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Humans vs. Machines: How Communicators Can Use AI

Have you heard?

Robots and AI are coming to take our jobs, burn our crops, and rule our civilizations.

Okay, that may be an exaggeration.

But with constant developments and advancements of AI and machine learning, many people feel concerned about this new technology and how it will affect our future.

AI and machine learning now automate tasks that once required humans, creating fear that the technology will one day replace large numbers of jobs.

Although AI has the potential to replace some jobs, especially those that involve repetitious tasks, automated, intelligent technology can enhance many jobs and free up time once occupied by routine busy work.

In particular, communicators can implement AI technology and machine learning to improve efficiency, liberate time for more intensive work, and contribute to business goals.

Human vs. machine

With its potential to replace jobs, the modern worker often views AI as their adversary.

In reality, AI can complement and assist professionals with work by performing tasks that humans could not and/or tasks that would require huge commitments of time, such as digesting massive sets of data.

AI also fails to threaten all jobs because without humans, AI could not exist. This technology, especially those in their stages of infancy, requires people to code them and feed them the data that makes them smarter.

As this technology ingests more data, it gains more intelligence, but it cannot achieve the same kind of intelligence we associate with humans, such as emotional intelligence and the ability to create, perceive, and guess.

When it comes to communications work, computers cannot complete purely human tasks, such as turning data into a compelling brand story or drafting the correct emotional response to a crisis.

A recent Harvard Business Review article explains that focusing solely on technology would be a misguided business practice. Although the technology can cut costs by improving efficiency, businesses that become too involved with trying to implement more technology will fall behind. Businesses that succeed will balance their reliance on technology with cultivating their workers and skills that are uniquely human, such as “empathy, curiosity, creativity, imagination, emotional and social intelligence, leadership, and the development of other people.”

How are communicators already using AI?

Many communications outlets already use this technology to automate mundane tasks, improve efficiency, and broaden their scope of capabilities.

In the summer of 2016, amid the US Presidential election, Buzzfeed premiered Buzzbot, created with the intention of improving man-on-the-street reporting. The bot, installed as part of the Facebook Messenger app, allowed Buzzfeed to collect news, photos, and quotes from attendees of the Republican National Convention by asking users questions in the Messenger app. Although this doesn’t accelerate the pace of the reporting process, it provides more eye witness accounts and opinions, making stories more accurate.

The Washington Post also used an artificially intelligent bot to assist in covering the scope of the 2016 US Presidential election. With the breakneck speed of news at that time, news outlets struggled to keep up with covering all relevant information. Instead of assigning an actual person to cover all events, especially local elections in smaller states, the Post used its bot to review source data, extract relevant information, and plug the results into a pre-made template. This technology allowed the Post to cater to the interests of local readers without exhausting too much human effort. With the time they saved with these efforts, their reporters were able to produce more thoughtful and research-driven articles that became a hallmark of that election cycle.

Wibbitz is using AI to help organizations create videos with more ease. The product turns a written post into video content in as little as ten seconds. According to the company, it takes their clients an average of 6.8 minutes to create a video, with a combination of machine learning and human curation.

How should you use AI?

When deciding to implement this technology, it’s most important to use AI to optimize your business goals. AI, like any other communications function, should be linked to objectives and measured with KPIs to prove its effectiveness.

Look at your 2018 communications plans and decide if automating any tasks with AI would free significant portions of your team’s time. Weigh the saved time against how much budget it would require to implement this function.

AI technology can be built, bought, or some combination of the two. Deciding which route your organization should pursue depends on internal resources and expertise of the technology, as well as allotted budget.

If you have the budget, look into paying for already built solutions, such as Wibbitz, that could automate tasks and/or allow you to produce work you previously lacked the capacity to create. Check out the products you pay for already, as many platforms are introducing AI capabilities. With these items already in your budget, it would make sense to leverage the available functionality.

Salesforce, for example, premiered Einstein, “AI for everyone,” in late 2016. This addition to the CRM platform uses a combination of machine learning, predictive analytics, deep learning, and natural language processing to identify important insight, forecast future behavior, recommend key next steps, and automate duties. For existing Salesforce users, this introduction allows professionals to optimize their customer interactions with the assistance of AI, without incurring more costs or expending human efforts.

As with any other new technology or strategy, do some research and start small. Find the functionality that would be most helpful to your organization and put in the time to ensure it’s properly implemented and benefiting business goals.

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