ETHICS AND A.I: THE DILEMMA FACING THE PR PRACTITIONER

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By Anthony Olabode Ayodele (Chart.PR)

Like other disciplines advanced via the digital age Artificial Intelligence is gradually becoming deeply embedded in Public Relations. As the discourse regarding the prevalence of A.I grows there is a need to increasingly examine the need for sound ethical practices regarding it. What we consider worthwhile in establishing an Artificial Intelligence API for (simply put, a platform of A set of tools that determines how software for a particular programme interact with each other to accomplish a given task) in most cases, is what is required and in demand - seeing the task in itself requiring duplication.

Artificial Intelligence tools, despite whoever uses them, must be ethical. The onus and burden of who is responsible if something goes wrong with their application in PR is gradually shifting from the doorstep of the manufacturer of the programme - alone - to that of the Media/PR Practitioner responsible for the A.I tool’s usages.

Let’s, for instance, look at the controversy that ensued during the last US Open held at Flush Meadows between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. A follow up decision to determine an A.I tool that could determine penalties in tennis matches along the lines of the decisions taken by the tennis court judge, Ramos Carson, could generate controversial results; due the ethical nature of certain decisions surrounding the match. Carson had, based on a thumbs up signal by Serena William’s Coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, ruled that the tennis star had been ‘coached’; an aspect of tennis that requires ‘communication’ of ‘instructions’ between coach and player.

The coach agreed he made the signal, but Serena argued that she wasn’t looking at her coach; had not seen the signal, and wasn’t ‘coached’. Judge Ramos did not actually establish communication between player and coach; he just established a signal. Since the coach didn’t shout, there is doubt a thumbs up would communicate anything meaningful during a fast-paced tennis match. It coincided with her turnaround point – when Serena was trying to rally back from behind against her opponent; any irritation or loss of concentration on her part at that point could hinder and break her resolve to do so. An A.I programme based on such a decision could detect signals similar to Coach Patrick Mouratoglou’s own. But applying the rule in the same manner as Judge Carson would be an unethical application since anyone could deliberately ‘signal’ to scuttle a tennis players’ chances.

Here is a working guide on what could help when it comes to what is ethically accepted in A.I and PR:

1) Will it stand the PR panel test? Or would there be wild controversies like in the example stated.

2) Is it fair to all? Would the manner A.I is used in, in each instance, be considered fair?

3) Would it endanger lives? Are human lives safe and protected by the application of the A.I programmes?

4) Does it give unfair advantage to one party? Is another party put at a disadvantage as a result of the A.I programme?

5) Can it be used in a vice-versa manner (The vice-versa rule)? Would the user of an A.I programme want it to be applied in the same manner regarding him or her?

The full article on the topic can be viewed on the author’s personal blog here

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