Smart vs Intelligent

Firstly, let’s get something straight! We use smart phones and smart technology but we are still a long way off intelligent technology or at least it being integrated into our everyday lives.

What is Smart? Smart is the when the lights in my lounge turn on when I’m within half a mile of my house, smart is my washing machine knowing to use less water because the load is smaller.

What is Intelligent? Intelligent is a decision being made for us or being able to hand over decision making.

We have a global group developing open Artificial Intelligence (AI), said to be free open source AI for the world, but what is it and do we want it?

In our industry, Smart (that will become intelligent) is Programmatic digital advertising; profiling what you like, how old you are etc. and serving you the correct advert. For me, these are the things I like and want to buy. Programmatic digital advertising is changing how media is being bought. Today it is still Media Buyers who are buying programmatic but in the next couple of years, we will see Marketing and Digital Marketing teams directly buying it as the dashboards get better and as AI develops…

So how is AI developing so far?

Open AI is a non-profit group supported by $1Bn dollars of funding, hiring some of the smartest people on the planet; world class research engineers and scientists! Open AI aims to create software that learns; show it a picture of a cat enough times that it learns what a cat is or, drive a car enough that it learns to drive (I’ll come back to this point).

Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Tesla are just some of the big players in this space to use AI to enhance services or products. One of my previous blogs about ZEC Zero Effort Commerce explains “smart shopping” (if you are in ecommerce or retail it’s worth a read) and how you can receive goods before you need them by intelligent prediction.

Driverless Car

I guess the biggest impact we are aware of is driverless cars which follow the AI model of learning, but the issue here is how us humans interpret situations. The first Google driverless crash (that was the car’s fault) was because it presumed the bus driver would slow down or allow the car to encroach into the bus driver lane to avoid a drain cover… NO. Bus drivers (in my experience) are not always overly polite to car drivers and why should they be? They have timetables and places to be.

The more alarming intelligent car crash was the Tesla fatal crash on May 7th, when Joshua Brown died after his car hit a truck while on Autopilot. This has caused a huge outcry of ban the driverless car. But first, some facts:

Whilst my condolences go to Mr Brown’s family, to put this into context he was also overtaking another car on full autopilot while watching a film, the autopilot system is still tagged as in development and you should always have your hands on the wheel. If you measure the Tesla Autopilot crash against the global death rate in road collisions AI cars are twice as safe as you or I driving!

So smart or intelligent?

Smart for me at the moment please; I like seeing adverts for things I might consider buying rather than random stuff. I like reminders, I like my washing machine helping me wash… But as for intelligence, I know a bus driver probably won’t give way and not to watch films at 50mph unless I’m on a train. So I’ll pass on intelligent technology for now.


Gavin Anderson | Director | 22nd July 2016