Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Beware Marketers Bearing Neuroscience.

I like to learn about new things. It helps keep my brain active, it's interesting in and of itself and, most importantly, it gives me a better chance of knowing when other people are bluffing.

To that end, I have been trying to get my head around machine learning, support vector machines and "AI" for a number of years. I have done so not by reading presss articles but by meeting the practitioners and scratching the surface of practical courses. Consequently, I know how complicated and mathematically advanced it is and how ignorant I am. This stuff is hard. Really hard.

But today somebody, somewhere will mention AI or consciousness or neuromarketing to you and when they do, I'd like you to remember this guest post that I found on data scientist and activist Cathy O.Neill's blog a few years ago.  It's very sweary (as the best things often are) but if you're squeamish about that sort of thing, here's an extract that gets to the heart of the issue.

So, the next time you see a pretty 3D picture of many neurons being simulated, think “cargo cult brain”. That simulation isn’t gonna think any more than the cargo cult planes are gonna fly. The reason is the same in both cases: We have no clue about what principles allow the real machine to operate. We can only create pretty things that are superficially similar in the ways that we currently understand, which an enlightened being (who has some vague idea how the thing actually works) would just laugh at.



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