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Artificial intelligence

Communicate clearly about artificial intelligence

Technology has become a new form of religion. While in the old days we prayed to our Lord for a good harvest, today's tech evangelists talk about the enormous potential of new technologies such as cloud computing, blockchain and 6G. For many companies, technology is seen as the key to their survival - and this is also expressed when communicating to their investors, clients and other stakeholders. 

One of the most hyped of these technologies is artificial intelligence. This is the technology that many companies focus on and talk about. And it makes perfect sense. Because artificial intelligence is wild. It cannot be compared to e.g. 6G technology or blockchain, because artificial intelligence is by its very nature dynamic. It has the potential to become "smarter" itself, whereas a 6G antenna will be nothing more than a 6G antenna unless people interfere.

This unique potential of technology means that many companies want to join the ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE bandwagon. (Just as many will also take part in the ESG debate). But the great potential can lead people astray and result in counterproductive communication. 

Dangerous predictions?

There are many predictions about what artificial intelligence will have in the future. For example, that it will replace judges, soldiers, stockbrokers, journalists and even researchers. And as we collect more and more data, it's just a matter of time before it finds the cure for cancer and solves the climate crisis with new sustainable fuels. 

But there's a risk in focusing too much on the long-term potentials of tech evangelicals' toasts. If technology goes from science to hocus pocus, you risk disappointing both your investors and clients, because the tangible results here and now are not commensurate with the packaging.

Communicate clearly about artificial intelligence

Below are three tips on what companies and other organizations can do the next time they want to tell the outside world about artificial intelligence:

  1. Be specific. Explain exactly what your company's use of artificial intelligence does. If it helps a biologist understand the build-up of a particular protein, or if it is used to optimize the streaming quality of a computer game, then write it. It doesn't have to be groundbreaking - and often it won't be.

  2. Avoid bombastic predictions. It can be alluring to put on the optimistic glasses, but history has often shown that predictions are difficult. Just as when the visicalc calculator and later Excel were predicted to wipe out the accountancy industry. If you look at the audit houses today, they are still in the best interests of the public.

  3. Use other terms. For many, artificial intelligence probably evokes associations with sci-fi movies and killer robots with heavy Austrian accents. There are also examples of criminal sentencing- where artificial intelligence turned out to be racist rather than intelligent. Therefore, you should perhaps save the term for the intuitively intelligent solutions and find other appropriate terms such as machine learning, deep learning, neural networks or something completely different where it makes sense. Then you don't contribute to the hype yourself.

It's hard to find the right balance when talking about artificial intelligence. I myself have sat with the challenge and probably also made mistakes. But there is hope ahead. Because as AI solutions are rolled out across multiple industries,clients, investors and not least journalists quite naturally start asking more critical questions on the subject.

That is why it is important that companies manage to reconcile their messages so that they do not appear untrustworthy or help to undermine confidence in a technology where no one knows the long-term consequences for society. I certainly don't. 

Written by Christian Top Marchant

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