilities in the fields of health care, manufacturing, finance, education and more.


Of course, one of the major concerns about AI is the threat it poses to jobs. While I can’t speak to all industries, I believe we have to accept the inevitability of an increasingly AI-powered environment and begin a serious, global dialogue on how our existing structures will need to evolve.

As a CMO, I’m constantly assessing and reassessing where we spend our money. Marketing has traditionally been a difficult area to demonstrate ROI, and yet our success tends to be measured on outcomes and efficiency. With AI-embedded software, each dollar spent becomes more efficient and effective as the machine sorts and assesses data to understand my target audiences better than my teams ever could. Increasingly, machine-learning tools can even help marketers to build and execute their marketing plans from start to finish. Each industry likely faces a similar future in which AI can maximize the impact of the investments we make.



In a way, AI will become a tool to amplify and strengthen the reach and magnitude of anything we do. For me, that’s helping my clients reach their customers and potential customers with just the right message at just the right time. For already skilled and passionate healthcare providers, AI might mean a way to reach more patients and keep communities healthier. For all the concern about AI in the future, there are millions of beneficial applications to be explored.

That said, across all industries, we need to think realistically about the skills that our new AI-driven world will require and the potential risks that come with the proliferation of AI throughout our world. History has taught us that clinging to the past won’t stop the future from arriving, and AI is the future. AI offers all of us an opportunity to think about the kind of impact we want ourselves and our organizations to have and to use technology to advance and scale those outcomes. For organizations that embrace AI, the technology can amplify and expand the product of their work immensely. So, how can we make AI work for us? How can we trust the machine?


We all need a little help learning to trust the machine and focusing on gaining the skillsets and attitude necessary to thrive with AI. These ideas require further exploration and I’m excited to hear from other Philadelphians at Philly Tech Week on May 2 as we grapple with the reality that an AI-powered future is coming, whether we’re ready or not.

Projects: Philly Tech Week
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