How AI Could Both Enhance and Undermine Effective Crisis Communication
Navigating the Dual Outcomes of AI on the Crisis Communicator's Toolkit
In this edition of the Wag The Dog Newsletter I try to look into the future of AI and Crisis Communication.
I enjoy horizon scanning and trend analysis because they help us take a break from our daily routine and consider what could happen in the future. A kind of extended situational analysis, as you might say.
So, inspired by a post I read from the always excellent Ethan Mollick, who applied the STEEP model to AI’s impact on labour, I did the same for AI and crisis communication.
Enjoy the read and let me know which “future scenario” you would prefer!
What is the STEEP framework?
STEEP provides a framework to systematically analyse your environment and think about upcoming changes that could impact your business or industry. It forces you to go beyond the day-to-day business and take a broader perspective.
The acronym STEEP stands for social, technological, economic, environmental, and political factors. By going through each of these areas, you can recognise trends, discontinuities, and driving forces that could shape the future.
In the social area, you consider how demographic change, new cultural norms or the development of public opinion could have an impact. What generational changes do you foresee? How could social values change?
Technological factors require the observation of probable technological innovations and breakthroughs. Are there new interfaces, analytics, or automation tools that could transform your industry?
Economic considerations include macroeconomic trends in growth, policy, spending patterns, and more. How might upcoming recessions or regional instabilities change the landscape?
Environmental issues such as climate change and sustainability are becoming increasingly important. How might growing environmental awareness affect your organisation or sector?
And political dynamics, from changing governments to new regulations, also need to be anticipated. What political or administrative changes might you face?
By systematically examining these five areas, STEEP provides a proactive way to look at alternative futures, identify risks and opportunities, and test your strategies.
From STEEP to a 2X2 Matrix
When moving from STEEP to a 2x2 scenario matrix, the most important uncertainties are first identified from the general trends of STEEP, focusing on the uncertainties with high unpredictability and impact.
Then two critical uncertainties are selected based on their relevance and independence, e.g. "Advancement of AI Technology" and "Level of Trust in AI" in the AI context.
Future scenarios are then developed based on a 2x2 matrix with axes representing opposite extremes.
This is what our exercise gives us as potential scenarios.
High Trust, Advanced AI ("Seamless Communication"):
In this scenario, AI is trustworthy and technologically advanced, leading to efficient and effective crisis communication. Indicators of this could be high public approval of AI in crisis communication and successful case studies on the use of AI in crises.
High Trust, Basic AI ("Human-AI Partnership"):
Here, AI is trusted but not very advanced. Humans and AI work together in crisis communication, with AI analysing the data and humans making the final decisions. Indicators could include measures that promote collaboration between humans and AI and ensure a balanced use of AI and human resources in crisis communication.
Low Trust, Advanced AI ("Distrust in Technology"):
Despite advanced AI capabilities, there is a lack of trust in AI. This could lead to AI not being sufficiently utilised in crisis communication. Indicators of this could be a negative public opinion towards AI and regulations that restrict the use of AI in crisis communication.
Low Trust, Basic AI ("Human Dominance"):
In this scenario, both trust in AI and AI technology is low, leading to a dominance of human-led crisis communications. Indicators could include a preference for human-led crisis communication and limited investment in AI for crisis communication.
So, what do you think? Which future scenario is most realistic to you? Have your say below.
What do you think will be the future?
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What I am reading/testing/checking out:
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A Quick Note on How I Create Content for Wag The Dog
As you know, I'm passionate about AI and its applications in the fields of PR and crisis communication. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I use AI to help draft my articles.
Why? Well, for starters, English isn't my first language. While I'm comfortable with it, AI gives me that extra edge to ensure clarity and coherence. Secondly, I write about AI, so what better way to understand its capabilities than to use it in my own work?
I value transparency, so it's crucial for you to know that although AI assists me in drafting, I personally review and edit each article to guarantee its authenticity.
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