by Marcus McCabe
Because every week seems to bring a fresh AI safety concern, but also just because speaking to ChatGPT can feel downright uncanny, there is as much ambivalence as there is excitement about AI’s arrival in public consciousness. Is it akin to the invention of the printing press, or are we witnessing the end of times?
Frankly, nobody knows for sure.
It does seem certain now that AI will change the world as we know it. Already, UK-based DeepMind can predict the structure of any protein, accelerating the discovery of life-saving medicines. AI’s near-infinite powers of monitoring and analysis can optimize energy usage, possibly holding a solution to climate change. It is already boosting productivity and automating mundane tasks like data inputting and paperwork, freeing up workers for more interesting, value-add tasks. At the same time, images of the pope in a puffer jacket rear up concerns about deepfakes and cybersecurity experts are raising the alarm about the cyberattacks that AI bots like ChatGPT could unleash.
As is often the case with technological innovations, governments have been blindsided by the technology’s rapid evolution, with the UK’s AI council failing to mention large language models (LLMs) (the machine-learning technology that powers ChatGPT) in its 2021 AI roadmap. However, regulation is now being assembled at pace. Rishi Sunak is seeking to hold the world’s first global summit on Artificial Intelligence safety in the UK this autumn; Sam Altman, CEO of the company who brought us ChatGPT, faced a grilling from congress last May; the EU aims to reach cross-country agreement on its AI Act by the end of the year.
Amid so much fear, uncertainty and doubt, but also so much opportunity, it is imperative that companies develop an AI communications strategy. If customers think that all work has been outsourced to a bot which has been prone to bias or even making things up, they will take their business elsewhere. Businesses need to reassure their stakeholders that they are using AI to push the boundaries of what is possible for their customers, while also taking concerns seriously.
Trust is the most valuable currency for any company looking to implement AI, and the best way to build it is through earned or owned media. This may be in the press, via a company blog or on social media. We live in exciting times and this moment in history offers a unique opportunity for thought leaders to emerge. By grasping the nettle and addressing AI challenges head-on, a business’s key spokespeople have the power to reassure their stakeholders, and even shape the conversation around how we as a species manage AI.