Artificial Intelligence a blessing or curse to communicators?

27 February 2023

I was at a networking event recently, when I was in conversation with someone working in the sales department of a tech company. We had started talking about AI, when she casually dropped in ‘oh, I use ChatGPT all the time, it helps me write LinkedIn posts when I draw a blank.’ I was astounded. 

To me, the mainstream arrival of AI feels like that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the camera repeatedly cuts back to Lancelot (John Cleese) running towards the castle across a field and he never gets closer, until he is suddenly upon the gate. 

“Robots are taking our jobs!” 

It’s not a new idea, but now that AI seems to be threatening a swathe of white-collar workers, people seem to be more morally outraged. Technological advancements have been shaping and reshaping the workforce since time immemorial when monks were robbed of work with the arrival of the printing press. The same arguments were made then as are being made now: dependence on technology is a sign of laziness corrupting our moral fibre, and it will rob people of purpose.

As a copywriter, perhaps to my detriment, my knee-jerk reaction to people using AI to write for them was a descent into techno-panic, lamenting an imagined cardboard future of content. We’re prone to imagining a worst-case scenario. So, let’s take a moment to get past the natural fear of change and sift through the implications.

As a species, we are programmed to innovate. From flint spearheads to factories of robots, and now to AI. A tool is only as smart as its user, right? Public domain AIs are already being used to incredible degrees; writing code, HTML, roleplaying interview questions or used to prep for a meeting with senior stakeholders. But ultimately, we still need skilled and insightful people to create quality content.  

Content is as much about making those algorithms work for us and brand visibility as it is about the actual information. AI, like ChatGPT, can cut down writing time for blogs and social media posts considerably, with only an edit and gentle steer required on the part of the author. This gives tight marketing teams a boost in visibility without the extra work. 

There are pitfalls, however. AI generates content from the information it has been trained on, but it cannot interpret content or make any kind of judgements. We need to ask ourselves, ‘who are the humans on the other side of the AI?’ What are the limitations of their programming decisions? On the consumer side, human input is crucial to ensure information is accurate and relevant. In an age of misinformation, this responsibility cannot be taken lightly. Also, beware of the privacy risks as information fed into the AI from the user remains and will contribute to the primordial goo of human knowledge that the AI draws from for all users.

AI is here, and we’re witnessing a seismic cultural shift. Tom Scott, a famous YouTube educator, made this fantastic video about how he used AI to write code and wider musings about his discomfort with the AI epoch. We don’t know where we sit on the technology adoption curve, however, it seems we have reached critical mass as indicated by the rapid uptake and daily use of ChatGPT.

As internal communicators, this could be a godsend. We can perhaps utilise AI when composing clear and direct communications, giving us more space for high-level and strategic thinking. Human intervention is still essential, but inevitably our practices will adapt and streamline following the technology available.

Written by Millie Watson, Content Specialist.

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