The messaging around artificial intelligence needs to change.


A dear friend of mine, Amol – one of the finest minds I know, and a childhood friend – and I got talking about perception and how the technical, as well as the marketing functions, need to work together to allow the ‘artificial’ intelligence to achieve traction and above all a wide acceptance.

We both feel, that there is something wrong with the term Artificial Intelligence and it is to do with how it is being marketed. Let me explain.

Intelligence is an ability to apply logic,  to learn, to reason, to iterate. We can also include creativity and problem solving as a form of intelligence. At its core, learning is the fundamental unit of intelligence. There cannot be intelligence without constant learning.

The process of intelligence involves observations,  data collection which is then transformed into inferred information that is retained as the knowledge base. The knowledge base can then be applied in future scenarios or cross applied it to different applications.

In short, there is nothing special about learning or intelligence, it is an iterative process, some do better than others. Basically, it is just an algorithm. We need to get away from thinking of intelligence as an abstract. It is not.

Think about how children learn to walk. Or for that matter do anything. There is a lot of trial and error but eventually, they succeed. We are at the same level here with respect to computer learning. We are feeding the data to the computers and helping them to make sense of it. An example could be self-driving, here what cameras see on the road is capture and the different things which make up the environment (trees, bins. pedestrians) are tagged by humans; this tagged sources is what acts as a template with which the computers can make sense and execute decision over a period of time.

The process of data, inference, retention, application is user agnostic. It can be done by animals or machines for that matter. The value of the knowledge base that is created using this process is useful. Ranking this learning or intelligence on the basis of superiority just because humans would like to be on the top of the pyramid compared to every species at the bottom and hence inferior or artificial just does not make sense. It goes to show our collective bias, ignorance and hubris.

Referring to human intelligence as ‘natural’ and machine learning as ‘artificial’ is naive. We as a species need to think that we have created machines and now as a natural progression have also imparted them with the ability to learn.

The second point is my plea to the fellow marketing community. The onus is on us to show machine learning and ‘artificial’ intelligence in a positive light.

There are no adverts or marketing campaigns for sugary, unhealthy, zero nutritional value drinks. Instead, we talk about happiness, being able to achieve more (gives you wings) with these drinks. The power of association works and fizzy drinks are a multi-billion dollar product category.

We need to apply the same level of energy and creativity in explaining computer learning and computer intelligence. If we can not achieve a positive connotation than the fear of Artificial Intelligence and singularity will only escalate. This will impede its progress.

Machine learning can be termed as ‘iterative leaning’, ‘silico learning’, ‘task transfer’.

Artificial Intelligence could be termed as ‘acquired intelligence’, ‘general intelligence’.


It’s high time where we acknowledge intelligence for what it is and not call it ‘artificial’.

Photo by Brian Kostiuk – @BriKost on Unsplash