“It doesn’t matter how much we summarize, at some point, effort is required. More summaries won’t automatically lead to more understanding.”Wise words as ever from Seth Godin on the temptation to use modern technologies like generative #AI to improve efficiencies and save work.
Godin was discussing Cliffs Notes, a series of study guides, intended to provide high school students with insight, examples, and answers about the books that they are assigned to read. Although these guides provide shortcuts to insights and knowledge, they don’t result in students gaining better comprehension, critical thinking skills, or an ability to generate original ideas.
At CARMA, we’re constantly looking at ways to improve our clients’ experience of #mediaintelligence and #comms evaluation services and to keep them relevant and appropriate. The similarities and temptations to which Godin refers are striking for the use of generative AI technologies for both the media intelligence sector but also the wider #PR industry too.
Efficiencies yes, but who benefits?
It’s easy to fall into an efficiency only mindset. Both comms professionals and media intelligence companies can make massive time gains using generative AI. The whole content and media lifecycle can be covered. From a PR and comms perspective we can use AI to seed ideas, write and improve content, select and target relevant outlets and influencers, and then distribute it. The media can use AI to identify stories of interest, select content, then enhance and publish. We’re already seeing broadcasters taking this further and using AI generated newscasters to present it. Media monitoring and intelligence companies can then use AI to source content from wherever it’s been covered, check it for relevance, summarise and code it against client briefs, create the data, analyse and evaluate it and ultimately write client reports. These too can be presented back to the client if desired via AI generated video assistants.
It all sounds so exciting doesn’t it. But is it? Will this new world order result in our best and most appropriate work? Or are all the benefits being used just to cut costs for the provider but without benefit to the end users?
Don’t forget the humans
How far are we from a dystopian future where the human is all but forgotten in the comms lifecycle? A future where massive volumes of AI generated content are distributed by AI tools to AI enabled publishers which are then monitored and analysed by AI enabled media intelligence companies? And in that brave new world, will we still remember and focus on the humans that really matter – the respective stakeholders and audiences with which we’re trying to communicate?
Evaluation Risks could escalate
As the AI-generated content tsunami starts to submerge us, is there a risk that we will default back to the vanity metrics of the ‘counts and amounts’ of activity driven metrics? Will we forget how critical it is to demonstrate comms value by showing results against organisational objectives and how our work has influenced thoughts and behaviours?
Where are the experts?
Many say that AI is best used for the ‘heavy lifting’ of content creation and content evaluation and that the value-add will come from us – the human experts. These experts will check the findings, ensure the AI is not ‘hallucinating‘, and apply further context, relevance and critical thinking to improve the results. But here’s the challenge I see with this – where will we source these comms and media intelligence experts from in a future where manual and tactical jobs have mainly been replaced by AI? How do you become an expert when there are no apprenticeships or entry level roles anymore?
And there’s a further problem. Many say it’s the ‘human’ skills that the employees of the future need to focus on if they are to succeed in an AI-driven world. Human skills such as communication, leadership, emotional IQ, experience, contextual understanding etc. These are skills that humans learn from participation and interaction with each other. Just as the need for these skills becomes critical in the future workplace, we risk producing a future talent pool that is less able to provide them as a result of the pandemic, coupled with the insidious grip and addictions nurtured by our digital devices and the social media giants.
Many of the future employee talent pool are retreating daily further into their devices rather than learning and developing the interpersonal human skills that will be so needed.
Are we doing enough as businesses and as civil society to teach the future generation to focus more on these human skills just at the time that it matters most?
Interesting times ahead, that’s for sure.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.