WASHINGTON, DC — Communicators need to be prepared to lose control of messaging as AI takes hold, the PRovokeGlobal 2023 Summit heard today.

Jeremiah Owyang, partner at Blitzscaling Ventures, told delegates that in his 27 years in Silicon Valley he had never experienced a tech development like AI. Putting the growth into context, he revealed that whilst Netflix took years to achieve 1m users and Twitter, Facebook and Spotify took 1,500 days, Chat GPT achieved 1m users in five days and now has more than 100m users globally.

“Yes there are upsides for communicators, we can reduce content costs and provide mass personalisation at scale,” he said. “But humans will rely on AI and the AI is going to get the information and make the decisions. That’s something communicators had control over, now you’re going to lose that control.”

If comms professionals aren’t already experimenting with pilots, such creating a style guide for prompts to generate content in keeping with the brand’s style, tone and voice, they’re behind the curve, he said.

AI is already generating 15% of content created by a leading global pharma company, according to Owyang. 

“Fight fire with fire. You as communicators must build your own AI agents,” Owyang urged.
In an energetic presentation to a panel comprising of Gloria Vanderham, CEO of Bliss BioHealth and Bill Jewell, CIO at the US Chamber of Commerce, Owyang asserted that AI search engine perplexity.ai was ‘the Google-killer’ and stated it would end the ‘abusive relationship’ we all have with Google search.

"A lot of people are concerned about hallucinations and accurate content – that’s going to be gone in 12 months thanks to tools like this which enable real-time info and provide citations to actual sources," he said.

The selection of stories the tool uses is a ‘black box’, and Owyang said this had dramatic implications for how comms professionals manage SEO, which is ‘no longer relevant in AI’.
Vandeham said that AI would continue ‘a really exciting time in healthcare’ but cautioned that ‘from my perspective, it’s all about human judgement’.

And Jewell added: “AI is going to replace some parts of brain power but brains do a lot of different things. AI doesn’t replace judgement yet.

"The tool will create content but ultimately we are responsible for it, you can’t deliver something that has errors in the analysis and say ‘oh it’s the AI’."

Following an executive order from President Joe Biden released earlier this week, Jewell confirmed the Chamber of Commerce is enabling AI, with some concerns around privacy and security.

And whilst AI has the power to combat misinformation, it also brings the risk of deepfakes, an eventuality for which Owyang warned the audience all communicators must prepare their clients’ executive boards. "The cost of a deepfake is zero."

Both Vanderham and Jewell advised communicators to get started with AI now, rehearse and hone prompts, and push through the discomfort of getting to grips with it. 

"Get out there and try it, tinker, show resilience. The more you use it, the more intuitive it will become," Jewell said. 

Vanderham added: “You can’t learn to drive a car while in park. Start now.”