Núria Vilanova, in La República: “Building trust in the age of AI”

La República, one of Colombia’s most important economic and financial newspapers, published the latest opinion piece by ATREVIA’s president, Núria Vilanova, titled “Building Trust in the Age of AI.” Throughout history, the solution to the most demanding challenges has always been found in people. The response to the impact of disruptive processes associated with artificial intelligence (AI) will be no different. We need AI to overcome challenges like climate change, eradicate diseases, and improve productivity. However, technology itself causes concern due to the unknown extent of its effects and how companies utilize it.

For this reason, at the IV Ibero-American Congress on Trends in Marketing, Communication, and Public Affairs held in Madrid, we addressed the challenge of building trust in the age of AI. Let’s see what we’re up against. The evolution of media in recent decades is characterized by selective news consumption, lower participation rates, and low levels of trust. Against traditional media emerge new channels, platforms, and ways of consuming information that propose different storytelling approaches. This is evident in the success of platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

Everything has become shorter and more relative. It’s a tricky scenario for building trust. I’ll share some data from Johann Hari’s book ‘The Value of Attention.’ On average, we spend three hours and fifteen minutes a day on our phones and interact with them 2,617 times while only dedicating 17 minutes to reading a book. The more we use our phones, the more big tech companies profit. Their algorithms aim to keep us glued to the screen for as long as possible, even if it means consuming content that angers us because we’re more drawn to negative than positive news. As we’ve pointed out before, ‘fake news’ spreads six times faster than true stories.

Given this reality, we need to shift our focus. We know social media leaders won’t give up their ‘power to capture our attention.’ They won’t set limits on their business model or self-regulate. They’ll continue to exploit our weaknesses so that, while using networks, we think we’re making our own decisions, even if they’re guiding or determining them for us.

Despite this technological landscape’s unease, we must be more human than ever. Commitment, impact, sustainability, and purpose should underpin our stance on AI use. It’s time to integrate AI into our projects and organizations, always from an informed and strategic perspective. And we mustn’t forget that people need safe environments.

Because not everything goes. AI and its practical application can never violate or supersede fundamental rights. We need a set of rules for everyone, regulators with legitimate origins, and legislation backed by advanced democracies. We must move from the 18th-century enlightened humanism to the 21st-century digital humanism.

Unfortunately, we’re witnessing the consequences of placing too much trust in technology. As the former director of the Spanish intelligence service, General Sanz Roldán, reminded us, “Israel bet on the best defensive technology, but in war, as in life, people still matter a lot. Despite AI advances, we still need spies to prevent attacks”. To this statement, we must add that we also need leaders capable of listening and promoting solutions. Because building trust in the age of AI still comes down to people. That’s the key.”

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