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Is AI the Devil you DON’T know?

Andrew Libra | 05 May, 2023 | Return|

AI is developing

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evolving at an exponential rate. Its increased presence nationally and globally is something that none of us in business can ignore, nor indeed should the public.

In fact, as BBC News reports and as tech industry leaders, experts and regulators have realised, there is a real danger of AI development spiralling out of control. 

Geoffrey Hinton, who recently resigned from Google as its leading AI expert, said that AI chatbots could soon overtake the level of information that a human brain holds. "Right now, they're not more intelligent than us, as far as I can tell. But I think they soon may be."

So currently AI is definitely not “the devil you know,” because its development is continually reaching into new and unknown areas. But need it be defined as a devil at all? Why be so negative?

The BBC story leads on the investigation into AI being set up by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ensuring that no single company should achieve market dominance in this field. As the BBC’s Business Reporter explains:

“The investigation by the competition watchdog will look at the software behind chatbots like ChatGPT. The industry is facing scrutiny over the pace at which it is developing technology to mimic human behaviour.

“AI's rapid take-up has sparked fears of job losses, privacy and the potential to circulate misleading information.”

However Sarah Cardell, the CMA’s Chief Executive, struck a more positive note, saying that software such as that driving ChatGPT could "transform the way businesses compete as well as drive substantial economic growth".

Marketing and Communications

As digital marketing is a core service of BBI Brandboost, we have studied the effect that AI will have on both ourselves and our clients. Will it dehumanise the structure and content of multi-channel campaigns and the decision-making that launches and monitors them?

If a post by BBC’s Faisal Islam is to be believed, the outlook for those employed by marketing agencies or the in-house marketing departments is not particularly encouraging. 

“The real shock has been that these technologies are usable in a commercial context, not just for "low-cognitive, repetitive" - i.e. robotic - tasks, long thought susceptible to automation.

“The surprise has been how deployable these technology [oops!] is to highly creative, high-value work, which had been assumed to be relatively protected from competition.”

However, the elementary grammatical error doesn’t detract from the seriousness of the issue. Will the advance of AI adversely affect jobs in the creative industries and the quality of content that marketers produce on their client’s behalf?

Can AI help?

Team input

Our agency holds regular meetings where we discuss the progress of both website and marketing activities being carried out on behalf of our clients. But we also discuss important industry issues that affect both us and them. These meetings have frequently included the topic of AI development. 

As MD of BBI Brandboost, I have a hands-on approach to all these matters. So I recently discussed the issue of AI, which has caused an open letter from tech leaders in March 2023 calling for a temporary moratorium on AI development, with two specialist members of our team.

Firstly Jason, our Account Director with exceptional experience in digital marketing as well as our wide range of technical and creative online services. Back in February this year, he wrote an article for our website titled “AI-generated content will not hurt your website, but it might not help it either.

In his conclusion he wrote: “Marketing agencies may adopt AI to help with copywriting. If those agencies or their clients believe that this new tool will be some kind of marketing panacea – that the bot they call up will suddenly ensure a higher rank in search results or more website traffic – they have a shock coming. As Google says: ‘Using AI doesn't give content any special gains. It's just content.”

So would he revise his opinions given new AI developments?

“No, I stick to the point that AI is a tool to serve us rather than being a means of managing and controlling the creation of online content. This has to be the product of human inspiration rather than an automated process. Otherwise, how can we progress to new and innovative ideas?”

I was also concerned about the use of automated content to target users in their perception of a brand. So then I turned to Ronnie, who as our Head of Communications has had decades of experience in journalism, PR and copywriting.

“We live in a febrile atmosphere where information provided by traditional media channels is vying with content on social media that is frequently fake news and information. So the public is understandably cynical. 

“Businesses like ourselves are also bombarded with emails, including one that was recently misdirected to us by a company offering 50 blog articles per month.

“This instantly smacks of automation which would be a turn-off for most people. Industry spokesmanship is a major way that PR can promote the views of their clients through the personal expertise of those that work with them in a managerial or technical capacity. But if blogs by-lined by an author are perceived to be automated, that would instantly spell dishonesty which would have a massive negative impact on the brand in question.”

Time for thought

So finally, let’s turn to Forbes, which I believe gives a very balanced and well-considered approach to AI in relation to marketing and communications.

They said that it’s important to remember that while AI has a lot to offer in the realm of digital marketing, it can't replace human creativity and strategic thinking. AI can assist marketers in analysing large sums of data, but it's ultimately up to humans to interpret and act on that information.

They also said that apart from that, AI has certain limitations when it comes to understanding human behaviour, empathy and cultural nuances. AI is not capable of replicating human emotional intelligence, which is an important element in creating an everlasting impression on customers. AI may struggle to accurately interpret certain contextual factors that are unique to different communities. Making sure to include human insights and perspectives will help you to create campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences.

So that is definitely our view, but we will keep you posted on developments and insights in the coming weeks. We would also welcome your feedback on this issue and please contact us if you’d like to discuss how AI might affect the marketing of your business.

About the Author

Andrew Libra

Andrew Libra

As MD of BBI Brandboost, Andrew heads up our award winning team of Online Communications & Marketing Specialists, which provides an extensive suite of website development, application development, online marketing, SEO and social media services to local, national and international businesses. Read more...

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