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Sam Altman’s bold prediction about the impact of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) on the marketing field has stirred the waters, propelling a wave of reactions across our industry. The statement that “95% of what marketers use agencies, strategists, and creative professionals for today will easily, nearly instantly, and at almost no cost be handled by AI” is not just a forecast; it’s a call for both deep introspection and swift action.

The Two Camps: Arrogance vs. Fear

In my conversations over this past year with fellow marketing and communications professionals about AI and its potential impact on the profession, I’ve encountered two dominant themes. The first is a defiant belief in the irreplaceability of human creativity and experience. This perspective, while admirable for its confidence, often strikes me as either overly arrogant or dangerously naive. In the rapidly evolving landscape of AI, holding on to the idea that “I am amazing at what I do and no machine will ever do better” is akin to standing on the tracks as the technology train speeds forward. It’s not a question of if it will overtake you, but when – I’m sorry to say this so bluntly, but there is no value in sugar coating the truth.

The second theme is one of fear and uncertainty, an understandable reaction to the prospect of machines taking over tasks humans have held dear. This concern echoes Sam Altman’s own acknowledgments about the potential for significant job loss and societal upheaval as AI evolves potentially faster than humans can adapt. It’s a scenario that, while challenging, opens up dialogues about the future role of humans in a technology-driven world. I fall into this category at times and always feel the need to actively take myself out of it through a deliberate focus on a more positive future – the natural optimist in me makes this fairly easy; I can imagine that for the natural pessimists, this is a more difficult task. 

A Third Way: The AI Pragmatist

Between these two extremes lies a path I advocate for: the AI Pragmatist. This stance navigates between unbridled enthusiasm for AI’s potential and doom-laden forecasts of AI’s threats. 

An AI Pragmatist harbors a balanced view, characterized by a healthy skepticism, a measure of fear, but also a robust hope and enthusiasm for the future. We recognize that the tidal wave of AI is inevitable, yet we choose to focus on how we can adapt, evolve, and ride this wave to our advantage.

Being an AI Pragmatist means thinking deeply about our roles today and envisioning how they might transform tomorrow. It involves a commitment to developing the skills needed to thrive in an AI-dominated landscape: adaptability, problem-solving, empathy, collaboration, critical thinking, and innovativeness. Above all, it requires a fierce dedication to lifelong learning, ensuring we remain flexible and ready to pivot as new opportunities and challenges arise.

Three Pieces of Advice for the Road Ahead

As we chart our course through this changing terrain, here are three pieces of advice for every marketing and communications professional:

  • Acknowledge the Fear but Don’t Let It Consume You: It’s natural to feel apprehensive about the future, especially with predictions as bold as Altman’s. Use this fear as a catalyst to propel you forward, to explore new horizons, but ensure it doesn’t paralyze you. The future belongs to those who face their fears with action.
  • Invest in AI Literacy: Understanding AI is no longer optional; it’s a prerequisite for staying relevant. Dive into the technologies shaping our industry, from the basics of machine learning to the nuances of natural language processing. Being caught off-guard is not an option when change is the only constant.
  • Cherish Your Humanity: In a world increasingly governed by algorithms, the qualities that make us human—creativity, empathy, intuition—become our most precious assets. These are the traits that AI cannot replicate, at least not in the foreseeable future. Cultivate them, for they will be your beacon in the AI era.

The future may be uncertain, but it is also ripe with opportunity. As marketing and communications professionals, our task is not to resist the tide of change but to learn how to navigate it with skill and foresight. By adopting the mindset of an AI Pragmatist, we position ourselves not just to survive but to thrive in the dynamic landscape that lies ahead.

You got this – but if you need some help – I am here for you, so don’t hesitate to reach out! 



Embracing the Future: The Path of the AI Pragmatist in Marketing and Communications

Peter Pilarski

Peter Pilarski

Peter is an experienced strategist in brand reputation and digital marketing, specializing in tourism, hospitality, and service sectors. He stands out by harnessing AI and taking a holistic approach to elevate your brand. As President of CIPR Communications, he's earned recognition and collaborates with top digital marketing experts. Peter's foundation is data-driven strategies, tailored to businesses of all sizes. Beyond work, he enjoys family time, conquering nature's trails, and staying fit through boxing. Peter is always open to connecting with like-minded professionals.