The topics covered in the three days at Collision in Toronto, Canada last week offered a glimpse into big emerging marketing, communication, and societal trends and issues. Artificial intelligence (AI) dominated the conference, with the fast adoption of generative AI setting the tone for most of the discussions. The technology is pushing us to reimagine how we can create and work better, but it is also raising questions about how we should move forward as a society. Our team has chosen three areas that we believe marketers should think about as technologies such as generative AI proliferates.

Creativity, productivity and authenticity – AI as your co-pilot

For creators and marketers, instead of worrying about whether AI would replace their jobs, they are focusing on learning to use the technology well.

Tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney have already proven to be useful for brainstorming ideas and testing concepts. These tools are not replacing human creativity but enabling creators to play with more ideas at scale.

What AI or any technology cannot do now, and unlikely ever will, is helping brands and creators find their purpose. As Sairah Ashman, CEO of Wolff Olins put it, “Brand should stand for something.” And creators agree. Kelly Rutherford of Whyzzer said, “[If we just follow trends], we are all puppets. We need to have a purpose. We need nourishing content.”

That sense of purpose will serve brands and creators well to stay authentic in front of discerning and demanding consumers. This is especially true with respect to Gen Z, who demand authenticity and relatability perhaps more than any other generation and who are poised to be the most powerful consumer group by 2025. Brands must work with AI, not against it, to ensure they are putting their purpose at the heart of everything they do.

Media working with technologies to defend democracy

As communicators, we are paying close attention to how upcoming technology and AI are affecting how journalists will work moving forward. Journalists are exploring ways to gain productivity with emerging tech like generative AI. However, they are also setting guidelines and demonstrating transparency to preserve their journalistic integrity.

If we agree that journalism is the bedrock of democracy, we have an urgent need to raise the level of media literacy across the board. We must educate the public to better understand how journalists work and how misinformation can impact society. This is about ensuring the public can think critically of the information they consume.

With the speed at which AI generates content and social media platforms that reach a collective mass, we need new guiding principles to combat errors and misinformation. Recognizing and countering when AI is being used to cause harm will be one the foundational pieces needed for democracy to thrive.

Sustainability as a competitive advantage

As corporations start to embrace AI and other emerging technologies as part of their technology infrastructure, they must also take into sustainability requirements into account. Sita Chantramonklasri, of Siam Capital, encouraged organizations to change the narrative of sustainability from concession to competitive advantage. She believed heightened consumer consciousness of sustainability issues would become a major driving force for change, in addition to regulatory pressures.

Right now, many large corporations are relying on startups to help drive innovation and improve efficiency.  As technology infrastructures evolve,  auditability will become incredibly critical for driving greater sustainability as more organizations will be pressed to achieve carbon neutral status.

AI and other emerging technologies will continue to evolve quickly and consumers, corporations, and the media are responding to these changes. One thing we know for sure: we have a shared responsibility to make technologies serve humanity or we risk facing consequences of our own decisions.