I first read about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the mid-nineties in my final year instrumentation engineering class. It has probably followed me, even though I pursued an MBA after Engineering and worked across functions viz. sales and marketing, strategy, branding and finally chose organisational communications as my occupation! Today from Alexa to Google maps, and many more applications, impacting every function of an organisational, I never imagined that AI would be so omnipresent! I shouldn’t have been yawning in that class then, I realise!
AI is no longer just a ‘Shiny new object’ that’s been hogging everyone’s attention, lately. We are witnessing a huge trend of ‘cognification’ and I feel AI will certainly permeate every external aspect of our lives.
Someone asked me a few months back, “Yeh AI hai kya” (What is this AI) and what impact can it have on PR jobs. The person in context, a budding PR professional with high calibre showed an article that talked about 25% redundancy in organisational positions by 2025 because of AI. Let me share my take on both these facets.
Well, as I understand, AI is an assortment of technologies, algorithms and tools that aspire to make machines smart! To make them as smart as humans, AI entails use of data, detailed algorithms, processing technologies and it apparently learns from the patterns in the data that’s available or rather data that is fed to it by humans.
Impact on PR could be huge, mostly positive or I would say, the way you adapt and look at it. Just imagine, a world where, machines get the competency of understanding audience sentiment in real time basis the immense data floating around and are able to also create bespoke messages and reach them to audience segments through sharp targeting, without human mediation!
AI may sound sinister but I do believe it has the power to take smart decisions that are based on data, conversations and insights.
Organisations have experienced that enabling AI at their enterprise level has increased their operational efficiencies, are making more data driven decisions and innovating more and more. Artificial intelligence will certainly be more productive than human workers in case of repetitive programmable tasks. However, humans will always outperform machines in jobs requiring empathy, relationships and imagination. And these are basic tenets of PR and communications! So we are one up!
Coming to the fear of job losses across the industry due to AI, there are multiple reports claiming different time frames and percentages. These are vague estimates and statements and I would rather think about how I can use AI to my organisations benefit. Change is constant. E.g., with computers coming in, the professional typists (Typewriter operators) went out of job. Those who enhanced their competencies survived. So it’s all about being up to date on skills and using technology to our own benefit. AI in PR, I feel is an enabler. So any professional should be happy to have these technologies to help him/her perform better.
I firmly believe that AI will not define us but in fact, we have the opportunity to define it in a way that it is beneficial and adds value. AI in itself is not good or bad. It is the manifestation of the user, just like the internet – can be used both for fake news and for authentic narratives! AI’s true value is in augmenting the human experience.
I think AI should be seen more positively in terms of having better decision making opportunities and use of data. End of the day human intelligence, emotions, and bond cannot be replaced with machines. Communications is all about empathy, collaboration and humans are supposed to be best at that.
So on the one hand, organisations would benefit in terms of productivity rise, profitability etc., the threat is that repetitive jobs that can be programmed would possibly be redundant. I am very bullish that if implemented well, impact of AI on PR and corporate communications would be good! It will bring some sanity to data mining which will lead to a new level of trust on the insights. The ability to predict trends, public sentiments can help launch products at appropriate timing, it can help proactively mitigate crisis situations. Come to think of it, sky is the limit!
I feel, as members of the communications clan in India, we must initiate to learn and adapt thee technologies and put them to best use, using our human intelligence. After all, Actual intelligence is always better than Artificial intelligence! Such is life dearies!!
With that spirit, in the part 2 of this topic, I shall try and share my imagination of how AI could help the PR and Communications professionals.