Opening the door to AI: How our values guide our approach

Jed Chapman

By Jed Chapman

In AI

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Given recent news headlines, social media furore and a seemingly endless eruption of videos exclaiming “here’s how [insert AI program] can revolutionise your work-life balance”, it’s clear many of us have been asleep at the wheel when it came to keeping track of developments in the generative AI space. 

The novelty of image generation programs such as Dall-E had given way to more fundamental discussions around the impact of generative AI on the arts industry. OpenAI released ChatGPT in the closing months of 2022; a powerful Language Learning Model chat-bot that reached 1 million users within its first five days of launch.

At the time of writing, it’s currently at full capacity as developers scramble to scale up their systems to cope with demand, and there is also a paid ‘professional’ version in the pipeline.

Suddenly, the same questions facing the arts industry applied to many more sectors. Digital comms is no exception.

It’s likely to be a long time before we grasp the full range of possibilities – and understand the impacts – unleashed with the generative AI releases of the last year alone. But with the CEO of OpenAI promising an enormously more powerful version of ChatGPT soon, alongside a slew of new AI-powered marketing integration products cropping up, our focus at Empower turned inwards, and we’ve launched our AI Comms Lab.

Why launch an AI Comms Lab?

If these developments in AI are to revolutionise the digital comms world as some are predicting, how do we ensure that we harness new opportunities whilst championing our human-first values, protecting our creative teams and keeping abreast of new developments? 

As a values-led digital comms agency, we believe that AI can be used to augment and support the work of our human team members. We ideally will never use automated programs that would – cumulatively or otherwise – cost a human their job.

The ethical issue with AI is thorny, as there is a solid argument that a lot of the technology is fundamentally unethical – at present at least – because it relies on huge amounts of private data scraped from the internet without consent.

There are all kinds of implications around copyright, IP, monopolisation, protection, safeguarding, etc – and using the tech at all, at this point in time, which could be perceived as tacitly unethical or harmful to workers in the wider economy.

But there are also exciting opportunities. By using AI to handle repetitive or time-consuming tasks, we see potential to free up our team members so that they can focus on higher-value work such as strategy development, creative thinking, and client relationship management. This would allow us to not only improve our overall productivity, but also empower our team to grow and develop their own skills and interests.

Our AI Comms Lab plans to explore how AI integrations may support our work, or offer a springboard to assist our thinking, while considering these wider ethical issues.

How Empower could use AI integrations

While we are waiting to see how the ethical and legal sides of AI unfolds, the following use cases are hypothetical future options as the (prompt-generated) picture becomes clearer:

  • Operations: Running through team workflows and processes to show us where there are gaps or things we need to prioritise.
  • Creative Planning: Generating ideas for approaching a whole range of digital comms challenges.
  • Video Scripting: Using prompts to generate outlines of videos, which can be fine-tuned before going into production.
  • Copywriting: Using a program similar to ChatGPT to spark inspiration for writing social media posts, blog posts, etc, with oversight and editing from copywriters.
  • Editing and Optimisation: Improving designs and other creatives assets.
  • Content Resourcing: Creation of initial content, which can be built on by copywriters.

Opportunities aside, it would be right to approach this with caution. What are the long-term implications of generative AI on knowledge-based or creative industries, and the jobs that comprise them? It’s a question that’s being asked by many, but the impacts may be too broad, nuanced or entirely unforeseen to delve into at this stage. As Professor John Naughton puts it, “we generally overestimate the short-term impact of new communication technologies, while grossly underestimating their long-term implications.”

There are three major litigations that are underway – two of them launched in January 2023. One of the cases is from Getty, a major supplier of stock images, editorial photography, video and music, so these cases will define the future landscape of how AI works, where and when it can be used, which platforms survive, and so forth.  

Questions our AI Comms Lab is asking

Our approach at Empower will focus on these questions:

  • What are our thoughts, fears and aspirations for using AI in our work?
  • What are the ethical implementations of using AI in our digital comms work?
  • How can we keep on top of the changes that AI is bringing to digital comms?
  • How can we use AI to increase productivity amongst teams, creating more free time for individuals whilst still delivering work to Empower’s quality and standards?
  • How can we protect human labour and emphasise a healthy work-life balance, in line with Empower’s core values?
  • How can AI be used for strategic and creative planning, individual development and training?

To ensure our exploration of these programs is ethical, fair and does not negatively impact the work of our team, we plan to develop an internal working group at Empower, bringing together team members with diverse skill sets from various backgrounds to workshop how best to implement augmentation while protecting and preserving areas of work that excel on human expertise, creativity and strategic thinking. 

We will also be vigilant with the outputs it provides us – issues of bias are well documented in this space and we must be careful to ensure any content we produce or use using generative tools does not perpetuate discrimination and fall foul of our own values. 

Overall, our approach to using AI will be driven by our core values – ethical, driven, and people-centred. We are deeply committed to upholding these as we explore and experiment with this new digital frontier.

We’ll be updating our AI journey as part of our AI Comms Lab. Want to follow our journey? Sign up to our monthly email newsletter for Empower’s latest thoughts and insights.

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