Artificial Intelligence: Lack of knowledge in marketing and PR is an ethical issue

The hype surrounding AI is unhelpful. Professional communicators must act ethically and improve their knowledge.

AI is being used as a marketing label to market and sell technology products and services. It’s the latest shiny new thing in technology since blockchain and cryptocurrency.

A report published last week by venture capitalist MMC Ventures found that two-fifths of Europe’s so-called AI start-ups don’t in fact use any AI in their products. It’s punchy analysis that should be a wake up call for professional communicators.

Marketing and PR practitioners have a responsibility to be ethical and fair in their communication with the public.

The mismatch identified by MMC may in part result from exaggerated claims but it’s equally likely to result from poor knowledge of AI on the part of professional communicators. I’d argue that lack of knowledge in a fast developing area of practice such as AI is an ethical issue.

A survey of 230 communicators from 25 countries, published last year by the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence, reported inconsistencies in knowledge of AI and confidence in communicating about AI on the part of professional communicators.

The Communicating Artificial Intelligence report split respondents into two groups: organisations communicating about AI (35%); and organisations not communicating about AI (65%).

The report suggested that active involvement in AI is a good way to build knowledge and experience. Two-fifths of practitioners in organisations communicating about AI reported using AI tools in their own work.

Knowledge translates directly into awareness. Almost all respondents communicating about AI acknowledged its impact on their own practice whereas the figure was 79% for those not communicating about AI.

Accuracy of machine decision making, ambiguity and disruption were cited as the main issues that practitioners have about AI in the workplace.

Knowledge was a critical issue spotlighted by the survey. It suggested that communicators could mediate challenges in learning about AI by taking small steps now to become familiar with AI. Blogs, industry meetings and professional development initiatives are all good sources for learning.

I caught up with the report’s author and Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence founder Adrian Cropley last week.

Adrian is currently working on the second edition of the survey and would welcome your input. I’d suggest it’s worth 15 minutes of your time to help characterise knowledge and skills in this critical area of marketing and PR practice.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

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