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AI writes 20,000 lines of ad copy a second - but inventors say humans won't be replaced

Alibaba artificial intelligence also claimed to have passed the Turing test

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Chinese retail giant Alibaba claims to have created an artificial intelligence capable of beating the Turing test - and writing 20,000 lines of advertisement copy in a single second.

Using deep learning and natural language processing technology, the system has been taught to produce copy by being shown millions of examples of human-written descriptions of products sold online.

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Produced by Alimama, a marketing division of Alibaba, the AI is currently being offered to vendors on Tmall and Taobao, Alibaba's e-commerce platforms, as a speedy alternative to writing their own copy. When listing an item for sale, vendors can click a button marked 'Produce Smart Copy' and instantly see multiple copy ideas.

Although Alibaba has not provided any proof of its AI passing the Turing test, this is a sizeable claim. Developed by computer scientist Alan Turing in 1950, the test it designed to determine computer communication from that of a human.

A computer is only deemed to have passed the test if it is mistaken for a human more than 30 percent of the time during a short keyboard conversation. The rarified club of software to have passed the test include the Eugene Goostman program, which in 2014 convinced judges that it was a 13-year-old boy.

It could be argued that Google Duplex also passes the test, as it has been shown to book appointments and place restaurant reservations over the phone, seemingly without the other person noticing it isn't human.

AI developers claim human creativity remains a 'cornerstone' to learn fromiStock

A report by Alizila, the online news outlet of Alibaba, said the AI "has passed the Turing test and is capable of producing 20,000 lines of copy in a second...brands using the new tool, such as fashion chain Esprit and Texas-born clothing brand Dickies, can adjust the length and tone of their copy, such as dictating whether they want the tone to be promotional, functional, fun, poetic or heartwarming."

The idea of a computer producing 20,000 lines of 'fun' or 'heartwarming' ad copy is surely enough to make Don Draper choke on his whiskey, but Alibaba claims the AI will not mean less work for skilled copywriters.

"All the content produced by the AI Copywriter is the result of applying deep learning models, trained with large volumes of quality created by humans. Human creativity is the cornerstone for the machine, which isn't able to replace the creativity of people," said Christina Lu, general manager for Alimama marketing. "AI for marketing...allows people to devote more energy to richly creative work," Lu added.

Alizila claims the AI tool is used nearly a million times every day by merchants and marketers on Alibaba-owned Taobao, Tmall, fashion flash-sale site Mei.com, and Chinese wholesale buying site 1688.com.

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