Responsible AI: Why everyone in tech comms should be part of the conversation

Responsible AI: Why everyone in tech comms should be part of the conversation

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

Every day, I see headlines filled with stories on AI regulation. This fast-paced conversation has left government bodies unsure about the rules they should implement. The UK has proposed decentralised models, while the US has engaged tech leaders in discussions on AI safety and security. Meanwhile, the EU has introduced the AI Act.

The discussion on AI regulation is far from over—it's just getting started. If you work in tech comms, it's crucial that you have a voice in this conversation. If you haven't been involved yet, now is the time to join in.

Innovation speed like no other

The UK Prime Minister opened London Tech Week stating it’s “time to act – and act fast.” This want for speed is with a view to have the UK lead on growth and investment in technology. But for this to happen in a way that’s good for the world, the discussion around the guardrails for AI must be just as fast and just as continual as the development of the technology itself.

Also, at London Tech Week, Microsoft UK's CEO, Clare Barclay, touched on speed. She took to the stage and opened with ‘by the time I finish with this keynote, much of what I’ve said will be outdated. That’s how fast innovation is in this space’. She pulled up a slide that really hammered home the impact and speed of generative AI disruption, showing adoption of new technology and its speed. It took Spotify 4.5 years to get to 100 million users, it took Instagram 2.5 years to reach the same milestone, and for TikTok it was nine months. Chat GPT? It took only two months to achieve 100 million users. That level of uptake illustrates how prevalent this technology is, and how no industry is untouched.

Ethical issues

Clare also referenced Microsoft’s responsible AI principles – fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability – making the particularly significant point that these are continually reviewed and updated. 

There is a huge ecosystem around generative AI – from the firms developing new applications of AI, to companies providing the tools and the means, as well as the range of organisations deploying generative AI technology. With such huge ramifications on jobs as well as the use of people’s data, every application of generative AI spotlights potential ethical issues, so responsible AI must be discussed openly and through a range of viewpoints. Whether you’re from a large organisation at the forefront of the innovation, or a small firm developing a specific use case for generative AI, all voices must be heard.

The rise of ‘AI washing’

You’ve probably heard of ‘green washing’, well, ‘AI washing’ has the same connotations. Essentially, it’s organisations claiming their offering involves AI technology when the use of AI is minimal. There’s been backlash and fatigue around AI product announcements, and the same will happen on this AI regulation conversation if people wade in with something ‘vanilla’.

My advice is to determine a point of view that highlights your (or your company’s) unique perspective. It can also help to point out elements that have yet to be discussed – maybe small in the grand scheme of things, but important for your industry. Of course, communication professionals love for leaders to have controversial opinions, but in the discussions around regulation that may not be appropriate.

So, whilst AI innovation continues at pace, and regulation struggles to keep up, the need to harness the power of AI responsibly and ethically is a priority for us all. Open discussion, where multiple views are taken into consideration, is how we get there faster.

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