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Cannes Coverage

AI steals the spotlight at Cannes Lions 2023

Alt text: Photo illustration of a lion next to a laptop with a megaphone coming out of its screen, within a yellow circle decorated by circuit imagery

Illustration by Sarah Kim / Getty / The Current

As the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity winds down this week, a focal point of discussion has emerged: What’s AI’s place in advertising and media?

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) refers to highly autonomous systems or machines capable of exhibiting intelligence and cognitive abilities that mimic humans. For instance — think of a customer service chatbot that goes beyond FAQs and emulates humanlike responsiveness across diverse platforms. The key priorities for artificial intelligence (AI) emerging from Cannes include navigating global regulation, understanding how supercharged chatbots will affect publishers, and tackling the looming question: Will AI supplant human jobs?

The impact of artificial intelligence on marketing jobs

Forrester’s Agency AI-Powered Workforce Forecast for 2030 offers a glimpse into the future of the advertising industry and unveils a concerning trend. It predicts that U.S. advertising agencies and related service companies will witness a decline of 32,000 jobs as a result of automation. However, during a session called “AI Unleashed: How AI Is Revolutionising How We Live, Work and Create,” Jensen Huang, the founder and CEO of Nvidia, offered a contrasting perspective. He suggests that while certain jobs may become obsolete in the long run, the near future holds the promise of generating a plethora of new job opportunities.

“The reason for that is because this new form of technology needs AI researchers, engineers, operators to do things like prompt engineering, fine-tuning, alignment, augmentation so that you create content that is of the voice and the brand integrity of your clients,” he says.

He adds that while some marketers, especially creators, might feel apprehensive about AGI, the machine is not the originator; rather, we are the ones with the “creative control.”

“This is the observation that a lot of people get wrong,” Huang says. “We will democratize content generation, but we will not democratize creativity. The creative process is going to be supercharged working alongside this technology.”

One future-scenario for the industry is that businesses leverage the power of AI alongside human creativity, unlocking a world of innovative and compelling content, and technology continues to serve as a tool to enhance creative work rather than replace it.

Regulation meets AI and beyond

Just this week, European Union lawmakers updated the draft artificial intelligence rules. The changes include a ban on using the technology for biometric surveillance and a requirement for generative AI systems like ChatGPT to disclose AI-generated content. During the session, Huang emphasized the need for regulation in the AI industry, highlighting the diverse sectors it affects, such as health care, retail, transportation, aviation, and importantly, governments — with the potential to use AI in a way that may compromise election integrity. He further stressed the importance of enhancing existing regulations to align with AI advancements.

“AI has the capability of great promise, but it has great peril,” says Huang. “This is an area where international cooperation matters ...Your country and ours need to understand that this is really important to regulate, that we promise not to use the technology for ways that puts humanity in harm’s way.”

He adds that the U.S. should consider regulation making it illegal to impersonate a human digitally without their permission.

“You can’t counterfeit money, so you shouldn’t be able to counterfeit people,” Huang says. “And then if content was created by some creative agency, those assets should be protected.”

As the AI industry continues to advance, ongoing collaboration and vigilance in regulatory frameworks seem to be paramount in realizing the benefits of AI while mitigating its potential risks.

Generative AI, ChatGPT, and media

During a session called “AI and the Media Landscape — Unlocking New Growth Opportunities,” Mathias Döpfner, the chairman and CEO of European media and tech company Axel Springer, said there have been only three “epiphany” moments in his 30-year professional life. He recalled in 1995 when he saw and used the first news website. Then when he held the first iPhone in his hands. And last, not so long ago, was when he saw Open AI’s ChatGPT — which he says has already supplanted his own need for traditional search engines.

“I think advertising remains extremely important, but how advertising is executed will change. It will be more efficient to the benefit of the consumer and to media brands,” Döpfner adds.

In media, only the best original content creators will survive, he predicts — the real opportunity lies in saving money through efficiency gains and then reinvesting those savings in what truly sets publishers apart.

“That differentiating factor is editorial quality, journalistic excellence, and, more specifically, on-the-ground reporting,” says Döpfner. “It’s about going out there, witnessing events firsthand, and describing them in a way that no automated system could replicate. This is where investigative reporting comes into play, unearthing stories that need to be uncovered, delivering real and impactful news that breaks new ground.”

He adds that whether it’s through correspondents reporting from remote corners of the world or captivating commentaries and analyses that challenge the status quo, the power lies in the unique abilities of human journalists.

“They have the opportunity to seize the moment, utilizing their skills, expertise, and personal style to captivate and engage readers in ways that automated systems simply cannot match,” he says.