In several of my past recent posts:
The “AI Crisis”: Who Is Responsible?
State and Federal Internet ID Age Requirements Are Hell-Bent on Turning the Internet Into a Chinese-Style Internet Nightmare
Giving Creators and Websites Control Over Generative AI
and others in various venues, I have expressed concerns over the “perfect storm” that is now circling “Big Tech” from both sides of the political spectrum, with both Republicans and Democrats proposing (sometimes jointly, sometimes in completely opposing respects) “solutions” to various Internet-related issues — with some of these issues being real, and others being unrealistically hyped.
The latest flash point is AI — Artificial Intelligence — especially what’s called generative AI — publicly seen mainly as so-called AI chatbots.
I’m not going to repeat the specifics of my discussions on these various topics here, except in one respect.
For many (!) years I have asserted that these Big Tech firms (notably Google, but the others as well to one degree or another) have been negligently deficient in their public communications, failing to adequately assure that ordinary non-technical people — and the politicians that they elect — understand the true nature of these technologies.
This means both the positive and negative aspects of tech. But the important point is that the public needs to understand the reality of these systems, and not be misguided by misinformation and often politically-biased disinformation that fill the information vacuum left by these firms, often out of a misguided and self-destructive fear of so-called “Streisand Effects”, which the firms are afraid will occur if they mention these issues in any depth.
It is clear that such fears have done continuing damage to these firms over the years, while robust public communications and public education — not looking down at people, but helping them to understand! — could have instead done enormous good.
I’ve long called for the hiring of “ombudspersons” or liaisons — or whatever you want to call them — to fill these important, particular communications roles. These need to be dedicated roles for this purpose.
The situation has become so acute that it may now be necessary to have roles specific to AI-related public communications to help avoid the worst of the looming public relations and political catastrophes, that could decimate the positive aspects of these systems, and over time seriously damage the firms themselves.
But far more importantly, it’s society at large that will inevitably suffer when politics and fear win out over a true understanding of these technologies — how they actually impact our world in a range of ways — again, both positive and negative, both now and into the future.
The firms need to do this now. Right now. All of the greatest engineering in the world will not save them (and us!) if their abject public communications failures continue as they have to date.