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June 19, 2018
AI vs. creativity: can artificial intelligence get creative?
By: Accenture Interactive Cannes Lions 2018 Insights

Nearly 20% more marketers are prioritizing AI now than in 2016. Uses of AI are many and manifold. AI can help source deep and meaningful data insight to drive ever-more personalized experiences. It can ideate and iterate basic ideas and coordinate creative direction. It can aid execution at scale, driving multiple versions across different markets, while maintaining version control.

Brands are certainly embracing AI. Diageo chief digital officer Ben Sutherland said that AI at the company was progressing from "slightly gimmicky" ideas to testing and learning functions - citing work for its whisky brand Johnnie Walker. Netflix for example, uses AI to work out what is required to create a hit series, and then develops accordingly.

So far, so operational. But is this impacting creativity? Actually yes. Many of these tasks can be quite mundane and time-consuming which can free up creatives to do the things that they are good at. Creating things.

AI can also help provide the technology to deliver new creative ideas. For example, the work recently created by Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive, for The Times newspaper used AI to bring to life the speech that John F. Kennedy was due to deliver on the day of his assassination in Dallas, Texas. Rothco used techniques including Deep Neural Networks, to shape a model of JFK’s voice track and amalgamate them to form the finished product. This meant reviewing 831 analogue recordings, applying audio processing to remove noise and crosstalk, and using spectrum analysis tools to improve acoustic environment and match them across samples. The audio was then finessed using post-production techniques. The result, a beautifully creative campaign, powered by AI.

But the creative input for this campaign was a human idea. And it is debatable whether AI will ever be able to replace that very human spark that sits at the core of creativity. AI is easily able to replicate the art works of The Great Masters, by learning from their work, but it won’t be able to create original work that breaks with tradition, such as Picasso.

“The thing about creativity is that it’s original” said Alan Kelly, Executive Creative Director at Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive. “And originality comes from connecting previously unconnected things. There is no logic to it, you can’t teach it, and you definitely can’t learn it. The winners that you see at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity are usually firsts – first use of technology, first use of an insight, first development of a new channel. AI will be able to support that but not come up with the idea.”

Eco Moliterno, Chief Creative Officer, Accenture Interactive Latin American suggests that blending the strengths of a machine, speed, accuracy and predictive capabilities, with human strengths, creativity, dexterity, judgment and nuance, will surely reap the biggest benefits. “Ultimately, AI will not kill creativity or put marketers out of a job” he says. “What it can do is augment and assist marketers and creatives. Think of AI as a new team member that is fully integrated into the full marketing strategy and creative mix. This is when you can start to realize real value from AI”.

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