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### PRSA Releases Updated Guidelines on Ethical Implementation of AI in Public Relations

The organization sees opportunity for PR pros to act as an “ethical conscience” and combat disinfor…

The Public Relations Society of America has recently published updated ethical guidelines to assist PR professionals in making well-informed and responsible decisions within the rapidly evolving realm of artificial intelligence.

AI presents a myriad of opportunities. In exploring these avenues, it is imperative to address the prevention of misuse, as highlighted by Michelle Egan, the head of PRSA in 2023.

Just a little over a year ago, ChatGPT was introduced. Since January of this year, Egan has noted substantial shifts in the perspectives of PRSA members regarding conceptual AI.

Egan reminisced on feedback she received, with individuals expressing sentiments like, “It seems like a shortcut.” However, they also acknowledged the advantage of leveraging such tools to enhance efficiency and dedicate more time to strategic thinking.

While acknowledging that this guidance may evolve alongside technological advancements, Egan remains vigilant about the scientific progress and potential risks associated with the future landscape.

With the upcoming U.S. election season, Egan foresees a surge in misinformation exacerbated by the rapid evolution of AI technologies, leading to increased societal fragmentation.

Nevertheless, she also acknowledges the pivotal role professionals play in driving substantial change.

“We have the opportunity to educate ourselves extensively on these issues, prepare proactively, and collaborate with other professions and executives.”

The methodology behind the formulation of these guidelines involved Egan’s consultation with boards to ascertain their primary focus for the year ahead, which overwhelmingly centered on addressing artificial intelligence, misinformation, and propaganda.

These new recommendations are rooted in PRSA’s foundational Code of Ethics, with the PRSA AI Workgroup, led by Linda Staley and comprising Cayce Myers, Holly Kathleen Hall, and Michele E. Ewing, instrumental in their development. The guidance, informed by expert consultations and insights from other entities, aligns closely with PRSA’s ethical framework.

The document systematically aligns each aspect of PRSA’s ethical code with AI considerations, highlighting potential misuses, risks, and ethical practices in AI utilization through a series of structured tables.

The issue of AI’s capacity to propagate misinformation and embed biases within algorithms is a critical focal point, according to Egan.

Acknowledging that these models are inherently influenced by human biases, Egan emphasizes the importance of ensuring proper credit attribution, fact-checking, and sourcing of AI-generated content.

The guidelines stress the necessity of verifying ownership of AI-generated content, emphasizing the inclusion of substantial human input alongside AI-generated material. “Always fact-check data generated by conceptual AI,” advises Egan. The responsibility for ensuring content authenticity and legality lies with the user, not the AI system.

Egan underscores the significance of continuous learning for both practitioners and organizations within the evolving landscape of AI technology.

In instances of irresponsible practices, it is crucial to voice concerns and abstain from endorsing such behaviors. PR professionals are positioned to act as the moral compass throughout the development and utilization of AI technologies.

Looking ahead, Egan reflects on the rapid evolution of perspectives within the PRSA community regarding conceptual AI since the introduction of ChatGPT just over a year ago.

While some initially viewed these tools as a form of cheating, acknowledging the efficiency boost they provide, Egan anticipates ongoing evolution in guidance and resources. Amidst the scientific advancements, she remains vigilant about the potential risks on the horizon.

As the U.S. enters an election season, the proliferation of misinformation driven by the swift progress in AI technologies is a pressing concern. However, Egan remains optimistic about the transformative influence professionals can wield.

“We have the opportunity to educate ourselves extensively on these issues, prepare proactively, and collaborate with other professions and executives.”

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Last modified: February 23, 2024
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