WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Traditional marketing, where marketers create and distribute content, is being automated by AI.
This is the future of marketing – automated, viral, and intelligent. Niantic, the company behind Pokemon Go, have announced that they’re going to be using a “thought provoking campaign” that “uses AI to market and relaunch” their Augmented Reality (AR) game “Ingress” as “Ingress Prime.” In other words their Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents are going to go and produce their own marketing material and propaganda, post it online and on social media, and recruit players. And as we see AI create more content and more adverts, like the one for Lexus, it’s increasingly looking like in time these increasingly sophisticated “propaganda” AI’s will replace marketing teams.
In Ingress Prime, one of the first actions a player takes is to choose a side. Rather than sticking with the traditional good guy bad guy dichotomy, the game instead asks players to align themselves philosophical worldview, choosing to join the Enlightened or the Resistance, and here’s how it works.
Ingress Prime players who choose to visit the AI section of the ingress site will be able to train one of two AI agents, either ADA or JARVIS, each of whom represent the player’s chosen faction and whose sole mission is to recruit more players from the outside world. While this isn’t a required aspect of the game, it’s a bonus for committed players, as well as a provocative way of connecting the game’s story – of two factions vying for power using their own mysterious technology – with the real world.
Then, in something not too distant from the autonomous bots that are pushing out fake news and messing with people’s head on Facebook and Twitter ADA and JARVIS will then create their own marketing material and propaganda in order to push their own agenda and recruit new players.
They’ll also learn from regular interactions with players on the site with each one building an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of techniques as time goes on – from memes, to posters, to videos, all of which they’ll post on line in order to recruit new players.
They’ll also start to take on their own unique personalities too. Teach ADA to be angry, and her recruiting posters will take on an aggressive tone, teach Jarvis to be nice, and he’ll try to catch flies with honey, and other odd things… And as these AI’s personalities evolve Niantic say that the players in the game will “be able to watch them as they grow into something resembling sentience.” And if that sounds a little creepy, that’s the point.
In creating ADA and JARVIS and allowing players teach them to mimic human behaviour Niantic are intentionally tapping into today’s social landscape – one where we’re constantly interacting with increasingly sophisticated AI’s and algorithms trying to sell us something, political propagandists of dubious origin, and “AI spies” who know us better than our own mothers.
So are ADA and JARVIS just super sophisticated AI marketing tools, or are they something more sinister? Ingress Prime’s designers hope that by asking these questions, they’ll encourage people to begin to question the nature of the world around them – and then sign up to play the game.
Blurring the line between science fiction and reality is nothing new for Ingress. Since its initial 2013 launch, players in the location based, augmented reality game have explored the real world while participating in an ongoing, open ended fictional narrative unfolding all around them. Now, with the Ingress Prime relaunch, the game has been retooled with a rebooted story, but the real question is – will their autonomous AI agents be able to recruit you and convince you to play their game? Let the battle commence.