The Age of Artificial Intelligence in Retail: Customer Privacy and Other Ethical Dilemmas

Artificial Intelligence is set to change every aspect of the retail industry – from real-time analysis of shopper emotions to the automation of customer service. Artificial intelligence also holds huge potential for luxury brands, to support everything from brand story-telling to creating retail stores of the future. But what about the less talked about issues with AI? Privacy and ethics.

You only have to look at Amazon’s Alexa, the voice controlled speaker that can do everything from telling you the weather to booking you an Uber. Then there’s Amazon’s most recent announcement – the Amazon Echo Look product- which will be a device with a camera inside so that it picks up on both sight and sound. It’s been billed by Amazon as a key way to offer consumers outfit advice through the camera ( and is a savvy way to promote their Amazon fashion offering). But is having an ‘always on’ device in your home, that can see and hear everything – an invasion of privacy? With all this emerging technology, how do we respect customer privacy? How can retailers innovate without scaring away consumers?

In addition to privacy concerns there’s also the ethical dilemmas of this AI world. Will AI lead to a diminished job market?

This month at WGSN we’ll be looking at these ideas in depth at our WGSN Futures Summit in London through our AI focused panel discussion. As Senior Editor of Retail Insight at WGSN, I’m infinitely fascinated with developments around AI, and I see first hand how much it currently affects and will continue to impact the retail industry.

This panel will bring together technology providers with retailers to not only profile some of the most promising technology on the horizon, but dig into the ethical dilemmas that will accompany the mass rise of AI. One thing is for sure, it’s happening sooner than we think.

Meet the expert panelists below and save the date – May 25th 2017, sign up here.


Danny Bagge, IBM Watson

Danny leads the IBM UKI Retail business with over 20 years experience, working with clients to achieve their omni channel and digital strategies. Danny has worked across all types of retail and helped deliver leading ecommerce, mobile and social solutions for some of our best known retailers.




Kaustav Bhattacharya, Executive Technology Director, R/GA London

Kaustav is a D&AD awarded and commercially minded, creative technologist with extensive experience in developing solution architectures, working in the digital agency environment as well as on client-side engagements within the digital media, web & mobile industry, working on the development of SaaS products, delivery of eCommerce projects and original product development initiatives. Kaustav continues to keep abreast of the latest developments in The Internet of Things, Wearable Technology and Mobile technology as well as contemporary DevOp techniques such as application lifecycle management and automation methodologies.


Bo Helberg, expert on  machine learning and AI
Bo Helberg joined Edelman in 2015 and built a multidisciplinary team of 70 people (creatives, coders, writers, directors producers, etc) to help drive creative change in one of the largest global PR groups. In practical terms that meant; developing a strategic purpose for Heineken, launching Will.i.am’s ANEEDA, Will Smith’s water brand, ‘Just Water’, partnering with Jamie Oliver to make the food at Shell stations healthier and tastier. Before that, he worked at agencies like Modem Media and Lost Boys, later Digitas and LBi. He was also part of large network agencies such as Ogilvy and DDB before becoming ECD at Edelman.





Save the Date: 25th May 2017. Sign up for WGSN FUTURES here.


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