First published on Werbewoche. 

Artificial intelligence is here to stay – but we are just getting started

On Wednesday, some 150 representatives from the most important Swiss agencies and advertisers in the Zurich Impact Hub received in-depth insights into the topic of artificial intelligence (AI). Speakers from various institutions, such as Adello, Alibaba, PHD, SBB or the Zurich City Police, showed how useful they are today from AI and what the future might look like.

During the lectures, the word ” magic” had fallen several times in the audience : AI is for many science fiction, but has almost conspicuously conquered different areas of life. The advertising industry is only just at the beginning, Adello Country Manager Sandor Laczko pointed out in his introduction. While the unicorns in Silicon Valley AI have become a guiding theme, Adello is the only Swiss company in its sector to rely on this technology. Machine learning was only possible thanks to increasing data volume and computing power. Laczko emphasized that, in addition to the algorithms, the ethical and security aspects were also to be kept in mind.

The fact that we are only in the beginning is confirmed by Oliver Schönfeld, Managing Director of PHD. In his lecture “Merge – The closing gap between technology and us”, he shows how human and artificial intelligence are increasingly merging. The climax will be achieved in the next 30 years, but acceleration will increase incrementally. “More than 50 percent of all European companies today have little or nothing to do with machine and deep learning.” It is particularly important in the marketing sector to use new technologies and to see AI as a brand building tool. «Who has the best algorithm wins».


Sandor Laczko (Country Manager, Adello), Oliver Schönfeld (Managing Director, PHD), Dominik Balogh (Chief Analyst and Development, City Police Zurich), Christof Zogg (Director Digital Business, SBB) and Dr. Ye Huang (Cloud Architect, Alibaba) (from left to right).


This approach is also followed by the city police in the fight against crime. Dominik Balogh, head of the analysis and development of the city police in Zurich, said dryly that the other side was still at an advantage with regard to AI. The city police use “Precobs” to recognize patterns of burglaries. On the basis of the data of previous offenses, the system calculates the areas and periods in which there is an increased risk of house burglaries, which are then prevented by increased police attention and checks. In the past four years, so-called near-repeat burglaries were reduced from 60% to 54%. Whether police officers were no longer needed, he said no. It is also often necessary for crime control to provide information that only a human brain can combine.

Christof Zogg is responsible for Digital Business, Marketing and Advertising at SBB, and is committed to transforming the SBB app – the Swiss platform with the most installs – as a “personal travel companion”. The app is designed to receive verbal commands, in all Swiss dialects. The price is the collection of a comprehensive data track into which the user must consent.

For the upcoming AI revolution, the Alibaba provides the right tools. Ye Huang, Cloud Architect of Alibaba, showed in his first lecture in Switzerland that the Chinese company known here as a trading platform is also the world’s leading public cloud provider. It enables enterprises to use a strong, ready-to-deploy infrastructure and use the energy to build intelligent applications for it. Last but not least, we also offer a solution for in-house DSP, SSP and DMP.

The following panel discussed the challenges and limitations of AI. While the public was concerned about the issue of privacy under the nails, the experts confirmed that transparency in the application of AI was a central prerequisite. “Earn the Trust,” Zogg said. According to Adello CEO Mark Forster, the ability to build a powerful infrastructure and then use the relevant data would be central. Most companies today are not yet able to scale to a sufficient extent. And AI is first of all a tool that should be used for many applications and continue to evolve – no one knows today where we would be in a few years. But what is clear are good ideas – and data scientists.

Read more on Merge in Adello’s summary of the book here.