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Augmented Creativity

Brennan White
June 29, 2016

Augmenting Creativity

"Isn't this killing creativity?" an investor known for his no-BS approach asked bluntly.

The media's treatment of AI to date has been rough. AI eliminating jobs or intelligent people cautioning against AI has been the prevailing narrative. Familiar with the media climate, I wasn't caught flat-footed at his question. I had answered countless versions of "isn't AI bad?" before.

But the investor's version of that question proved deeply intelligent not only because it requires addressing the issue, but also because it requires an explanation of how you're going to sell something that might seem like a threat to the buyer.

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He was smart to put the question in a context of our target users - content marketers.

It implied a second intelligent question: "Wouldn't a creative who is being sold an Artificial Intelligence for Marketing Software immediately bristle at the idea of a software infringing on their creativity?"

It was an key moment for a CEO talking to an important tastemaker in the investment community.

Luckily, this is my favorite question to get, because the truest and simplest answer is also the strongest. "No. Cortex is augmenting creativity and increasing the influence of creatives in their workplace."

With the benefit of hindsight, I've shared the answer to share where we see marketing technology heading.

First off, the vision of Cortex starts and ends with "We believe that the future of work will be dominated by intelligent software and humans working together". I reject the premise that A.I. (of any type) will cause a net loss of jobs for humans. Just like the industrial revolution seemed to guarantee the loss of tons of jobs (weavers, transportation jobs like shipping and animal related jobs, etc), artificial intelligence will increase the power and profitability of individuals where it is deployed. It will make those employees more meaningful to the bottom line, their bosses, and ultimately make them more powerful.
You may not know, I was a music major. Specifically for music composition. The hardest assignments for us weren't "go compose a four-part quartet in the style of Mahler, in the key of F, approximately 6 min runtime." They were "go compose something".

To be fair, "go compose something" is ok once or twice. It's the college-level equivalent of "free play time" in preschool. But after 5 "go compose something"s you run out of ideas. It's hard as hell. Where do you start? What instruments should you use? If you go bigger, will that improve your grade or just waste your time?

Luckily for me, our professors had specific assignments for us almost every class. It was hard, but doable. And after 8 straight semesters of "compose specifically this," you don't get tired or flummoxed, you get better.

By building a plan of content to create, you're simplifying creativity and building a bridge to a future where you have better outcomes.

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