Crisis Communications, AI and the Future

November 01, 2023
By iQ Staff
robots and human lifting barbell

We’ve been doing a lot of crisis work at iQ 360 in recent months. Locked in a calculating mindset, we play a high-stakes chess game from the moment we wake up until we somehow manage to fall asleep at night.

Parallel to this, we’ve witnessed the introduction of AI to many of the tools traditionally associated with crisis management planning and communications. AI-supercharged software that can process terabytes of data in seconds comes in very handy for companies trying to assess sentiment, see around corners and ultimately safeguard value.

To understand the speed and scale at which all of this is advancing, researchers predict that AI developers will run out of high-quality language data by 2026. We know that very soon, AI will be integrated into many aspects of our lives in such a way that we won’t even notice it, much like the internet now.

We can’t help but wonder, what will the future of crisis communications look like? It’s difficult to imagine that human refinement of AI output goes away entirely, but how does the human factor change over time?

Young professionals may have their entire careers colored by large language models and predictive analytics. How will these crisis communicators of the future know who or what to trust? How will they identify disinformation if risk analysis is delegated to machines? How will hackable AI software navigate cybersecurity hacks?

While we may not be able to answer these questions now, we can look at how some of these tools are currently being used to understand where we are in this evolution. Effective and sensible applications of modern AI tools include social media sentiment analysis, document review, scenario planning and derivative AI to extend messages to new audiences.

All that said, we still need critical human thought for complex situations such as guiding a strategic response policy to a pandemic’s impact on an airline or hotel chain, telling us when and if remote workers will decide they want to return to the traditional model of commuting every day or helping steer America to a more efficient and equitable healthcare system.

 

"The truth is that, as of this writing, we are still a human-centric culture. Human beings in leadership positions are critical factors in any crisis scenario."

 

The truth is that, as of this writing, we are still a human-centric culture. Human beings in leadership positions are critical factors in any crisis scenario. If one of them has a sudden change of heart or a heart attack or fall from grace, all the calculations suddenly change. This is the point at which people who have managed many crises over many years step in, relying on imperfect memories, a deep understanding of human behavior and gambler’s instincts, to figure out the necessary course correction.

As AI becomes part and parcel of communications practice, how will these calculations change, especially for those practitioners who have never known a professional world without AI?

Time will tell.

 

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