Spikes 2016 once again offered a variety of presentations during the show for the audience of advertising and marketing executives. Ideas were offered on how to increase creativity, use music to add zing to a commercial, and how passion is a vital ingredient to our work.

But nobody offered a presentation on how to sell your brand to a bloody computer! If the presentation by Chris Stephenson, Regional Head of Strategy and Planning at PHD, predicts correctly, this may be your biggest headache in 2026.

Anathea Ruys, Head of Fuse, Omnicom Media Group and Alan Bacchelli, Head of Production, Pixelcase had 30 minutes earlier shown delegates VR in action at the retail level and suggested “the future is now”. On the first day of Spikes, C2K Communications’ ECD Rod Findley revealed the fast progress in the technology that creates virtual reality and augmented reality platforms.

Remember when we smiled as the character in the movie ‘Total Recall’, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, had his holiday experience by simply sitting in a chair wearing headset. Later he used a robot-guided taxi to escape. This movie appeared in 1990. Then twelve years later, in ‘Minority Report’ (the movie version) outdoor advertising sites were seen responding personally as our hero, Tom Cruise, runs past.

Cars that can automatically drive themselves are about to appear on Singapore roads. Driverless cars are being developed by Google, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Bosch amongst others. Already holiday firms are offering customers the opportunity to experience a taste of their future holiday destination using VR headsets. Some outdoor advertising sites are already reacting to people when close by.

The Internet of Things, linking our home appliances and mobile digital devices, already connects the lives of tech savvy consumers. We have become familiar with Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now and Microsoft Cortana as intelligent personal assistants. In his presentation on the impact of artificial intelligence (A1), Stephenson of PHD took us a step further and offer a glimpse of what is to come – not in the distant future but in the next ten years. This writer didn’t know whether to be scared shxxless or become excited over the prospect! Here’s how it unfolds.

Our Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) will start of as being very helpful, rebooking on our behalf flights and hotels when there is a delay in a meeting. Our VPA will then start to re-order the products or brands as we run out and arrange delivery. Later, without the need to consult us, the VPA can choose those items based on an intimate knowledge of our likes or health requirements, making an intelligent decision, one can presume, even where those interests clash. Factories and office administrations will be run by AI controllers similar to our VPA’s. Humans will spend their lives being entertained, perhaps not even leaving their armchair to experience a holiday.

This is not something for our grandchildren to face. It’s just ten years away according to PHD.

Somewhere in the new world, advertisers and marketers have to find their niché. How do you communicate with a computer which is selecting and buying the food for the human household under its care? Will your agency need AI CD’s instead of people like Graham Fink or Yang Yeo to create the ads? Will the ads be packets of data instead of print and video productions? Will the world need advertising at all?

Sleep well my friends, if you can. You are about to wake to a totally new world.