AI revolution meets marketing returns: Aiko, Aiden world's first AI interns

The goal of Codeword's purported experiment in human-AI collaboration is to gain more insight into the application of AI in the creative sector.
Baba Tamim
Codeword's AI-interns: Aiko (left) and Aiden (right).
Codeword's AI-interns: Aiko (left) and Aiden (right).

Interesting Engineering/Codeword 

Humans "will be challenged even more to perform better if artificial intelligence (AI) is successful."

This is what an aerospace industry intern told Interesting Engineering (IE) while reacting to the recent news of AI interns being hired by a remote marketing firm in the United States. 

"The human interns who are not performing well will face a serious threat to their future," said Can Unen, a student trainee at an aviation engineering company in Turkey. 

As AI continues on the path of being the new technological revolution, many companies are having a go at it, but some are taking it to the next crazy level.

Earlier last month, PR and digital marketing firm Codeword took a unique step toward the future of the workforce by adding two new interns to their team with a twist.

Unlike other employees, Aiko and Aiden are not real people but are creations of artificial intelligence that "work" as interns for Codeword. The two AI interns are the first of their kind in the agency industry.

The goal of Codeword's purported experiment in human-AI collaboration is to gain more insight into the application of AI in the creative sector.

"We decided to start experimenting with AI tools, to see what AI can do better than creative professionals, and what creative professionals can do better than AI," Kyle Monson, co-founder of Codeword, told IE.

Reasons behind the AI 'Experiment'

The age of marketing automation has seen strategists and analysts use AI tools in their daily workflow, and Codeword is taking this a step further.

The company works at the nexus of marketing, technology, and media and focuses on the use of new resources. 

Aiden and Aiko will integrate into Codeword's tech stack, which already consists of platforms driven by AI in order to concentrate more on creative output, claims the company.

"The next question is whether AI can augment creative work streams -- the kind of designing, writing, and ideation that creative companies do," said Monson, referring to the company's "experiment." 

Will it obstruct the work of humans, replace humans entirely, or excel in a particular creative area, leaving the rest to human workers? The company "will be exploring all those questions," added Monson. 

AI revolution meets marketing returns: Aiko, Aiden world's first AI interns
Human-AI collaboration.jpg

'Sandwich' workflow: Human-AI collaboration 

The workflow paradigm known as the "sandwich" serves as the foundation for Codeword's concept of AI-human integration.

Three steps make up this model: A human first has an inspired thought and prompts the AI. The human then selects an option from a selection that the AI has generated, modifies it, and adds any finishing touches they see fit. 

The model incorporates AI in step 2 and is comparable to the conventional agency creative process. 

The objective is to determine what Codeword can do with AI that they couldn't do without it and to investigate whether AI can speed up, reduce the cost, and improve their core creative job.

"I think there is still a need for human touch at the end, like in the sandwich workflow," says Unen. 

"It's inspirational and experimentally important from a scientific point of view as well, as the outputs from this trial will likely guide AI researchers."

Meanwhile, the AI interns have performed exceptionally well on projects that call for the analysis of substantial amounts of data or inputs, similar to the study of tone in written material, claims Monson.

When ghostwriting, the AI can replicate a human tone. When making mood boards for brands, it can draw from a wide range of visual sources, he further added.

However, Aiden and Aiko don't get the work "100% right or 100% done" and still need human supervision.

"They get us 70% of the way there, and then the human team can provide the final 30% -- cleaning up the work, making sure it's accurate," stated Monson.

Role of AI interns

Aiko will be part of the Codeword design team, working under Senior Art Director Emilio Ramos and handling design duties like image editing, concept sketch creation, and icon design. 

Aiden will become a member of the editorial staff and report to Senior Editor Terrence Doyle. He will conduct voice-and-tone analyses, analyze news stories, and perhaps even write internal material.

They will have monthly performance reviews, as do all interns, and if their internship is a success, they will have the option to move up to a full-time position, according to Codeword.  

Finding the interns' skills and abilities and developing them throughout the internship will be one of the team's main challenges, according to the company. 

It is also interesting to learn about the creation of these interns, who are, in essence, structures that sit on top of AI tools used by the company.

"We asked ChatGPT, 'What are common names that begin with AI?' and Aiden and Aiko were the first two," recalled Monson.

"Then we asked 'What does a young person named Aiko look like?' and that's how we got their faces."

There's been a lot of chatter about whether it was appropriate to give them names and faces, but it definitely makes the project more engaging and interesting, according to the marketing company. 

By using the tools to create "their own likeness and name," Codeword has tried to minimize potential bias, claimed the firm's co-founder. 

AI and the future of the creative sector 

The agency, its team, and its community will learn more about human-AI cooperation thanks to Codeword's innovative AI project. 

Aiko and Aiden will work as full-fledged members of the Codeword team, with the aim of identifying fresh approaches to incorporating AI into the creative process. 

AI revolution meets marketing returns: Aiko, Aiden world's first AI interns
Embracing AI in the workforce.jpg

The trial, says the firm, is a step closer to a time when AI and human creativity will coexist.

However, when IE asked about the "criteria for choosing the two AI interns," Monson gave a funny reply; Codeword "didn't give them a job interview." So, the AI interns began with a big advantage over human applicants.

"So far, it's been all positives," he said, speaking about the "experiment." 

"The team is energized and finding interesting ways to use them. Aiko designed our all-hands deck last week and did a beautiful job," he continued. 

Meanwhile, skeptical Unen is hopeful that AI will open new doors for creative people rather than close doors to human workers, as some fear. 

"People who have [a] better experience with AI can get major roles during the transformation, which is a big opportunity for them," he said. 

"I think ones with a creative mind and necessary skills will benefit from AI as they can interact and gain different perspectives from it."

Publicity stunt or embracing the reality 

Codeword's "goal," according to the co-founder's blog, is to be as open and honest about our procedures and lessons learned so that the firm and its clients can benefit directly from the program.

When questioned about the intentions of this endeavor, Monson replied: "Sure, let's say it's [a] 20% marketing stunt. We're a marketing agency! But the other 80% is the important part."  

"The issues we're tackling and the questions we're trying to answer with this experiment are very real." 

It has been argued that, for decades, Japanese roboticists have been at the forefront of realizing the dream of building companion robots for humans powered by AI.

The argument continues that, contrary to some Western institutions, which focused more on algorithms in the abstract, these Japanese institutions believed that AI innovation should be developed alongside—or rather, within—a real artificial body.

Although we are still determining if we are ready to fully embrace AI without fear, along with the potential job losses, Monson thinks AI will make headlines for years to come.

"AI-human relationship will be the biggest media and marketing story over the next decade," he said.  

Meanwhile, the Codeword blog asserts that Aiden and Aiko will not replace the human workforce at the firm, and their "intern wages" will be donated to Grace Hopper Celebration, the largest conference for women technologists in the world.

Nevertheless, the firm has not made the bots ready for media yet. 

"We don't make our interns available to the media until we hire them full-time." Monson smiled. 

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