A few years ago, I read an article about what will change when most of the cars on the road are self-driving. Of course, we can stop depending on other countries for oil, we’ll have reduced congestion, greater road safety, traffic efficiencies, and more.
The thing that stuck with me most, though, was the fact that organ donors will drop drastically. If there are fewer traffic accidents—and deaths—there are fewer organ donations. Human error causes 94% of car accidents, leading to 1.25 million deaths every year. A major deficit suddenly exists if even a fraction of those deaths result in organ donations.
Anything new—technology or otherwise—has pros, cons, and unintended consequences. I personally can’t wait until everyone has an autonomous vehicle. Driving in Chicago is so stressful. Please take control away from the people!
This is how I feel about artificial intelligence. There are lots of pros and cons—risks and rewards. And certainly some unintended consequences. But, like anything else, it’s time for society to make changes, and generative AI will help us get there.
Saving You a Full Day of Work
I recently read that when Beyonce performed in Sweden in May, the country’s inflation increased slightly (0.3%) during the few days leading up to and the few days after. Incredible artist. Popular concert. Unintended consequences.
In 2012, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that knowledge workers spent about a fifth of their time, or one day each work week, searching for and gathering information. If generative AI could take on such tasks, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the workers doing them, the benefits would be huge.
Now the idea of a four-day workweek is actually valid—or, if you’re not a fan or don’t see the point, you can gain an entire day in your week. I’m game!
Unintended Consequences of Generative AI
But even with all of these advantages, introducing generative AI to marketing functions has some unintended consequences—some of you may have already experienced it.
For one thing, your intellectual property could be stolen. This is something we deal with every day with the PESO Model™. In some cases, it’s unintentional. In others, the thief thinks because it is in the public domain, they don’t have to credit the inventor, no matter how many cease and desist letters they receive from attorneys.
When this happens, the model is trained without safeguards against plagiarism, copyright violations, and branding recognition. And, because some publications like Forbes sell editorial space in their dot com without fact-checking, the models can pull theft and plagiarism without understanding that it’s wrong.
We Need a Sense of Purpose
In his book Drive, Daniel Pink talks about how money does not motivate people in their jobs. Sure, we all need to make a living, but once our basic needs are met, money is not what drives us.
To prove this point, he illustrates an example of you determining your salary—what you think you need to live in the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed and maybe have even more. Let’s say it’s a million-dollar-a-year salary.
Great! You now make a million bucks a year. Your job? It’s to sit in the middle of an empty warehouse and stare at the wall for eight hours a day. You don’t have a phone. No laptop. No tablet. No books. No exercise equipment. Nothing. Just you, the empty warehouse, and your thoughts.
How long would you last?
I’m highly motivated by money. Probably more than most people. And I’ll bet I could make it…two hours? Maybe. If I was really stubborn about it.
The point is that purpose is what drives us. All of us. We need to have a sense of doing something. Anything that makes us feel like we’re contributing to something.
And AI Will Give Us More Time
Now relate that to generative AI. You quite suddenly have a full day of work with nothing to do. Sure, you could have a four-day workweek—which might be OK. But what if you had two full days of work with nothing to do because generative AI has made you that efficient?
We will need to channel our newfound freedom into new activities that give us the same social and mental benefits that our job used to provide. It’s akin to the phrase, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”
I definitely work that way. If I have too much time on my hands, nothing gets done. But if I’m crazy busy? Everything seems to magically get done. Even I’m sometimes surprised.
So how do you fill those days with purpose and belonging? Unintended consequences.
The good news is that even with unintended consequences, generative AI is great for our industry.
So How Will You Fill Your Extra Time?
Several years ago, Chris Penn and I were talking about artificial intelligence and whether it would take over our world. I was adamant that a robot couldn’t replace a creative industry like ours. And I was sort of right. So far, we’ve seen that it can replace a really smart intern, but it doesn’t replace the creativity or thinking of our industry’s professionals.
But something Chris said at that time has always stuck with me. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, stop freaking out about AI replacing you. Eventually, you will have a bunch of machines working for you, and your job will be to ensure they’re all doing what you need them to do—ethically and responsibly.
He likened it to a symphony. Your robots will be the orchestra, and you will be the conductor. So get smart on conducting your orchestra of robots to get the best results.
So as you consider how you will get really smart about becoming the conductor, here are three things to add to your bailiwick:
- Efficient and effective content creation;
- Enhanced use of data; and
- Search engine optimization.
Let’s take them one at a time.
Efficient and Effective Content Creation
I don’t know if you’ve been testing out ChatGPT or anything else like that, but if you haven’t, get to it! I’ve already found it significantly reduces the time required for ideation and content drafting. In some cases, it has also helped my team take hours-long video scripts and create content around them almost instantly. The kind of stuff that would have taken us weeks to do pre-November 2022.
There also is better collaboration and even the ability to enhance the personalization of messages aimed at different customer segments, geographies, and demographics. Mass email campaigns can be instantly translated into as many languages as needed, with different imagery and messaging, depending on the audience.
Its ability to produce content with varying specifications could increase customer value, attraction, conversion, and retention over a lifetime and at a scale beyond what is currently possible through traditional techniques.
Enhanced Use of Data
One of the biggest challenges comms pros have is demonstrating the value of our work. Sure, it’s gotten better in the past decade, but we still struggle with measuring good, ol’ brand awareness, which is the backbone of the work that we do.
Imagine if generative AI can not only help you prove all the brand awareness work you’re doing is working, but it takes data from a bunch of different sources to help you tell the story. Now imagine that it does all of that and helps you relate the work you’re doing with what marketing is doing and advertising and product development and customer experience and more.
And then imagine if it helps you identify and synthesize trends, key drivers, and market and product opportunities from unstructured data such as social media, news, academic research, and customer feedback.
Search Engine Optimization
Last year, we onboarded a new client whose website, well, let’s just say it needed some help. Not a single page was optimized and many of the pages had the same copy with just the product or the industry changed. No bueno.
So we set out to change all of that for them—and help them rank above the fold on Google. It took us MONTHS. Granted, we don’t have someone on staff whose full-time job this is so we divided and conquered. But even with several of us doing the work, it still took us months.
Fast forward to now when we have the help of generative AI. It now provides all page titles, image tags, and URLs.
What took us months can now be done in a matter of seconds. Heck, outside of reviewing and approving with the AI came up with, the client can do this work themselves. (Not that I want to work us out of a job, but it would allow us to work on the more strategic things.)
So yes. There are unintended consequences of all of this technology—and certainly of the pace we are experiencing with all of these changes. But the pros far outweigh the cons.
Be a Conductor of Your AI Orchestra
If you’d like to learn more about how to become the conductor of your generative AI orchestra, join us in the Spin Sucks Community.
It’s a community full of crazy smart professionals. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s smart…and you might just learn a thing or two from your peers.
And one thing to note about next week: my team and I will be out of the office celebrating Independence Day so there will be no blog post. If you’re in the States, have a great holiday weekend. I’ll see you in two weeks!