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How AI can help us be more human again

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From Leonardo da Vinci to the writer Zora Neale Hurston, artists throughout the ages have been inspired by muses. Today’s muses come in a very different form, however – like IBM cognitive computing system Watson.

“It’s a new domination in creativity brought together by man collaborating with machine,” said IBM Chief Digital Officer Bob Lord in the session ‘Man, Machine and Creativity: IBM Watson and Alex Da Kid’ which took place in Cannes at the International Festival of Creativity.

Lord made a powerful case for the humanising impact of AI by highlighting the world’s first cognitive dress by the designer Marchesa, recently showcased at the Met Gala.

The so-called data-driven dress changes colours based on an analysis of fan sentiment in real time and, was designed using Watson artificial intelligence(AI) technology cognitive tools from IBM Research. Now Watson is helping to make music and recently collaborated with Grammy-winning music producer Alex da Kid to write a hit song.

During the session, Lord and da Kid discussed how the world has never been so dynamic and this new environment requires new ways of thinking. Augmented human creativity is the future, they claimed.

“Watson can comprehend 800 words a second. It can understand tone, personality and emotion,” Lord explained.

It also has the ability to scan and analyse information from many more resources than a human can in a short period of time, potentially aiding doctors in diagnosing patients quickly – just one of a number of features that set Watson apart from Siri, Alex and Cortana.

Which is why it is now helping almost every industry – powering cognitive assistants used to detect melanoma in Australia, overturning parking tickets in London, and providing refugee assistance.

Da Kid, who has worked with Rihanna, outlined the incredible creative opportunities that Watson and the smart use of data can provide for artists.

"Every artist is different. They all have micro audiences around them. And understanding the thing that influences them is key," he said, adding that data is able to fine-tune these audiences.

For example, he described how he has always been "drawn to darker songs” and how when data analysis revealed this was the case for many other people, too, he and Watson were able to create a song in tune with people.

"The future is super bright with music and data," he said. Like Moneyball, Lord added, data would be able to mine data to find the new hit songs and popstars by being able to gauge the data and analyse people’s reactions.

Augmented human creativity is an incredibly powerful concept, both readily admitted. And the reason’s simple: by forcing us to consider real time data and respond to sentiment analysis from consumers, AI can help us become more human again.

The message was clear: with more customer data now at our fingertips than ever before, more sophisticated cognitive tools and the next generation of Alexa promising to recognise even its user’s mood – richer insights will enable us to be increasingly creative.

-  Matthew Heath is chairman at LIDA

Cover image: Constantin Paschou

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