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Artificial Intelligence in Marketing and PR: What Are the Ethical Implications of AI?

There’s a new alluring vision of artificial intelligence in marketing and PR that involves hyper-targeted campaigns, instant audience insights, and more efficiency than ever before. 

A consumer could be scrolling through social media feeds when they come across a perfectly tailored ad for hiking boots, featuring the influencer they trust the most climbing a mountain wearing that same brand of boots, for example. However, this type of hyper-personalization is a double-edged sword, because it comes with a number of ethical questions and concerns.

Privacy

People’s digital footprints used to be scattered all over the internet with no one caring about them, but now, they’re all meticulously tracked by AI. Cookies are available on every website, and algorithms invisibly chart online movements, building detailed profiles of people’s desires, aspirations, and even vulnerabilities. 

While convenience might tempt some people to surrender this trove of information willingly, the ethical implications are chilling. One implication would be AI-powered insurance premiums, for instance, fluctuating based on browsing history or political views. Or personalized ads exploiting the deepest insecurities, whispering promises of miracle cures for the guilt of indulging in late-night pizza or ice cream.

Manipulation

AI can create tantalizing messages like a master storyteller, developing narratives so compelling they blur the lines between persuasion and manipulation. For example, it could be relatively easy to create AI-generated news articles mimicking the writing style of trusted journalists, subtly pushing a specific agenda. 

In a world saturated with information, discerning genuine communication from AI-orchestrated puppet shows becomes a treacherous tightrope walk. The potential for misinformation and social engineering is immense, leaving people questioning the authenticity of everything they see and hear. 

AI biases

AI’s effectiveness depends on the data it’s trained on, which can be problematic due to long-standing biases and prejudices. These biases can seep into algorithms, resulting in discriminatory practices that reinforce societal inequalities. 

These issues are not theoretical; they have resulted in real-world injustices, eroding trust in technology and underscoring the importance of ethical oversight.

Collaborating with AI

The fear of job loss due to robots is a recurring concern in the era of AI. But it’s time to change the perspective. Artificial intelligence in marketing and PR is a powerful tool, not a replacement for humans. It allows people to concentrate on the human elements of marketing and PR, such as creativity, empathy, and establishing real connections. 

This collaboration, with robots handling data and humans creating narratives, is the key to fully harnessing the potential of AI in marketing and PR.

Navigating ethical implications

Taming the beast of AI requires a sturdy moral compass. There are a couple of guiding principles to ensure AI remains a force for good, not a weapon of manipulation. It’s important to be upfront about AI use, explain how data is collected and utilized, and own up to any algorithmic glitches. 

Consumers deserve to know when they’re interacting with a machine, not a human puppet master. The other principle is to actively combat bias in data and algorithms, ensuring inclusivity and equity in all AI-powered campaigns. Every voice deserves to be heard, not filtered out by the discriminatory hum of biased code.

Credit: Everything PR

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