October 9, 2011
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The coming intelligence explosion in communications

In the decades to come, we should see the advent of ultra-intelligent, super-targeted marketing enabled by technology that amplifies our brain power and applies artificial intelligence.

The rise of ‘social operating systems’ like Facebook and Weibo makes it possible to share more information with infinitely large communities, but at the same time the sheer size of our expanding social networks is making it more difficult to communicate with individuals in a genuinely personal and customised manner. Nowadays communication must consist of listening as well as talking and given the broad scale yet atomized sensibility demanded by digital, in the future we will need the new thinking and augmented capacities we currently lack.

Public relations professionals have always been intelligent agents of information-sharing, knowing how to, where to, and when to share information with which people in different sequences so that they do or think things achieving intended communications and commercial outcomes. It used to be that we would need to have relationships with dozens of journalists and communicate through them with a mass audience via story placement.

Now we need to ‘know’ vast numbers of people – be they elite opinion-makers or average citizens – and maintain active and customized relationships with hundreds, thousands, even multi-millions. The dead reckoning of today’s PR minds won’t be enough to handle all this and there’s no canvas large enough where we can paint the far more sophisticated plans that will be required. So I think it is inevitable that we will need to delegate more and more power to super-smart systems that will help us communicate in what is becoming an unbelievably complex environment.

We need technology to help us simplify exponential complexity and today’s best algorithms aren’t solving the problems of scale and sensibility that are getting bigger than our current capability to address. This trend may become most evident in Asia, where we need to apply new technology to communicate effortlessly across diverse cultural and linguistic boundaries as never before.

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