Last week, Vuelio and Lansons co-hosted an AI in PR event as part of the CIPR Ethics Festival. Sessions were led by a broad cross-section of industry leaders, who discussed chatbots, automating comms channels and the latest AI technology. Appropriately, though, it was ethics that was the dominant theme throughout every session, as it is ethics that sets humans and machines apart.
Paul Miller, head of digital at Vuelio, used his sessions to ask, ‘How much of PR and comms will be replaced by AI’? One answer, unsurprisingly, lies in ethics.
There are many areas of PR and comms that could benefit from AI – from content creation and content distribution to engagement and automating processes – and there’s little doubt that the AI revolution will change the way everyone works.
Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, has described the potential disruption of the so-called ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (the rise of the machines) as being on a ‘much greater scale’ than anything experienced during the Industrial Revolution, which lasted some 200 years. Tabitha Goldstaub, founder of CognitiveX and the chair of the Government’s newly formed Artificial Intelligence Council, echoes Haldane, warning there is a ‘huge risk’ of people being left behind as computers and robots change the world of work.
Both have warned of social tension and greater inequality, so we’re all doomed, right? Well, maybe not.
The argument that computers are going to bring extreme unemployment in coming decades has been made before in the 1950s and 60s, and again in the 1990s. Despite years of rapid advances in robotics, computer power, network connectivity and artificial intelligence techniques, there isn’t mass unemployment in society – in fact, the unemployment rate is lower than it was 40 years ago, and we certainly have a larger population. So, machines may take or change our jobs, but they also create new jobs and the market evolves.
Possibly of greater concern is the impact of automation on the structure of jobs themselves. Human beings and computers are going to be working together, more closely than ever, and we need to get the division of labour right.
The CIPR’s #AIinPR Panel has already identified irreplaceable work in categories such as creativity, professionalism and, perhaps most importantly, ethics.
Computers can’t do what human beings do naturally – they can’t turn information into knowledge or think creatively, conceptually or ethically. More than ever, in this world of FAKE NEWS, Cambridge Analytica and hacked democracies, we’ve seen that tech can be used for evil or for good, but that the tech itself is amoral. It needs strong moral guidance, from us.
AI, therefore, presents a huge opportunity for PR professionals, as the masters of reputation and communication, to play a leading role in the future of all industries and markets. AI needs a strong moral guide – AI needs PR.
If you’re ready to benefit from AI and use machine learning to make the industry a better place, you’re ready for Vuelio.