The Promise and Peril of AI: My Key Takeaways from the Impact Relations Institute Panel

I recently co-moderated an illuminating panel discussion on artificial intelligence hosted by the Impact Relations Institute, alongside my colleague Melissa Orozco. Our esteemed guests included Dr. Lisa Costa, Chief Technology Officer of the United States Space Force, who joined us via Zoom from the Pentagon, as well as author Robert Scales.

As a photographer, videographer and designer exploring how tech can drive social change, I was fascinated to hear their perspectives. Their insights revealed both the transformative potential of AI as well as areas requiring caution and responsibility.

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Here’s a summary of the top questions from the audience during the AI panel discussion:

  • How can senior corporate communications professionals adapt to AI tools if they aren’t directly creating content? The advice was to focus on developing an “AI mindset” – be curious, adaptable, data literate, aware of ethics. Learn to apply AI strategically through continuous hands-on use and training. Soft skills like critical thinking will remain essential.
  • How can we ensure authenticity in ESG/impact reporting when AI can generate false content Leveraging AI’s creative potential while instilling ethics is key. Prepare the model with quality data and context. Monitor outputs to detect bias. Have humans collaborate with AI for authentic communications.
  • Will journalism survive the age of AI? AI is transforming fields like journalism, not eliminating them. Roles will evolve to incorporate fact checking, multidisciplinary teamwork, new creative avenues enabled by technology. Upgrading skills will be crucial.
  • How can we address AI worsening inequality, displacing jobs? Solutions include policy reform, universal basic income, reskilling programs, bias audits, transparency guidelines, accessible education on AI ethics and capabilities. Focus on human-AI collaboration.

AI’s Creative Capabilities

One thing that struck me was how AI is already demonstrating creative capacity. As Dr. Costa noted, “By combining information in new and novel ways, AI can produce original art, poetry, and more that stirs the soul.” However, for this creativity to be ethically applied, Dr. Costa emphasized that “Responsible AI has to be built in, and that’s really challenging when, um, pieces of data are missing.” There are valid concerns around perpetuating societal biases, displacing jobs, and spreading misinformation that must be proactively addressed.

The Deepfake Dilemma

Personally, I found the discussion around deepfakes alarming. As Robert Scales explained, “You’re seeing misinformation. You’re seeing manipulation of journalism.” The ability to manipulate video and audio to mimic anyone could be exploited for political propaganda or business sabotage via social engineering fraud. Advanced security measures like blockchain and watermarking are urgently needed to detect synthetic media and combat disinformation.

AI’s Impact on Media and Marketing

While AI will undoubtedly transform professions like graphic design and data analytics, the panelists provided reassurance that roles in marketing and media aren’t going away – they’re evolving. By taking initiative to upgrade our skills, embrace AI’s creative potential, and infuse cognitive diversity into teams, humans can augment machines rather than be replaced by them. As Dr. Costa put it, we must determine “How can this allow me to be more creative? How can this allow me to be more productive?”

Recommendations for Responsible AI Adoption

To responsibly integrate AI, Robert Scales spotlighted accessible education around critical thinking and ethical implications as vital: “Education, curriculum update, and accessibility will be very important.” Policymakers also need to develop regulatory frameworks and training programs focused on equitable AI adoption. Individuals should continuously hone our “AI mindset” through curiosity, adaptability, and data literacy.

The Path Forward

After analyzing AI’s double-edged potential during this insightful panel, the path forward seems clear. While AI may soon replicate human intelligence in many realms, nurturing our humanity – through creativity, empathy and ethics – is how we can steer its power to benefit all.


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