Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer (ChatGPT) were on the menu at the sold-out, MII MCCP Breakfast event on March 2nd and we certainly tucked in!

Aidan Connolly, CEO of Idiro Analytics started his presentation with a sobering quote from Stephen Hawking that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,”. But Connolly was quick to reassure us that from his own perspective it was more likely that AI will serve as a valuable tool to power our own creativity. That instead of replacing people it will serve as a means of improving decision making and productivity.

To illustrate his point, he showed us an apt example of ChatGPT in action. Aidan asked, “What do I talk to a room full of marketers about?” At which point ChatGPT churned out a range of various topics and ideas succinctly listed and itemised. (Image 1) The point was clear that answers like this can form the basis of ideation and a launching point for the creative process but ultimately the decision making, fact-checking, structure, and human element lies in the hands of the speaker.

(Image 1)

This is just one small example of the many practical implications of AI and ChatGPT. Aidan sees the potential impact of AI as being so profound that instead of BC and AD, in the future we will measure time in the Pre AI and Post AI periods. An interesting proposition from an expert in the field. Luckily for those of us less versed in AI he went back to basics to give a broad overview of what exactly AI is. “Artificial general intelligence emulates the capabilities of a human and can learn at the speed of light.” he explained.

He quoted a statistic about ChatGPT, also referenced here in Time Magazine, from Swiss bank UBS which noted that “in 20 years following the internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app.”…”Only 2 months after its launch the chatbot had 100 million monthly active users in January.

Aidan went on to clarify that “It’s trained on data up until 2021 so it has no knowledge of events after that, for example the war in the Ukraine.” However he did say there will be another version coming at some point in the future. Aidan also made sure to add that although ChatGPT is by far the most popular there are other options out there in the market already like Google’s LaMDA and Meta’s RoBERTa.

When Aidan moved to discussing examples of AI generated digital images by the likes of DALL-E the conversation quickly turned to the “grey area” of legislation, ownership and royalties. There are court cases taking place at present with outcomes yet to be decided and legislation in development by EU Courts for the last 5 years, so you’ll have to watch this space to find out the outcomes. He did mention a pioneering Irish legal service which is already vetting AI data so the solutions are bound to follow the problems as we marketers well know.

Ivan Caffrey Senior Data Scientist, Idiro Analytics began to take the conversation “under the hood” so to speak and used some relatable examples of AI implementation in business, demonstrating how it can transform information or ‘big data’, into insight and value. He shared two sample charts detailing how decisions could be made to optimise budget spending which would get the most return on investment.

(Chart 1 & 2)

There is a clear difference in the strategies, and the benefits are obvious, so where is the catch? Well turns out the devil is in the data. The predictive models, analysis and interpretations are only as good as the historical data they are built on. When asked “how much is enough?” it felt uncannily close to questioning him on how long a piece of string is; that is a question without one true answer.

Ivan explained that having “noisy” data like 100 small examples over a short time period will produce “noisy” curves likely to be less interpretable and impactful than say 100 million examples over a number of years which would deliver clearer patterns. Here he emphasised the importance of a data strategy and a data pool integrated with IT. The data base needs to be built before the data can be managed and manipulated. He was quick to reassure us that we may be collecting data already without realising exactly how much we have at our fingertips. Tools like HubSpot etc. already having inbuilt features which can be manipulated.

Aidan took this moment to recommend getting very close with your IT Manager, if you aren’t already. It’s never too late to start and you may already be doing more than you realise. Shane McGonigle, CEO, MII also spoke up here to encourage us by quoting Michael Wu, AI Strategist and upcoming Keynote Speaker at MII DMX 2023 when he said that AI won’t replace people but a manager who knows AI will replace one that doesn’t.

Ivan has been working at the coalface of data development for a long time and his final thoughts were reassuring. “I bring the value of knowing what to do and AI can do the donkey work for me.” He compared AI in the future to being similar to having your own personal intern. “It’s not like Google,” he elaborated, “It doesn’t have a repository of data. It’s an interface that understands what you are asking and what you want.” You will still need to manage them, but they will free up more time for you to spend on the actual decision-making process.

When the Q&A took place at the end of the presentation hands shot up across the room and there was lively back and forth delving deeper into the specific applications and predictions for Members individual workplaces. There was some debate about the potential implications for vulnerable users and the lack of understanding a software can have for human emotions.

Then near the end Ivan was interrupted by his own phone playing his morning alarm and he blithely admitted; “That’s my normal time to get up.” Laughter echoed through the room, and we were reminded of the irreplaceable humanity of humour and suddenly the hypothetical AI “apocalypse” didn’t loom so large anymore.

We are grateful to our sponsors MCCP for making this illuminating networking event possible.

The details of the next Marketing Breakfast event will be available soon. Join our mailing list here to receive MII updates.