As artificial intelligence continues to spread across the digital landscape, it's creating some interesting conundrums for businesses and brands that use it. On the one hand, AI programs are revolutionizing everything from healthcare to marketing by speeding up different processes and delivering substantial results in no time at all.
On the other hand, as AI becomes more prolific, it puts various jobs at risk. Also, because of the way these programs operate, there are serious questions about data collection and privacy violations.
At the moment, AI programs aren't being reigned in, but that could change in the near future. For that reason (among others), it's imperative for companies to use their software as ethically as possible. But the question becomes, "How do we do that?" While it's hard to say how AI will develop and evolve in the long term, we'll go over some best practices to keep in mind.
Why Ethics Matters When Using AI for Marketing
For now, AI is seen as the Next Big Thing, and there's a rush to develop new software as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there are some glaring issues with current artificial intelligence models that could affect how a company uses them ethically, such as:
The Black Box Problem
With a traditional program, it's easy to go in and see how the code works because it was all written and developed by people. So, if the results of a particular task are skewed or incorrect, a programmer can go in and fix the code to remedy the problem.
With AI, however, the program does the work without human oversight, so it's not always clear how the software accomplished a task or came up with an answer. That lack of transparency means it's much harder for programmers to identify issues and correct them in the future. Even telling the AI that the answer is wrong doesn't necessarily mean it won't mess up again.
Data is everywhere on the internet, and much of it is open and available to anyone who can find it. However, privacy concerns are becoming even more prevalent, especially as technology permeates every facet of modern life.
Typically, AI programs scour the internet for information about a topic to generate a result. Whether it's a new program, a piece of AI art, or a blog post, the AI only knows as much as it can find. Also, given the black box problem, it's not always clear where this data came from and whether it was obtained ethically.
One of the most significant setbacks of modern AI technology is that it can sometimes come up with blatantly incorrect information. A user could ask the AI a question and receive a wrong answer, or the software could incorporate untrue information into its final product.
These hallucinations can be damaging, particularly if they're published without verification. In a worst-case scenario, one AI program could post incorrect data, which is then scrubbed and repurposed by another AI program, and so on. Over time, it becomes impossible to trace the source of the misinformation, and it may be impossible to update or correct the data after the fact.
Humans are naturally biased, and AI is created by humans, so it makes sense that AI programs share similar biases compared to their creators. While data bias from AI is technically benign and not malicious, it can still lead to real-world problems. For example, individuals from specific backgrounds may have resumes or applications denied, meaning they have a much harder chance of getting hired by businesses that use AI sorting software.
How to Use AI Ethically in Marketing Campaigns
Although AI is hugely helpful for many marketing tasks, it's far from perfect. So, implementing these best practices can help your business avoid some of the larger issues plaguing these programs.
Seek Consent When Collecting User Data
Thanks to the European Union, all websites have to ask visitors if they're okay with accepting cookies and trackers from the site itself, as well as third-party programs. If a visitor objects, they can deny all cookies or pick and choose which ones are okay. Similar privacy protections are being drafted, and more consumers are worried about the type and amount of data that companies and AI programs collect.
So, to avoid any issues, it's best to notify visitors to your site and landing pages that their information may be collected. Most importantly, an individual must be able to opt out. This way, you can be sure your own data is sourced ethically, even if you use AI programs to capture and analyze it.
Double Check Content Before It's Published
Given the prevalence of hallucinations and the "black box problem," companies can't take AI-generated content at face value. Someone with expertise or research experience must be able to verify all claims before a content piece gets published.
Not only can posting incorrect or misleading information hurt the brand, but it can also exacerbate the larger issue by allowing other AI tools to scrape that data and reuse it.
Don't Replace High-Value Workers With AI
For a long time, AI was only designed to manage big data sets, as it was impossible to do this with human workers. However, now AI is starting to get creative (i.e., MidJourney or ChatGPT), and that raises some ethical questions.
Almost overnight, many businesses downsized or eliminated workers from their ranks, replacing them with AI software. Copywriters, concept artists, and graphic designers suddenly found themselves unemployed with no clear path forward.
While downsizing and restructuring are essential parts of running a business, it's not good to rush into anything. Yes, AI programs are great for a lot of things, but they're not an adequate replacement for an experienced or talented individual. Also, given the setbacks we've seen with artificial intelligence, there may never come a day when a program can replicate the human experience, no matter how advanced it seems.
Overall, when incorporating AI into your marketing strategy, it's best to figure out where these tools can work best and try to incorporate them as seamlessly as possible. While some downsizing may be necessary or unavoidable, it's still imperative to do the due diligence to see where or if cuts are necessary.
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