At IAB Australia’s Digital AdOps summit in Melbourne, like most events of 2023, primacy was given to a certain topic. On a day that covered evolutions of programmatic advertising, advertising in the gaming industry and building diverse and inclusive teams, generative AI occupied pride of place.
InnovateGPT chief technology officer Rupert Walsh kicked off proceedings with his analysis of generative AI in the media landscape. Fresh off a 22-year Microsoft stint that saw him oversee development on projects from Azure to AI technology incubation, Walsh is a tech veteran.
He described AI as the “most impactful technology that [he has] seen invented in that time”.
Marketing Mag sat down with Walsh during the event, unpicking his analysis of the generative AI revolution and its years to come.
Embracing change, not rejecting it
To Walsh, the arrival of generative AI presents organisations with a reality akin to the digital revolution that has been unfolding since the latter stages of the 20th century, provided they recognise the opportunity.
“Don’t expect it to be smarter than a human. Expect it to be faster at delivering in a human-like way,” he said, claiming to now use AI in everything he does.
To embrace change and avoid being left behind, Walsh says a business should identify ‘Use Cases’ for generative AI across both processes and customer journey, establish guidelines for responsible use and evaluate emerging tools. Once unique data and intellectual property are considered, a company should look to build bespoke models to maximise the technology’s value.
He encourages leaders to undertake an “intelligent transformation”, urging them to “rethink the entire way [they] do things.”
“There’s a lot of opportunity in how you use the technology and how you combine it with your own language model and your own data,” Walsh told Marketing Mag.
Responsible use underpins Walsh’s entire attitude towards AI, faulting not the technology for hallucinations, the creation of misinformation by generative AI. Instead, he considers any incorporation of unverified information a “behavioural issue”.
Walsh believes these hallucinations can’t be prevented. “And if you did, then I don’t think it would be a generative AI because it would have zero creativity rate. It would be kind of like a search engine,” he said.
Sensationalism surrounding AI
In responding to pessimistic narratives of artificial intelligence, Walsh said a catastrophic scenario is “quite a long way away and we’ll manage it as we get there”, though he notes that it is possible.
“People are saying, well, this is superhuman capability. It’s smarter than you or me. How are we going to manage it? And guess what? We already have a lot of things that are superhuman. Like governments or large organisations, they’re made up of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people,” Walsh said, next pointing to regulation as the answer to such a challenge.
He considers poor governance the root cause of genuine AI threats, and said for any important decisions made there needs to be a human involved to take responsibility, supplementing the lack of emotion in generative AI.
To Walsh, there are risks of inefficiency that need to be balanced with regulation, so that policy neither allows unethical activity nor stifles innovation, applauding the caution Australian legislators hold towards digital policy.
“I’m very happy for our policy makers to take the time to make the right policy because I think it’s very easy to be too slack or too harsh if you try and make decisions early on, and especially when stuff is moving very quickly,” stated Walsh.
The infancy of generative AI in marketing and advertising
During his keynote, Walsh surveyed his audience of experienced advertising professionals to find that few were familiar with his early examples of generative AI in ads, reflecting the dramatic rise in popularity of the technology.
“I’m right in the middle of a generative AI bubble, so I feel like everyone knows most of what I know, but that’s literally all I do every day is research and use and develop solutions on this stuff,” he said.
“But some days I’m really surprised that people don’t know or understand where things are at.”
Now that the profile of generative AI has been raised with the public and professionals alike, Walsh thinks odds are in the favour of those taking risks, since Microsoft and Google have “bet the farm” on generative AI by recently promising to cover relevant legal costs of customers.
At InnovateGPT, Walsh and his team are working with more than 20 Australian businesses born within generative AI to “accelerate what they can achieve”.
Walsh finished, “That’s really the niche that we’re interested in. How do you build new businesses that take care of that? How do you disrupt industries in new ways by really leaning in and putting this technology at the centre of everything you do?”
Find out more about InnovateGPT here.
Images credited to IAB Australia and InnovateGPT.