There’s no other business with more false promises and misconceptions per square meter than the AI industry. Just think about the Skynet-type prophecies to exaggeratedly optimistic forecasts. “Artificial Intelligence is Already Impacting the Event Industry” is one of them. Multiple apps and event management software packages are offering “AI chatbots,” “AI matchmaking” (whatever that means), “AI concierge service,” etc. Suddenly, using AI for event planning has become the thing to do, and nobody has even bothered to question it.
Could AI be nothing more than just a clever marketing move?
Put the word AI next to the words event app, event management software, and matchmaking and all of these things immediately sound more attractive. Wouldn’t you purchase an event app or event chatbot powered by an AI system? Of course you would. Who cares about the extra money you’ll have to pay for it? After all, AI for event planning sounds cool and innovative. Plus, you want to be one step ahead of your competition.
Another possible script is that we introduce the idea of AI for event planning because we actually don’t understand what this truly means. In case you’re wondering, there’s an underlying difference between AI and machine learning, AI and deep learning, or AI and chatbots.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
As William Vorhies, president and chief data scientist at Data-Magnum, highlights, “Read several articles about AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning and you will come away confused whether these are all the same or all different.” Vorhies explains, “The truth is that each of these terms has some overlap in a Venn diagram, but none of these is a perfect subset of the other.”
According to Machine Design, there are two types of Artificial Intelligence: weak AI and strong AI. Weak AI is “supervised programming, which means there is a programmed output, or action for given inputs.” Strong AI, conversely, is a system that “could do something it wasn’t programmed to if it notices a pattern and determines a more efficient way of accomplishing the goal it was given.”
In other words, strong AI (the one that actually terrifies Elon Musk) is a machine that has the ability to think, reason, and decide on its own. Weak AI, on the other hand, depends on machine learning, an AI sub-field. According to Nvidia, machine learning “is the practice of using algorithms to parse data, learn from it, and then make a determination or prediction about something in the world.” Machines are “trained” to use huge amounts of data and algorithms to perform different tasks.
What about AI for event planning?
Let’s take the event chatbots, for example (which are presented as an AI wonder). While these virtual assistants certainly act “smart,” don’t rush into thinking that you are dealing with AI. These bots didn’t pass the Turing Test, a way to determine whether a computer is capable of thinking like a human.
As James Vincent argues in an article for The Verge, “Chatbots were supposed to be a big part of our AI-powered future, but they’ve mostly fallen flat. Scratch the surface of any online bot selling you takeout or flights abroad, and you’ll usually find drop-down menus repackaged as questions.” Vincent emphasized that we will only be able to label chatbots as AI when researchers add new cognitive skills, such as memory and reasoning.
There’s even a chatbot.fail webpage, which highlights “the vast majority of chatbots aren't actually intelligent. They are built based on a decision-tree logic, where the response given by the bot depends on specific keywords identified in the user's input.”
AI for event planning sounds bold and attractive. However, its constituents aren’t clear yet. We can talk all day long about chatbots, algorithms and predictions, or face and voice recognition. But this doesn't mean that we actually understand whether it is a manifestation of artificial intelligence or not.
Many entrepreneurs use the term “AI” to sound impressive, without offering something concrete or valuable to event professionals. In the next few years, we’ll most likely witness a boom of both weak no and strong AI mechanisms. This will definitely revolutionize the event industry. However, until then, don’t fall immediately for labels such as AI for event planning. This term is an “old hat” that marketers successfully assign to things and new products that aren’t necessarily intelligent.