Author: Julia Hunt

Post Date: 2017-09-15

As Artificial Intelligence becomes part of every day life, early adopters need to consider the best ways of communicating its benefits.

The robots are coming … and they’re after your jobs. Banks to shed one sixth of staff as AI creates the workforce of the future. Freedom is dead as AI tracks your every move, forever! 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its effects, can be framed in many ways. The above points are the sort of headlines media could easily use when reporting on some of the new applications companies around us are already adopting.

At a recent AI Retreat in Jersey, organised by Cognitive Finance Group, delegates heard about some of ways machine learning could transform the way we work. While some of the new tech showcased at the event was directed towards financial services, as the products are developed, they will expand to other industries, affecting, well, everyone.

In the opening presentation, Clara Durodié, CEO of Cognitive Finance Group, explained how China is leading the integration of AI into financial services, with AI-focused companies such as Alipay already looking after the finances of more customers than the entire population of the USA.

David Kelnar, Head of Research and Investment Director at MMC Investments made many points about the benefits of AI for improving productivity, but also shared a few of the challenges.

Did you know the most common job in 22 American states is a truck driver? It’s unlikely anyone could retrain 4.2 million truck drivers as data scientists overnight, highlighting the issue society will soon face if vast swathes of the population find their jobs replaced by robots.

Even companies that don’t go all out with AI are likely to start using more software to run services instead of people. Dr Michael Aikenhead, Executive Director, Cognitive Finance Group, highlighted some of the issues in his presentation on Robotic Process Automation (RPA).  

More efficient, able to work 24 hours, easier to scale up, and cheaper than people, RPA may initially free up staff time from admin to focus on tasks that still require people, such as negotiating and customer services. However, if one RPA can do the work of six people, it will lead to redeployment, and retraining, if not redundancies. All of these are issues that will require careful communication both internally with staff, and externally with customers and the media.

AI will no doubt eventually make a lot of current PR functions obsolete. We already use a raft of excellent software to save time on the sort of tasks people entering the world of PR would have done, such as creating coverage books of media cuttings.

One of the companies at the retreat, Luminance, showcased a new due diligence platform. Although designed to help legal firms save time comparing contracts for anomalies, it’s possible to imagine how as the software develops, it could be used to save time reading lots of documents – perhaps helping students, academics, and even journalists.

High level PR, however, is not a skill robots are likely to master very soon; and if companies want to help people understand the benefits of AI, and the trajectory companies are taking, real people are the best way to communicate.

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