We’re standing at the edge of a precipice when it comes to AI: Tamara Ingram, JWT

At exchange4media Conclave, Ingram, Chief Executive Officer of J. Walter Thompson addressed the future of creativity particularly in the context of AI

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Nov 19, 2018 8:05 AM  | 5 min read
Tamara Ingram

From smartphones to driverless cars, there is no denying that artificial intelligence is pretty much becoming commonplace. But what does AI mean for creativity? Does it mean the ability to gain an intelligent creative or marketing "assistant" that can take on these less creative tasks, thereby freeing you to focus on being truly strategic in your work? Should you embrace it or does it pose as a threat?

Answering all this at the exchange4media Conclave which took place on November 16 in Mumbai, Tamara Ingram, Chief Executive Officer of J. Walter Thompson, the Headline Speaker at the annual event discussed ‘Hu(man) and Machine’, and whether AI can be creative.

Watch the video here or read the article below:


Ingram addressed the future of creativity particularly in the context of AI. “Five years ago, I never thought that a machine, something like AI will replace what it means to be human,” she exclaimed.

The CEO discussed media, how creativity is placed and how AI can help with it all. “AI is going to ask us fundamental questions on what it is to be human. “It’s only fair to say that at the moment, we’re standing at the edge of a precipice when it comes to AI and data,” reflected Ingram. She asserted that the power that AI has, it is changing the way, we are teaching people, it is changing the way products are generated and that in the end will change creativity. 

She revealed that if you actually Google search, you will see 4.9 billion searches for creativity and 4.2 billion searches for AI. “AI is becoming as important in people’s minds as creativity,” Ingram said.

Addressing the dilemma whether AI is a friend or foe, she reflected, “What I found distressing is that when you think about AI that people are very concerned about their jobs and the consequences. When we look at Facebook, American elections and what happened, we think that the information that AI fetches is a help to creativity or is it going to dampen the impact and differentiation.”

Ingram shared that her contention today is that there is nothing new in AI. “What’s new is the power of what we can do with AI and the power of how it can either help us with creativity or take away from it,” she pointed out.

She highlighted AI’s power of prediction. “Humans have emotions and that may affect our predictability. The machine has the power to predict like nothing else can. It enables us to predict cancers and generate personalised medicines. It’s enabling us to save the world. Products, after all, are things that solve problems. Our job is around producing and marketing of these live-changing products. I believe it will change the world to something much better than what we are seeing.”

She touched upon how Alexa is leveraging fashion algorithms that can now help people decide between what looks better on them. “It’s human insight but the more we leverage machine-learning, we help people in choosing what they want to wear, eat and how they want to live their lives.”

Ingram contended that while there’s huge optimism, AI has no judgement and has no morality. “It is an algorithm, a formula. It learns from everything it sees.” She explained that how we program our AI, where the morality of thinking is also becomes an important part of our creativity. Ingram emphasised that AI is completely a formula, it can produce art and showcase how it can even make the next Rembrandt.

Making a strong case for the power of imagination, she said, “What makes a difference to creativity is the use of imagination. It is not predictability that makes something a first.” The CEO shared the example of Nike and how it changed the emotions about cricket with their ingenuity.

Ingram also asserted that it is the humour and the imagination of human that makes a difference. “I don’t think that machines have something to pick on something culturally relevant and decide on how funny it can be. “

She went on to add that creativity never stands still. “All of us need to stop taking humans to one side and machines to another. We need to bring them together,” Ingram hinted. Decoding three pillars she believes in, “Humanity, creativity and technology, we believe, is the trick in today’s world.  It’s about bringing these three things together, understanding the insights, what will move people, make them laugh and then doing it with technology because it allows us to bring brand experiences to life in a completely fresh way.”

Ingram shed light on how technology can help brands with more differentiation, sharing the example of the KitKat ad campaign which leveraged technology, brand and human insight smartly.

She went on to advise that all of us need to use AI and master the rules to optimise it to its advantage. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. AI is here to help. There are rules but to be creative, be differentiated but you have to use them,” spelled out Ingram.

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