Hello PR-obot: Should comms pros plug in?

Published: 30 July 2019

Could working with artificial intelligence give PR professionals a boost?

AI is already being used on a variety of PR type tasks: pushing social media posts, appraising sentiment within copy and even writing it in the first place.

Elon Musk, he of Tesla and space rockets fame, has recently sunk $100m of his not inconsiderable fortune into a company called Neuralink. It’s Elon, so needless to say it’s cutting edge tech. But this is different. Neuralink is developing a small processor that will plug in just behind your ear and allow us to directly communicate with computers. The opportunity is that this will allow us to team up human brains with AI, augmenting our memory and processing capacity.

This is not an episode of Black Mirror. It’s happening now. It will likely change the way we live, work – and even how we do PR and corporate communications.

Like most of us, I think a bit more capacity would be great. Certainly, my memory would welcome a boost that will avoid me forgetting what it is I’m looking for as I blankly stare at File Explorer.

There has been much written and speculated about how work in professional services will be impacted by AI, with many speculating that large volumes of jobs will fall to the robots. In this dystopia, computers will enslave us and in turn put us to task on the menial and banal work we’ve been trying to escape for decades. But to think about a computer replacing a PR practitioner? Surely not.

To answer this, we need to appreciate just what it is that a robot, driven by AI, might replace.

AI is already being used on a variety of PR type tasks: pushing social media posts, appraising sentiment within copy and even writing it in the first place.

Good news. More time at the beach! However, many of these jobs are a functional, though clearly necessary part, of the PR role. Can AI advise; give counsel?

This relies on our judgement. We call it judgement as though its innate. Maybe to a minor extent, but it’s mostly learned through experience. That experience is limited to the scenarios we encounter and the outcomes they deliver. Like computers diagnosing illness, by analysing a vast volume of scenarios diagnosis of symptoms can be more accurate. As such it’s probable that judgement can, in the future, be learned by the robots. And certainly, by teaming up with computers, be bettered in humans.

Creativity is surely our last bastion. Can AI bring unstructured information and insight together, abstractly and creatively, to come up with campaigns; those ideas that intrigue and interest us?

Right now, the answer is no. So maybe Neuralink, giving communications professionals the capacity and memory of robots, adding something artificial to our intelligence, is the next big step. A bridge that takes us from humans as consultants to computer driven counsel. The PR-obots are coming. Want to plug in?

 

Keith Brookbank

Director

 

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