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AI and marketing, a 2019 love story

(TECHNOLOGY) AI has permeated its way into almost every corner of the internet and now, brands are using it in fun new ways on social media.

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ai artificial intelligence

Way back in the 1950s, when computers were the size of studio apartments and magnetic tape was cutting edge technology, MIT professor Marvin Minsky defined “AI” (artificial intelligence) as any technology that demonstrates one or more of the qualities associated with human intelligence: perception, learning, problem-solving, even motion.

Whether you recognize it or not, AI is ubiquitous today. It powers your Amazon purchases, it secures your credit card accounts, and it enables Siri to listen and reply from the far side of the Uncanny Valley.

For the past few years, marketers have been using AI technology parse huge amounts of data, automate simple tasks, and, to a lesser extent, customize communications for specific audience segments. According to Salesforce, just over half of marketers currently use AI technology, and another 29% are expected to incorporate some form of artificial intelligence by the end of 2019.

One of the most interesting ways that marketers are currently using AI technology is to identify emerging influencers on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Broadly defined, influencers are leaders of self-organized social media communities. To paraphrase Hemingway, influencers are just like you, except they have more followers. And, increasingly, they tell those followers where to shop and what to buy.

Brands are pouring money into social rising stars. 70% of brands will increase their influencer marketing spend next year, says eMarketer. For every dollar spent on influencer marketing in 2017 brands saw a staggering return of $7.65. But finding the right influencers is a tedious process, even for major brands like Nike and Target. That’s where AI comes in. Brands can harness the power of AI to scan their audiences and identify the individuals who are leading conversations, garnering likes and comments, and speaking in a tone that dovetails with the brand’s voice.

In 2018, Qoints, a benchmarking platform for digital marketers, launched AI Social Discovery, a tool that helps brands find the right micro-influencers (those with 50 to 50k followers) for marketing campaigns.

AI Social Discovery is powered by IBM’s Watson, the artificial intelligence technology best known for beating Ken Jennings on Jeopardy. In 2016, Watson helped car maker Kia identify hundreds of social influencers to boost engagement for a Super Bowl spot starring Christopher Walken.

Artificial Intelligence won’t rise up and overthrow its human masters, but it just might revolutionize the way we build communities around brands. And that’s good news. It means more contextually relevant messages for consumers, and more effective ad spends for marketers.

Marshall Walker Lee is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and a Creative Director based in Austin, Texas. He works with emerging brands and nonprofits, helping them build stronger relationships through storytelling.

Real Estate Technology

Are Millennials going to buy into 3D printed hotels?

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) 3D printed anything became a giant attention getter a couple years ago, but could the biggest winners be odd tourist attractions?

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3D printed star

If you were ever wondering what the next marketing to the millennials ploy would be, well wonder no more! It’s 3D printed hotels.

Habitas is the company that “…is a global hospitality group created by a diverse community of people seeking human connection, authentic experiences, and a better future. We measure success not by the number of stars given, but the number of smiles received, hearts warmed, minds opened, and friends made.

If that isn’t trying to appeal to the millennial crowd with buzz phrases then I don’t know what is. Even their descriptions of the “experiences” they offer are filled with buzz word salad. I’ll get to those later

I’m all for 3D printed products, if there is a cheaper, more flexible, creative way to produce things you need, then do it! I can count dozens of times I would love to just print out some tool I don’t want to go buy or some lego piece I swear was just in my hand.

3D printed homes are an amazing feat, because of their low cost, and quick build times. This technology could help millions buy a home with all the features they want for less than the price of a car.

It only makes sense that hotel chains, or new hotel companies would want to join in this revolutionary tech. A company could build a hotel cheaper, quicker, and more remotely. Habitas is pushing hard on this last point.

Habitas has 3D printed hotels in Africa, 2 in Mexico with one on the way, and in Bhutan. These places were chosen to bring customers out of their normal habitat into places unknown, just like their statement claims.

Their “rooms” look pretty sparse and open, literally open. Many don’t seem to have walls or windows, so they look like glorified tents, but again without walls. That would put me firmly outside my comfort zone, which might be the point.

Habitas open room

The $200-$400/night price on the other hand has me really wondering what the company is thinking. I assume the cost is because they offer a dive into the deep end of culture, but I see a company who wants to profit from the fyre festival crowd.

Their locations are some of the hottest places on earth, and there is not an AC to be seen in their “rooms”. But hey maybe not everyone wants to be comfortable when they sleep.

The rooms aren’t everything with this kind of company, they also have amazing “experiences” to offer. Things like a 3 day Reintegration which sounds amazing.

If perception is reality, we are masters of design. Our lives are our greatest masterpiece. With fervent desire and child-like wonder, we bring fantasies to life, creating realities far better than our dreams. Together, we share these worlds with one another, traversing borders in search of adventure. When we open our eyes, under starlit skies and dancing candlelight, we are home.

We welcome you to Reintegration, our immersive three-day wellness gathering at our home in Tulum. Through breath work and yoga, we’ll reconnect to the creator in all of us. Tantalizing concerts, exotic ingredients and local escapes await us. This is an open call to discover ourselves both in conversation and silence, travel and stillness.

Only when we return to the source of our power can we embrace what lies ahead.”

What? Yoga, food, and music. Ok, well sure that sounds good I guess. How much for that light experience?

“Starting from $2,015”

My wallet just died, so did my bank account, and I can’t eat this week. I’ve been on a week long cruise with all food included, and went to multiple beaches in different countries for half that.

I’m a realist, and that first paragraph in the description is nonsense. Just because we can perceive doesn’t necessitate that we can create. This Reintegration doesn’t walk you through creating anything, it’s yoga and eating. So how can you share something you haven’t created with someone else who also hasn’t created anything? I don’t know about anyone else but creativity is not the source of my power, mine is stress.

This description stressed me out enough to write this story, so I guess it’s working. At least I didn’t pay $2,000 for the pleasure though.

Regardless of the wording, the cost, and the no walls (I’m comfortable in my box), this may be a great experience for those who can afford it, and are looking for vague spiritual guidance. Plus the rooms do look aesthetically pleasing regardless of missing amenities

But for the vast majority of millennials who I know can’t afford this, and recognize this kind of pandering to pry food money out of our pockets, we don’t need this.

We need the 3D printing technology to focus on houses that we can afford. So please 3D print something more than a roof to do yoga under.

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Real Estate Technology

Google Maps’ new default route will prioritize green over speed

(REAL ESTATE TECH NEWS) Sorry commuters, but Google Maps will be updating their routes’ priority from ‘fastest’ to ‘greenest’ route within the next year.

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Google Maps ready to plot a new route inside of a car.

Google is making it easier for you to offset your carbon footprint. The Google Maps app will soon default to the greenest route instead of the fastest one.

To find the most environmentally friendly route, Google is taking insights from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab. Its navigation algorithm will consider factors like slopes, inclines, road type, and traffic congestion to find the most eco-friendly route.

For those in a rush, this might be a cause for worry, but there is no need for that. You have the option to adjust your preference settings to turn this feature off. Also, the app will default to the greenest route only when the estimated travel time of the fastest route is about the same. If the most fuel-efficient route is longer, Google Maps will give you other options to compare ETAs and carbon emissions.

“What we are seeing is for around half of routes, we are able to find an option more eco-friendly with minimal or no time-cost trade-off,” Russell Dicker, a director of product at Google said.

The feature is set to launch on Android and iOS in the U.S. later this year and will expand to other countries.

Also, Google is supporting cities that have established low emission zones by alerting a driver when they will be passing through a low emission zone that restricts some vehicles from passing through them. These warnings will inform users if their car is allowed in that area so they can choose another form of transportation or select a new route if they need to. In June, these low emission zone alerts will launch in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the UK.

In addition, Google Maps is making it easier to compare different routes and modes of transportation with a “comprehensive view”. Instead of switching between tabs to view different destination times, you’ll be able to compare car, cycling, public transportation, etc. all in one place.

Google’s new eco-friendly navigation option, along with the other Google Maps app updates, is part of the company’s commitment to reduce and help its users reduce their environmental footprint. Since 2007, the tech giant has been carbon neutral, and it plans on being carbon-free by 2030. With these changes, the company seems to be making strides in the right direction to get there.

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Real Estate Technology

How fake images are infiltrating suburban geography

(REAL ESTATE TECH NEWS) The rise in quality of deepfakes has even lead to the development of fake images in geography and housing. Here’s what to look out for.

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A digital map open on a computer, where one has to be wary of fake images.

With the onset of the computer age, we have seen a great deal of false information spreading around the world. From photoshopped images to presidents broadcasting fake information, there is a lot to be wary of. The internet is rife with data that truly needs to be verified at any given turn. The dangerous part is not only what people can do with that information, but also how they can hide things with it.

Satellite imagery has been on the rise for a few decades. An image that is already grainy and hard to see would be child’s play to alter. Maybe even to create from scratch. Tagging GPS coordinates are a simple alteration inside of photoshop too. Fakes, upon fakes, upon fakes.

In 2019, the US military warned about the possibility of fake geographical information being perpetuated across the internet. It then actually came true to the embarrassment of the Chinese government. Satellite “evidence” was used to report detention camps hidden away in the countries. The “camps” turned out to be re-education facilities for China’s mentally deviant populace. However, that’s another rabbit hole to run down. The point here is that the images that were released in 2015 showed absolutely no facility and then pictures in 2018 showed a massive facility.

An assistant professor, Bo Zhao, with the University of Washington decided to illustrate this again with a study. His opinion was “the first step to tackling these issues is to make people aware there’s a problem in the first place”. He and his colleagues published a paper on “deep fake geography”. They conducted experiments in generating and detecting imagery for suburban homes, which clearly demonstrated the affect of this technology on our economy. They were able to easily convert the shape and layout of a neighborhood in their images.

From this work we have a few new terms to be aware of. Threats of “paper towns” and “trap streets” are two of the new resounding terms. These new ideas can lead to a modicum of potential issues. The team actually created a software that has the ability to create these fake images. They did the work themselves, leading one to believe that the basic knowledge is there for anyone with a little know-how.

The moral of the story is, don’t trust anything from the internet. It’s all an opinion coming from some other flawed human being, and you don’t ever really know why people are putting that information out there. Always know and check your sources.

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