Five Questions with WE

Jean Valin

Principal,
Valin Strategic Communications

Jean Valin is a trusted senior advisor in public relations, an author, editor and mentor. He founded Valin Strategic Communications after a 30-year career as a senior communication executive. He has advised senior officials, CEOs and ministers of the Government of Canada on communication matters throughout his career. He is a frequent speaker at international conferences on the role of public relations, ethical practice, transparency in a social media connected world, artificial intelligence and automation.

What should brands consider with the advancement of AI?

The ‘echo chamber,’ where algorithms tend to replicate and don’t provide enough nuance or insights to what is out there; hence, the analysis is skewed and shouldn’t automatically be trusted. It also doesn’t offer us alternative or contrary points of view. That is scary for our democracy.

Ethics is another obvious area. As AI technology is developed, the process should be transparent and subject to input and criticism by those who may consider using it. Bias can be easy to build in and not so easy to weed out, especially when dealing with a global campaign where cultural factors and context can vary greatly.

How will audiences interact with brands as AI use increases?

The road ahead for all customer-focused organizations is through voice assistants or chatbots. This interaction must be human-like, with a dose of empathy that is real (not canned or robotic). There is, however, a non-AI aspect to how brands will thrive. Brands must find a social purpose beyond profit to connect with customers.

How do you predict AI will make your life easier?

AI could be a tool that summarizes complex and lengthy reports, analyzes trends and provides specific insights on the audiences I’m interested in researching. A bonus for me would be if AI technology could write reports on any given topic and provide footnotes to verify sources and veracity.

How do you stay current on trends in AI?

I read what the World Economic Forum publishes on AI and the future of jobs and skills. I also subscribe to the Bernard Marr newsletter on technology and AI.

What app can’t you live without?

Twitter. It’s my main news source and allows me to connect with broader communities of interest.

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“As AI technology is developed, the process should be transparent and subject to input and criticism.”
Jean Valin

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