March 13, 2024

I’m Not Scared of AI Because I Have A Heart

Written by Jennifer Borba von Stauffenberg, founder and president of Olive

You’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. What are we going to do now that AI is taking over everything? It’s almost alarming, except that it’s not. Recently, I have started to joke that I’m not afraid of AI because I have a heart. It’s because of my humanity that I will still bring value to the table. I say it with a smirk, but I’m actually serious.

Just like everything else, AI is a tool, a wonderful, powerful tool that is sure to change the future. It is already making waves, but it’s a natural progression… we always knew that someone would figure out a way to utilize the endless sea of data out in the world to do something even more powerful.

Like everything else, there will be many challenges, new regulations, and a lot of kinks to iron out, but I’m personally very excited. I equate the current state of AI to where we were somewhere in the early 90’s when you could use your dialup and talk in chat rooms. There were very few websites and it certainly wasn’t a powerful tool yet in business. We were just scratching the surface. In fact, my first job out of college was for an event planning start up that aggregated event planning vendors. Even in 2001, it was before it’s time.

Many people in the public relations industry are panicked by the idea that we will no longer be needed. To this, I chuckle a little. Public Relations is about relationships, and while AI will surely get very far and in some cases very close, it will always lack our deepest human gift which is intuition and heart. Our job is to speak into the ears of target audiences and develop relationships.

For some people, it might even help them to be better at relationships, but compassion and joy are not something I think AI will master better than a heart-centered compassionate conscious leader.

Think of all the times in business that everything was perfect on paper, but it just didn’t turn out. Or other times, even though something seemed like a perfect opportunity, that sick feeling in your stomach drove you in a different direction and you somehow stumbled on the opportunity of a lifetime. In a world where free will is deeply valued, I think we know that while we can try to achieve that perfect-on-paper approach, the richness of campaigns, and in life in general, lies in the unpredictable –  the opportunities that appear out of thin air and the joy of amplifying something powerful as it starts to gain momentum.

I feel energized and inspired by the idea that we will have so much knowledge at our fingertips. I am excited that entrepreneurs might be able to skip some of the hurdles I had to overcome. I love that people will be able to access wisdom aggregated by thousands of scholars with a quick search. With all this knowledge comes a great responsibility. How will we use it? Will we cure the incurable diseases? Will we reverse climate change? Will we connect people who are suffering with solutions they need? Will we resolve food injustice? Or will we use it to steal knowledge or take advantage of people? All things are possible. There is almost always the pendulum of possibilities, good and bad… therein lies the humanity – which one will we choose?

The bottom line is that our consciousness and integrity will be more critical than ever.

We discuss AI just about every day in my world and at the stage it currently is in, it would take me longer to enter the details to get a result for a press release than it would just to simply write the thing myself. I love playing with it to see what results I can get and to help me achieve a different perspective, but it still has some work to do.

My biggest concern is more about copywriting issues. I have heard several horror stories about people using AI to draft quotes for people, pulling information from AI and quoting them with an AI quote vs. something they actually said. I have heard of other abuses like someone going as far as to publish things falsely presented as someone’s work when subsequently, the people noted as the author absolutely didn’t write it. I know it’s messy right now, but it’s got a lot of room to grow and evolve.

As a society, we are always evolving. Remember when we used to keep a map in our glove compartment so we could pull over and check our location? Then, we evolved to MapQuest and printing directions, then to GPS systems like Tom Tom and now, we ALL have maps in our phones and in all newer cars. It is an evolution. It has always been an evolution.

I also hear the worry that we will no longer develop certain skills as a society. And, yes, that is probably true, just like how we don’t have to know how to sew our own clothes or churn our own butter. It’s just not necessary in the modern world. Just like reading a map really isn’t an essential survival skill these days.

As a company, we sat down recently to discuss how we are using it and to set some agency parameters and agreements about appropriate usage. Here are a few ways we feel comfortable tapping into this intelligence:

  • Summarizing notes. AI is a fantastic tool for distilling down the main points of a long meeting or presentation.
  • Exploring creative ideas and positioning. Utilizing it to help identify creative ideas that will resonate with target audiences.
  • Finding beautiful images to accompany a presentation.
  • Finding powerful and inspiring videos.

Here is what we absolutely will not use it for:

  • We will not use it to write anything. As a public relations agency, we are all writers, and we would never use it to draft a press release, pitch, or article.

The reality is that AI is like building businesses and ideas only using your head, but the juice comes from your heart and intuition. Olive is fueled by intuition and creativity, but we are all about working smart and we will absolutely continue to maximize the tools that are available to us just as we always have.

How are you integrating AI into your business?