From Magic to Morals: Ethical Considerations for AI in Communications

According to Muck Rack’s recent State of AI in PR report, a whopping 61% of communications pros are already riding the AI wave or gearing up to join the party. It’s clear we see the potential, and engagement with AI tools will undoubtably increase as we uncover and embrace the inevitable advancements to come. However, let’s not forget our obligations to our clients, agencies and ourselves as communications professionals.  Just this week more than 350 AI experts including some of the inventors of the technology signed an open letter warning of the societal dangers of AI if left unregulated.  As we dive into the world of AI, it’s crucial that we steer our course responsibly and keep ethics top of mind.

Locking the Vaults: Protecting Privacy and Data Security

Communications professionals deal with lots of confidential information—contractual agreements, corporate change, pre-launch information, report data. Our trade often requires secrecy as plans are made and campaigns are built. But with great AI power comes great responsibility. While AI tools may technically be able to review legal language or whip up content in the blink of an eye, we must remain vigilant to protect our clients’ and our own sensitive information. Many generative AI tools use information submitted as part of the tool’s expanding data repository, meaning that information you add to the database could be shared with others.

As we dive deeper into AI, be sure to select tools that follow strict privacy protocols, guard sensitive data from prying eyes, and ensure information remains as secure as Fort Knox.

Truth Be Told: Verifying Accuracy and Authenticity

Using AI is like having a magician in the communications toolkit, conjuring up content that mirrors human creativity, instantly. But we can’t let this excitement carry us away. We must wield our verification powers wisely—double-checking, fact-checking, and deploying human oversight to prevent the use and spread of misinformation. AI tools are known to “hallucinate,” meaning that they can combine data and information together to present “facts” that may not actually be true. AI is only as good as the data fed into it, and not all that data is accurate. Authenticity is our guiding star, preserving the integrity of our efforts and safeguarding against reputational risks.

Inclusivity: Bias Mitigation and Fairness

AI-algorithms rely on data from millions of sources, and they can inherit biases hidden in the depths of their training data. As communications pros, it’s our responsibility to champion inclusivity. We must proactively identify and mitigate bias when using content from generative AI. Think of it as conducting a fairness orchestra, regularly evaluating our AI tools, diversifying the training data, and embracing varied human perspectives. Let’s ensure that the content we generate is unbiased and promotes a world where everyone has a voice.

Continuous Monitoring and Adaptation: Using our Ethical Radar

The AI world is a whirlwind of constant evolution, and our ethical considerations must keep pace. As AI gains steam, it will be important to monitor the impact and response to each iteration of generative AI, adapting our ethical guidelines accordingly. By staying plugged into AI in communications best practices and engaging in enthusiastic ethical discussions, we can establish ethical frameworks for the industry to follow.

Ethical Boundaries and Responsibility: Guiding the AI Symphony

Ultimately, it will be up to us—as communications professionals—to define the opportunities and the boundaries of AI technology. Let’s be the gatekeepers, determining appropriate use cases for generative AI in communications and shying away from instances where AI might manipulate or deceive our audiences. Respect for cultural, social and legal norms will become our secret weapon as we deploy AI-driven communication strategies. We must take responsibility for the actions and possible consequences of AI, providing recourse mechanisms and addressing any unintended negative impacts.

AI is a force to be reckoned with, but let’s not forget our moral compass in the midst of the excitement. By prioritizing transparency, safeguarding privacy, ensuring accuracy and authenticity, mitigating bias, establishing ethical boundaries and remaining vigilant in our monitoring and adaptation, we can ride the AI wave while upholding the highest ethical standards. We can embrace AI with open arms, guide it toward innovation, trust, credibility and unwavering integrity, and help shape the convergence of AI in communications, rather than let it shape the future of our profession.

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