For the last five or so years, Qualcomm has bet big on bringing more artificial intelligence to smartphones, laptops, vehicles, smart infrastructure and other devices in the field—or what the company calls the “connected intelligent edge.”
It’s Don McGuire’s job to tell Qualcomm’s technology and artificial intelligence story in a way that’s not scary. Recently, that’s been harder to do.
Last fall’s launch of ChatGPT—a generative AI chatbot that answers prompts with polished essays, poetry, computer code and other human-like content—has thrust artificial intelligence into the public spotlight, with decidedly mixed reactions.
While there’s been plenty of positive hype, many people view the launch of ChatGPT—and AI overall —with a good amount of hand-wringing. They worry that these chatbots could upend everything from school work to jobs. CNBC reported that only 9 percent of Americans believe AI’s impact on society will do more good than harm, according to a recent poll by Monmouth University.
McGuire, chief marketing officer for Qualcomm, points to ways that AI is being used already to make things better behind the scenes. For mobile devices, artificial intelligence helps deliver the strongest available wireless connection; cancels background noise during Zoom or Teams calls; powers voice assistants; enables professional-grade photos and videos; personalizes seat, sound and dashboard settings in vehicles; among other things.
McGuire aims to humanize Qualcomm’s technology, including AI, as the company continues to diversify beyond smartphones. It recently launched a three-part ad campaign called The Edge of Possible. The first short film focuses on artificial intelligence and stars Best Actress Academy Award nominee Michelle Yeoh.
Yeoh has been on a roll lately. She was named Time magazine’s 2022 Icon of the Year. She won a Golden Globe in January. And she is up for an Oscar for her performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
“Her success is just amazing,” said McGuire. “It is well deserved and belated. She has been around for a long time, as we have. She has evolved and diversified, as we have.”
Teasers for the digital campaign have been placed on business media websites. such as CNBC.com. They direct people to the full video and more information.
McGuire, who joined Qualcomm in 2016 after spending more than five years at Intel, sat down with the Union-Tribune to discuss marketing strategy at San Diego’s largest publicly traded company, including its work with Manchester United, San Diego State University and esports outfit ESL Gaming. Here are some excerpts.
Q. How does Qualcomm fit into the artificial intelligence landscape?
A.There’s AI in the cloud, which is the data center. But there is also on-device intelligence, or what we call AI at the edge.
We are the leaders in on-device intelligence. Billions of devices around the world have artificial intelligence capabilities or machine learning capabilities within them because it sits on our Snapdragon platforms—both on the applications processor side and the modem side.
Q. Do you think AI is getting a bad reputation?
A. We don’t believe that on-device intelligence or AI in general needs to be scary. It obviously must be used for good, just like any technology. But it’s about creating an enhanced experience that makes it easier, faster or more seamless for you.
When you are taking pictures or doing task-oriented things, having intelligence that can be a part of that and learn over time makes those tasks quicker and easier.
And then for mission-critical type of decision making, you need that on-device intelligence to help—in the case of automotive—to understand there is a pedestrian in front of you or to understand that there is an accident ahead to understand the environment around you to help you take action to avoid a collision.
Like everything, it needs to be opt-in. It is about you still being in control. You need to say I want to have this enhanced experience. I am going to set my setting that way. As it learns and as it changes to the behaviors that I am exhibiting, I am OK with that.
I think one of the ways that AI can be viewed negatively is in the case of why is this listening to me? I didn’t give it permission to listen to me. That is the scary part, and there are examples of that happening. So it must be user choice. I am choosing to have a better experience by allowing this to happen so when I open the door of my car and everything configures to me, I am not surprised by that.
Q. How are you delivering your message?
A. We have taken an approach to humanizing technology, and I think others have, too. I don’t want to call it a trend, but I think it is an effort that needs to continue.
We have gone from being about speeds and feeds and tech specs to being experience-driven to educate on technology and make it less scary and more human.
Humanizing AI is a very important initiative and that is what our Edge of Possible campaign, Chapter One, is about. It is about showcasing our leadership in on-device intelligence and how that can help your business but in a very human way.
We are working with Michelle Yeoh on that campaign, and we are very pleased with how that has come out.
Q. How did you end up working with her?
A.When we were developing the campaign and said look, the way to humanize this is with a human …. The agency that won the request for proposals to build the campaign bought us a list of “potential humans.” And when they got to Michelle, we all looked at each other in the room and said, she’s it. She is tech-forward. She is modern but she has a ton of experience and knowledge and huge amounts of credibility. We have a three-year agreement with Michelle.
There is this recipe for what we call the connected intelligence edge. There is intelligence at the edge or AI. There is ubiquitous connectivity, so that is wireless, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, all of the connectivity technologies including 5G and eventually 6G. Then there is low-power, high-performance compute, whether that is on-device or spatial. Those are the three things that drive success at the connected intelligent edge.
It started with AI. Then we will have Chapter Two around either the compute side of the connectivity side. Then we will move to Chapter Three and bring it all together.
Q. Can you talk about Manchester United?
A. We choose our partners very carefully. There has to be a technology integration opportunity with that partner where we can also help them with their digital transformation.
Manchester United is the largest sports franchise in the world, across any sport. There are 1.1 billion fans worldwide. A lot of their fans are very tech-forward and use lots of devices that are powered by Snapdragon. They may not know it. So, there’s lots of opportunity for us to grow the Snapdragon brand from an awareness perspective by hitching our wagon to the Manchester United wagon.
What Manchester United gets is a partner that can help them redefine the digital footprint at Old Trafford, which they are going to rebuild. It is iconic. It survived bombings in the war. There is a real affinity and love for Old Trafford. So, they are being careful how they do this. But let’s just say it is not a connectivity-friendly place. We are helping them with that.
Then there is their training facility. It is more rural. It needs better connectivity. They want to build better fan experiences around the world. They want help upgrading and updating their apps. We are involved with them, helping them with their digital transformation for their franchise and their fans.
Our foundations are also talking to each other—the Qualcomm Foundation and the Manchester United Foundation. It is a very well-rounded two-way partnership.
I don’t have the budget to go slap our logo on something. To me that is waste. It has to be meaningful.
Q. Same with San Diego State?
A. Working with San Diego State, Legends and JMI on the naming rights deal with Snapdragon Stadium—again it is not just about throwing our name on that stadium, which is a state-of-the-art venue. It’s about making sure the experience in the stadium from a connectivity perspective is first class, and then expanding our relationship with San Diego State in helping them become the most innovative and connected campus in the United States.
2023 The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Worried about ChatGPT and artificial intelligence? How Qualcomm is trying to humanize tech (2023, February 22)
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