The bulk of our impressions of artificial intelligence are based on how it's portrayed in movies. From Blade Runner to The Terminator to Ex Machina to Avengers: Age of Ultron, it's clear the only inevitable path to the impending robot apocalypse will be dark, brooding, and disastrous. Right? Maybe. But IBM has a different take, one that's more Small Wonder than sinister.
The brand is using the Academy Awards as an excuse to serve up a counterpoint to all that Hollywood AI action, to illustrate how Watson's version of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing is working with humans on some of the world's most challenging business and societal issues. The spots, by agency Ogilvy & Mather, star Blade Runner and Alien director Ridley Scott and Star Wars' iconic Carrie Fisher chatting with Watson in different ways. Scott discusses the power of images, while Fisher leads a support group for evil robots.
Stephen Gold, CMO of IBM's Watson Group says the biggest challenge in marketing AI is breaking through the negative impression of it fueled by Hollywood. "Sometimes those portrayals are scary, sometimes they're fun, but more often than not it's entertainment rooted in fantasy," says Gold. "Humor is a great way to connect with a much broader audience and engage on a personal level to demystify the technology. The reality is that these technologies are being used in our daily lives to help people, for instance a doctor improving how she cares for a patient."
Maybe robots will one day take over the world, but for now we can all relax and just enjoy watching Princess—sorry, General—Leia tend to the emotional needs and insecurities of a bunch of Jawa auction rejects.