In Case You Missed It: What makes an AI story worth talking about

Welcome toICYMI– a weekly snapshot of European news stories that have given me pause for thought. ICYMI is a chance for you to go beyond the front-page headlines and find out what other stories may be worthy of your attention. 

Focussing on a hot topic can help breathe new life into a tried and tested issue or technology, making it more relevant and appealing to the media. However, sometimes the topic becomes so hot that it’s all anybody is talking about, which makes standing out from the crowd that much more challenging. You may also start to see some resistance to “yet another” story on the topic. 

AI is one example of this. There is an awful lot of hype around AI but there are also significant developments and new applications of the technology that are worth talking about. The challenge for PR professionals is how to ensure the stories we tell fall into the latter category. Three recent stories stood out to me that help shine a light on this.  

The first relates to a fundamental aspect of how AI is trained and how different reactions to it can affect innovation and competitiveness. BNR’s piece discusses how the Dutch Authority for Personal Information has declared that data scraping is almost always illegal. However, wider European regulation does allow personal data to be used for training AI in many cases. As a result, the Dutch move to prioritise privacy could significantly harm organisations’ ability to develop and adopt AI the country, with businesses in other regions playing under different rules.  

Handelsblatt’s article about Creance, a joint venture between PwC and German startup Aleph Alpha, highlights an interesting real-word application of AI that can ‘end bureaucratic madness. It is interesting on one level because the venture itself promises to help businesses manage regulatory complexity by using AI to interpret large volumes of data. But the business model is also noteworthy. Here, the startup is not selling their product or service to a customer; they are instead forming a strategic partnership to develop the technology and instantly benefitting from PwC’s brand recognition and expertise. 

The final story speaks to the concerns we all have around the technology, which is put into sharp focus when countries and, in this case, continents, go to the polls. Les Echos reported that last weekend’s European elections were being played out in a charged geopolitical context and at a time when generative AI offers new tools for disinformation. Data from Sensity AI also highlighted how political leaders are the most affected by online disinformation campaigns (40%), far ahead of celebrities (30%) and businesses (20%). 

So what can we learn from these stories? Each one of them speaks to a higher and far more important concern than the core story would suggest. The BNR piece is not a story about a piece of legislation that has been passed, it’s really about innovation and competitiveness. The Handelsblatt article isn’t a simple reporting of a new joint venture, it’s about solving real problems in new and interesting ways. And the Les Echos piece isn’t about AI scaremongering, it’s about fundamental questions our society must get right.