Let’s accept artificial intelligence and technology as tools, but not let them replace our humanity

SUSI Scholar Sokhen Sun records a presentation about the Cronkite PR Lab

The development of digital media and artificial intelligence (AI) has undoubtedly changed and challenged the media communication industry, one of a few factors that have made working in media communication more difficult. We must first deal with the dispersed audience. Due to the proliferation of digital media channels, viewers are increasingly spread across multiple platforms and devices, and we manage this phenomenon. Personalization of content consumption has replaced traditional mass media, making it more difficult for communicators to connect with and engage a wide audience.

Overwhelming information is the second. With so much information available through digital media platforms, it can be difficult for media communicators to stand out from the crowd and draw in an audience. Developing persuasive and pertinent messaging is necessary to compete with the large amount of content. Third, speed and immediacy expectations are also increased by digital media. Digital media in this context operates in real time, and people expect to have access to information immediately. In the new landscape of digital media, therefore, media communicators must be flexible, fast to react to breaking news and events, and engaged on a variety of digital platforms. 

But on the other hand, social media sites face additional difficulties now that they are effective vehicles for spreading information. Information can spread quickly, which might result in rumors and false information. Media communicators must carefully traverse the social media landscape and master the art of managing online discussions. The reality is that media companies are now able to compile a sizable quantity of data on audience preferences, behavior, and engagement that is growing thanks to AI and big data analytics. To guide their goals and improve their content for more audience engagement, media communicators need to grasp data analytics and use insights. Today’s media and communicators face a number of issues as a result of new technology that emerges swiftly and disrupts both fields of employment. 

The Scholars visit the Cronkite PR Lab
Cronkite PR Lab Executive Director and Professor of Practice John Nicoletti talks to the Scholars while students work on their client projects

This became part of our discussion when all SUSI participants joined in discussion at the Cronkite School’s Public Relations Lab on Wednesday. According to John Nicoletti, the executive director of the Cronkite Agency and a professor of practice, who led the conversation, we do not need to worry much about this. He continued on to say that lecturers, academics, and practitioners of communication, like those in public relations, need to be aware that AI technology lacks the same passion, feeling, and affection as a human being. Therefore, we all need to improve these particular skills. First, since the majority of the job done by media and communication professionals involves producing interesting and engaging material, strong writing abilities are essential. The capacity for effective communication is crucial whether creating press releases, social media postings, articles, or marketing materials. Effective message delivery, audience engagement, and upholding the legitimacy and reputation of the organization or client one is representing are all made possible by practitioners with strong writing abilities. 

A young woman speaking in the PR lab
Scholar Felicity Hsu (Taiwan) participates in a discussion in the Cronkite School Public Relations Lab

Due to the growth of digital media outlets, viewers are now spread out across a variety of platforms and devices, thus secondly, we need the ability to conduct first-rate research. This is crucially significant in the field of public relations. Media and communication professionals need to conduct in-depth research to understand their target audience, market trends, competitors, and relevant media outlets. The development of successful communication strategies, the choice of appropriate distribution channels, and the development of personalized messages are all aided by research. It also equips practitioners with the ability to anticipate future issues, recognize opportunities, and reach well-informed conclusions in order to achieve their communication goals.

Third, critical thinking is another crucial aspect. In the media and communication industries, critical thinking is crucial since it aids practitioners in the analysis and evaluation of data, concepts, and circumstances. They can use it to evaluate communications critically, determine their reliability, spot biases, and distinguish between trustworthy and dependable sources. Practitioners, academics, and students who use critical thinking are better equipped to challenge assumptions, weigh other viewpoints, and reach thoughtful conclusions. Additionally, it aids in decision making, planning strategically, and problem solving while ensuring that communication efforts are deliberate, moral, and successful. 

SUSI Scholars Hassan Fakih (Lebanon) and Angela Van der Kooye (Suriname) chat with John Nicoletti in the Cronkite PR Lab

I interviewed Dr. Carmem Lucia Barreto Petit, a Lecturer at Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil about this topic. She stated, “We do not need to be concerned about AI replacing human beings because many of the claims made by Chat GPT, for instance, are completely false.  I once asked a student to ask for information about me in Chat GPT, but the information that was given was completely false–it identified me as a Brazilian actress.”

When I asked Dr. Mariana Kitsa about this, an associate professor at Lviv Polytechnic National University in Ukraine, she responded that, “Media literacy media plays a significant role in communicating this subject. We must teach our students to be more skeptical of inaccurate, deceptive, and incorrect information that might be presented in some AI applications. Students must model the ability to thoroughly verify all information and never accept it without a critical thought.”

Despite the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) can be utilized as a tool to aid in our search for knowledge, Tamanda Chipo Masambuka, a lecturer at the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences in Malawi, warns that we should never rely on AI for our beliefs and sources. Since students are also people, we can instead use our own minds, emotions, and interests to direct our work. Students can use AI as a tool like other technology, but they must also exercise skepticism.

We may learn from discussions of this nature that students and professionals in media and communication can increase their professional competency by honing their writing skills, conducting in-depth research, and honing their critical thinking ability. These skills make it easier for us to effectively craft messages that have an impact, establish relationships with stakeholders, manage crises, and meet communication goals. Additionally, these skills help students and practitioners navigate the difficulties of the digital age and quickly adjust to the media landscape’s ongoing development.

Ultimately, I agree with Tamanda, John, Carmem, and Mariana that fervor and the use of potent language are further aspects that distinguish people from technology. Therefore, we as humans do not need to worry too much about it as we use advanced technology as tools to help us work more successfully and logically. By acknowledging the potential benefits, resolving ethical problems, and promoting collaboration between humans and technology, we may look to the future with optimism and ensure that technology genuinely enhances our lives.