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Beware, the monster is now amongst us

Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer at JWT MEA

I’m not afraid of that Algorithm guy, me. But I am getting seriously pissed off with him. Here’s a fella who seems to have evolved from an obscure chapter in the school’s math book to the equivalent of a horseman of the apocalypse. Whichever way you look, there’s always a threat or a menace from him, and it is always so obscure, so insidious even, that I am beginning to think that Algorithm – let’s call him Algo – is an alien life-form sent to eliminate us all.

Algo takes different shapes and adapts to the environment he wants to destroy – and always under the guise of help and practicality. That environment can be a task, a job and, as Algo grows and improves, an entire industry. It all seems to start with the perfectly human desire to automate, to simplify or to just hand over a menial task to artificial intelligence. And this is Algo’s favourite hunting ground, because it is his way in and into greater endeavours. From numbers crunching in a media house for instance, Algo has slowly metamorphosed into a media booking facilitator and, before you knew it, turned into the monster that programmatics is, wiping away legions of media planners. In a graphics studio, he has made his way into the toolbox and, as we speak, the entire branding industry is trembling at the sight of a programme that can design you a logo based on whatever info you feed it.

Still, big bad Algo had never set foot in the creative department and the threat to creatives was always going to come from sources that are considerably more human. Until now, that is. That’s because the monster is amongst us: Algo can now map you out and use your social media profile to throw at you a video ad that is just made for you – and contextually, instantly and geo-locatingly. So yes, Algo, you’re now officially a creative – a fast-working, hard-working creative – but you still don’t scare me. Because frankly, you may know who the consumer is, but you still have no clue how he or she feels.

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