Does AI write better copy?
We have the means to mould digitalisation to our own ends. But what about artificial intelligence in an industry like communications that’s so dependent on human interactions? Will robots ever be equal to us?
With algorithms and intelligent voice-controlled shopping lists directing our shopping experience and social bots influencing elections, artificial intelligence (AI) has long since left the lab and entered our everyday lives. But what is its role in communications, and corporate communications in particular?
A core area of AI is machine learning: artificially generating knowledge from experience. It enables computers to work on problems independently and model human decisionmaking structures.
Technical progress meets the needs of a globalised world where everything has to be quick and efficient. That’s precisely what robots can offer. Intelligent systems enable real-time analysis of volumes of data and thus new ways of interacting with audiences. Automatically written news releases, translations at the click of a mouse and interactions via chatbot are in many cases a reality, or not hard to imagine.
Even attempts to take problems that people solve intuitively, for example voice and face recognition, and formulating them according to mathematical rules, are getting more and more convincing. People are increasingly using digital voice assistants. “Mobile first” was yesterday. Today it’s “voice first”.
Consumer needs and behaviours are evolving in line with the new possibilities. Working out which came first is the classic chicken and egg question. But one thing’s for sure: AI not only smooths the way for communications meeting these needs, but also opens completely new doors.
In the thick of the news
Take the new platforms for broadcasting stories, such as virtual town halls for global meetings, and media conferences and news that use augmented reality to put the recipient right at the heart of what’s going on. Other examples including anticipating crises by tracking key search terms, or identifying more reliable sources and fake news using smart algorithms.
Artificial intelligence can facilitate standardised processes, leaving more room for strategic and creative work. At the same time it’s leading to opportunities for richer and more varied storytelling.
Where robots are no match for humans
Amid all the euphoria let’s not forget one thing: in many spheres robots cannot – at least not yet or in the near future – handle the complexity of the task. For example it’s still up to us humans to read between the lines and heed our gut feeling. And there are also areas where people wouldn’t want robots to be used in any case.
Another factor is that people tend to be less accepting of robots if they start to resemble us too closely, a phenomenon researchers called the “uncanny valley” that can be observed, for example, in animated films.
Ultimately people are still people, and when it comes to interactions with machines it’s less about replacing than augmenting us. Maybe artificial intelligence is precisely what it takes to bring us back to the original meaning and motivation for what we do: connecting people and stories, looking behind the scenes, building trust, and working from person to person.