A recent report predicts that spending on artificial intelligence (AI) in retail will reach $7.3 billion by 2022, with 30 percent of it being allocated toward marketing automation.
AI marketing has been disruptive in the retail industry by providing countless benefits to retailers of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to small e-commerce shops. These benefits include saving time and money while engaging with a larger set of customers to increase revenue.
This is because AI has the power to analyze billions of data points in the blink of an eye and translate it into actionable insights. For a human, this would take an entire lifetime. But with AI, marketers can better understand what components drive the greatest return.
With AI, What Can Go Wrong?
While AI will be adopted by 50 percent of marketers in 2019 alone, this comes with many challenges. One of the biggest challenges was brought to the industry’s forefront with the recent launch of a viral face app.
This past month, ImageNet Roulette allowed people to upload selfies and have AI guess what kind of person they are. It was trained with a vast database of more than 14 million labelled images. It was fun at first. Then, it showed the dangers of AI bias and underscored the exact problem with this technology.
Although this viral project was specifically designed to reveal the inherent problems with classifying humans with AI — whether it’s by race, gender, emotions or characteristics — it brings up the important topic of using the technology ethically.
Let’s Get Ethical
AI does open up endless possibilities for targeting, engaging and converting potential customers. However, with this power comes the responsibility to be ethical. With lack of universal industry standards, it’s up to leaders to make the hard decisions and implement the right pathway for AI integration. To ensure you’re deploying AI ethically in marketing efforts, make sure to do the following:
- Establish best practices. Since AI adoption is still in its infancy, many companies lack a strategic focus on integration, which can lead to ethical issues. To address this, make sure to establish best practices ahead of time to ensure AI works objectively. This includes understanding how AI learns, how it prescribes tags to images and words, and how data come together to serve recommendation to users.
- Build diverse teams. Companies that integrate AI need to ensure it reflects the diversity of their users. Committing to diversity and representation allows for the humans behind AI to bring varied perspectives and ask necessary questions. As a result, the AI solution will be as ethically sound and unbiased as possible, enabling it to find the best solutions for its users.
- Reinforce learning. To build the best AI solution possible, reinforcement learning is necessary. With reinforcement learning, developers can reward AI when it self-corrects mistakes and when its outcomes align with a more ethical approach to data processing. This allows marketers and developers to train AI to be more ethical, which in turn makes it less subjective.
- Be transparent. It’s vital to be open and honest about your deployment of AI with customers. This means answering any question a shopper has about the technology. Attempting to hide the fact you’re using AI could destroy trust with a customer, whereas being transparent can build more patience for the technology.
This is my biggest fear in AI: ethics. As brands and marketers, we must comprehend the human side of what we’re doing and build better pathways to ethical AI. While AI can have a profound impact, we need to ensure the ethical side of it is being addressed to ensure this technology is changing industries for the better.
R.J. Talyor is the CEO and founder and Pattern89, an artificial intelligence platform to improve paid social advertising results.
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