What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI) has many names—machine learning, knowledge engineering, and automation technology to name a few. But what does that actually mean?
“Simply put, artificial intelligence is the simulation of human processes, thinking, or learning by machines; most commonly computers,” said John Garmendi, senior manager, sales support engineers and consultants, Sony Electronics. “Depending on the level of sophistication the intelligence can simulate learning, reasoning, and self-correcting, and enable a smarter process. AI offers the ability to enhance creativity, automate processes, and enrich experiences.”
“In most cases, humans typically overuse the term ‘artificial Intelligence’,” added Parrish Chapman, director, enterprise retail sales key accounts, Samsung Electronics America. “I prefer to simplify the term to make tech conversations easier. In general, AI is the process of making machines with intelligence. Looking deeper, AI includes symbolic AI (use of symbols), which is usually more understandable to humans. To perform a task, these symbols combine with a set of rules and a process. From this point, one can define AI further with deep machine learning and other learning ecosystems.”
Artificial Intelligence and Digital Signage
Artificial intelligence has many use cases in digital signage—one of the most common is creating personalized experiences.
“Digital signage has been around for a long time and has proven its worth in being an effective advertising and communication medium,” said Meghna Krishna, CRO, VideoVerse. “Now imagine amplifying that effect by adding a solution that can tailor the content that is shown to the audience, as well as farm the data that is either already available or being collected in real-time. Visual data analytics done seamlessly using existing data and using meta-tagging features and deep learning based on machine learning exponentially increases the impact of the message thus leading to a higher ROI.”
Krishna pointed to the example of a young adult wearing glasses when entering a store, which could trigger a message about a sale on contact lessons. The signage uses AI to create a custom marketing message, which, she says could result in “an immediate sale or even piquing the interest and gaining customer loyalty.”
Watch the video below to learn more about Sharp NEC Display Solutions’ NaViSense, a computer vision solution for gathering anonymous customer attributes.
There are other uses outside of advertising for digital signage, especially in retail. Samsung’s Chapman stated that using artificial intelligence in a physical space allows businesses to obtain customer data in the same way they could gain insight from a website. “By utilizing AI programs, businesses can get their hands on valuable, pure data without human error,” he said. “This takes the burden off in-store personnel and office staff, allowing them to focus on important customer interactions. Businesses are beginning to utilize physical space to power digital signage, leading to a reduction of friction and enhanced ROI.”
Retail is on of the most discussed applications for using artificial intelligence in digital signage, but it’s not the only sector using the technology. “Often overlooked is how useful AI-based audience measurement is to other markets in digital signage,” said Telecine’s VP of business development, David Defelici. “They do not want ‘ads’ on their screens. They want their own communications with their clients and staff. But they are no less interested in understanding their audience, and how effective their communications are.”
He pointed out that many of Telecine’s customers are corporate marketers who seek to better understand their audience via AI gained from digital signage installations; doing so, he said, will help “content creators better communicate message to that audience, but also adjust over time as that audience changes.”
Digital Art and AI
We’ve all seen beautiful immersive installations created by digital artists, and most of these use a fair amount of artificial intelligence to get the job done.
“Artificial intelligence has some interesting applications in the creative arts arena,” said VideoVerse’s Krishna. “The use and application is dependent on how you train the machine and what your objective is.”
Krishna pointed to one of the earliest examples of AI used for art—Harold Cohen’s AARON. Cohen, a pioneer in computer art, graduated from University of London’s Slade School of Fine Art in 1950 and began his life as a painter. Almost 20 years later, Cohen was looking for his next passion and became interested in computer science. From there, he combined his two interests and created AARON, the collective name for a series computer programs that create original artistic images.
Watch the video below to learn more about Cohen and AARON.
“AI can be used to either analyze existing data to recreate new images or combine images to create new art or it can be to support an artistic endeavor by bringing in new dimensions, immersive experiences and audience interactions,” Krishna continued.
Perhaps one of the most famous data artists of our time, Refik Anadol, recently described his work in a TedTalk. “I use data as a pigment and paint with a thinking brush that is assisted by artificial intelligence,” he said. “Using architectural spaces as canvases, I collaborate with machines to make buildings dream and hallucinate.”
“Podcasters, celebrities, and influencers can use AI-generated synthetic media (voices and avatars) to extend their voice, appearance, and brand to new digitally immersive channels such as the metaverse,” said Ryan Bazler, VP or marketing at Veritone. “There they can play their content, interact with communities, and even sell NFTs. With AI-based synthetic media, artists now have a new channel to grow their business.”
“NFT and AI convergence can create a form of generative art. Introducing AI capabilities into the lifecycle of NFTs could open the door to forms of intelligent ownership of art,” added Samsung’s Chapman. “If digital-art NFTs could converse in natural language, this could answer questions concerning the art or explain the inspiration behind their creation.”
Getting Started with Artificial Intelligence
Experts agree that when it comes to getting started with any project related to artificial intelligence, no matter the application, lots of prep work and planning is needed.
The first step, said Samsung’s Parrish, is to decide how you’ll want AI and humans to interact.”All of this new data can be overwhelming, and with many businesses being understaffed, understanding and interpreting the data can become difficult. The best way businesses can solve this and use the data to their advantage is through a comprehensive AI strategy and content plan. This is a simple yet powerful approach to utilizing data to drive outcomes.”
“The strength of AI can also be construed as its weakness,” Krishna cautioned. “Data can be used to suit the objective of the implementer; for example, one could manipulate purchase decisions and steer customers in their favor. Therefore, it also becomes imperative that we have systems in place to safeguard infringement of personal data and information and monitor the usage of applications.”
“The use of AI can raise some potential ethical questions, especially in the case of commercial transactions where the system needs to be careful with how PII (Personally Identifiable Information) is handled,” added Sony’s Garmendi. “It’s also important to follow all applicable regulatory compliance requirements. Another interesting and emerging aspect of AI ethics is the potential for machine bias.”
Creating a strong data privacy plan is absolutely necessary, especially when regulations can vary from country to country and state to state—or in some cases, even from city to city.
“Everyone has privacy concerns in the beginning,” said Telecine’s Defelici. “All the top-tier audience measurement vendors in digital signage have conformed to the regulatory standards in both the E.U., U.S., and specifically California. These applications do not store any video or images. They do not recognize any individual person. They anonymize the data so it cannot be traced back to any single individual.”
According to a Feb. 2020 Brookings Report “As artificial intelligence evolves, it magnifies the ability to use personal information in ways that can intrude on privacy interests by raising analysis of personal information to new levels of power and speed.”
But how what privacy concerns and regulations arise are still largely undetermined. “One must appreciate that, like any enterprise or business, the laws and monitoring needed to ensure safety and security of society are needed here, too,” argued Krishna. “AI and its solutions have to be applied vigilantly. If used correctly and for the right objective, there is no reason to believe that AI could become an existential threat to humanity.”
In addition to a well-thought plan, Samsung’s Parrish also advised that companies take a serious look at their current technology. “Enabling AI when you have established legacy technology can be challenging, especially when you want them to work together. In order to make the integration smoother, companies can start by storing their legacy data in a cloud and use AI to filter through and determine what is and isn’t useful information for AI. It is important to remember that AI is not all knowing, but if it’s used properly, it can act as a time machine.”
The Future of Artificial Intelligence
From conference rooms and homes to retail spaces, artificial intelligence is all everywhere and its applications are continuously expanding—with no end in sight.
“AI is today a part of your everyday life and is not just a technology used for advanced purposes; right from search engines, social media feeds, online shopping to advanced use like autonomous cars. AI is already revolutionizing society and how we live today,” concluded Krishna. “Similar to any new technology or advancement, it can be used maliciously and have negative effects if checks and balances are not followed.”