How Westworld Foreshadows the Future of Marketing

The impact of machine learning and artificial intelligence


It’s unnerving to think we’re closer to the technology of Westworld than ever before. When the original rendition of the story came out in 1973, the chaos and takeover of machinery seemed so far in the future, it couldn’t be seen as anything more than science fiction. Now, with artificial intelligence (AI) literally at the tips of our fingers, the future may not be so distant, after all.

Forbes recently spoke with SAP Hybris Chief Marketing Officer Jamie Anderson about the more sentient part of Westworld‘s technology. Machine learning (ML), as opposed to AI, actually allows the machines to use algorithms to learn and predict better outcomes without being directly programmed. In theory, the intelligence surfaces at the appropriate time with the most appropriate response.

Like maybe wasting an entire town of hosts and humans?


Naturally, Westworld made its way into the discussion, and Anderson had some… chilling words.

I think we’re pretty close. The feeling around watching the new Westworld is that we’re on the apex of making a breakthrough because [of] all the advances in computing power, the ability to process information from multiple data sources in real time, and neural networks.

I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been. We’re not interpreting data that’s living in a system which is already out of date, but actually interpreting a live transactional system that a person is using. What we tend to find is that most people are trying to achieve something at a specific point in time. So [we enhance] your ability to apply the machine learning algorithms to what is happening, and then create a response which is meaningful.

He adds the “next layer,” which will create a truly human experience:

We’re exceptionally close to adding the next layer to that, which is interpreting emotion. I think this is something which is entirely overlooked. Soon, a machine will start to understand the subtext of what someone is saying or typing, to be able to look at the things that they do not just [say] explicitly, but also the implicit signals that come.

This is starting to sound a whole lot like Delos’s deliverance of customer service. He tells us how this change will affect marketing:

It will change because, as the responses themselves become more intelligent, the thing that becomes really important is how you orchestrate the overall customer experience. What’s lacking from those types of predetermined responses to a set of triggers is understanding the emotional aspect. I think we entirely overlook the fact that people make emotional decisions.

While it’s astonishing to see the power of machines, after the first season of Westworld we also need to be weary of the consequences (but, hey – at least we’re not recreating dinosaurs). Be sure to check out Forbes for more on the applications and implications of AI and ML, and their affects on marketing practices.

What do you think of the future of this technology? Could Westworld actually happen? Leave us your thoughts below!

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