Cannes Lions 2016: IBM Watson and AI Activations Abound


Cannes Lions Billboard IBM Watson

Artificial intelligence is a major player at Cannes Lions this week. And while AI is expected to transform tech within five years, Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt assured attendees that there’s little chance it will become “evil” as Hollywood films have depicted.

In fact, he said, there are imminent benefits of AI. “Computer vision is now better than human vision. It means self-driving cars probably see a lot better than you, especially if you are drunk.”

Meanwhile, British musician and producer Brian Eno spoke about creativity and AI, defending human intelligence. “AI is not as advanced as we expected it would be,” he said. “And that’s a tribute to the complexity of the human mind.”

Of course, with artificial intelligence such a hot topic on the French Riviera this week, it’s no surprise that IBM Watson has put in an appearance.

For starters, the world’s first emotionally responsive billboard is launching at the Cannes Lions, with clients include Samsung, Nestle and IBM. Throughout the event, the billboard on Le Grand Screen on top of the Grand Hotel Cannes will analyze over 5,000 social media posts per hour via the #canneslions2016 hashtag and serve up ads in 15-minute cycles that coincide in tone and emotion using Watson technology run through Buzz Radar’s Emotional Insights software.

Buzz Radar’s command center at Cannes enables attendees to interact with real-time data visualizations from 300,000 conversations happening online at the festival. “We were born out of a love of data and the desire to make it engaging, fun and intelligible for everyone—not just analysts,” said CEO Patrick Charlton, according to Marketing Tech News. “We now go one step further to take the insights we collect both beautiful and incredibly effective.”

Going even one step further, Saatchi & Saatchi is showcasing the best new directing talent at its annual New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes—with one film was created entirely through AI.

A collaborative effort with Team One, Saatchi & Saatchi’s LA luxury and premium brand agency and Zoic Labs, the film used several technologies including Watson, Microsoft’s Ms_Rinna, Affectiva’s facial recognition software, EEG data and a custom neural art program.

The film, conceived, edited and directed by machines, will premier at NDS debuts on the anniversary of computer pioneer Alan Turing’s birth, June 23, 1912, honoring his role as the first person to ask “Can machines think?”

“Watson” won a Gold and Silver Award in the PR Category at Cannes Lions in 2011—and this year, at Lions Health, attendees heard about the progress digital technologies have made as they move into healthcare.

Specifically, Gorham Palmer, Executive Creative Director at IBM Interactive Experience, talked about how designers play a pivotal role, ensuring that these cognitive experiences address user needs and balance the human experience against the transformative promise of AI. “What do these learning machines mean for the future of healthcare? Will they (accurately?) diagnose our ills? Determine treatment options? Decide who gets what care—and where?”

And, of course, while in France, Watson is betting on picking a Cannes Lions winner and here are the favorites:

  • UK Gold: MullenLowe London—Persil “Free the Kids”
  • UK Silver: J. Walter Thompson London—Listerine “Where’s your mouth been?”
  • UK Bronze: McCann London—Ethos “Time to get away”
  • US Gold: TBWA\Chiat\Day New York—Airbnb “Belong Anywhere”
  • US Silver: Energy BBDO Chicago—Raid “Death has never been more delicious”
  • US Bronze: Energy BBDO Chicago—Ziploc “Life needs Ziploc”

Meanwhile, Watson just edited the latest issue of The Drum, which produced a video showing its staff playing cards and smartphone games and browsing job websites while the work was being done.

Billed as an issue created by artificial intelligence and edited by Watson, the magazine includes an opinion piece by David Kenny, GM IBM Watson. “Right now AI is more about people querying machines,” he wrote.  “My dream is that Watson will ask us questions, giving computers abductive rather than deductive reasoning skills. Abductive reasoning will lead to conversation and dialogue with humans.”


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