Maxim Behar on the ethical use of artificial intelligence in "One more thing with Flora" on BNT TV

Host (Flora Stratieva): There has been an increase in the usage of AI and technology among PR professionals in order to improve the work and achieve more impactful results.Precisely because artificial intelligence is becoming more widespread in the PR industry, it is important to establish rules and guidelines to ensure its ethical and responsible use. But what should they be - that's what we will talk to PR expert Maxim Behar about. Good morning.

Maxim Behar: Good morning.

Host: How quickly is artificial intelligence entering your field? It was said that PR would be the first affected.

Maxim: I don’t know whether this increase is quick or slow. I would say it depends on how much trust my colleagues put into it. However, I feel like it’s already becoming a predominant part of our work, especially when it comes to writing texts or doing graphic design. We’re relying on it a lot and that is why we held a World PR Congress a month ago in Warsaw. I am still on the executive board of the global PR organization ICCO and together with my colleagues we’re trying to establish principles on how to govern the ethical use of AI in terms of copyright. In this case, transparency is everything. All that has a clear purpose and reason is ethical, as I’ve been saying for years. The product of everything we do should be publicly visible and therefore publicly scrutinized. Regardless, AI has brought us new concerns which are mainly related to copyright and the credibility of information.

Host: To what extent can the use of artificial intelligence be transparent to the ordinary consumer? Not everyone can distinguish with the naked eye the use of artificial intelligence yet. There must be some guidelines. How do you imagine it?

Maxim: There could be some guidelines, although I cannot imagine it happening from a practical point of view. It seems, that there would have to be a great deal of public scrutiny of whether the information in question is reliable. Some of these rules that we adopted in Warsaw are about credibility and assurance. Years ago, there was no guarantee that a PR company or a PR expert could create truthful content. At the end of the day, we are controlled by our readers, by our viewers, and by those who use this information. If a colleague or an expert is found to be using information that is not rightfully theirs or not true then their whole public image is ruined.

Host: You touched on a very interesting topic with copyright. When a piece of content is created by artificial intelligence, someone else has reprogrammed it to create it. Where does copyright come to play?

Maxim: The person who created it is the copyright holder. This is regulated by international conventions and laws. The point is not to use it without the knowledge of the one who generated it. Somebody can use artificial intelligence and generate content without being aware that he is not actually the copyright holder. But these are legal issues that should not concern us so much. The Bulgarian Association of PR Agencies BAPRA is the first in the world to adopt the Warsaw rules as its own. Now how it will work in practice nobody knows. We have yet to see.


Two months ago, I wrote an email to all my colleagues in the company. I told them not to worry about artificial intelligence taking their places. However, those PR experts who know how to work with AI will take their places. We must work with artificial intelligence. We must understand it and we must be aware that natural intelligence is still in the lead.

Host: You see understanding would relate to the fact that artificial intelligence has inevitably entered many industries, not just PR. Have people adapted to work with it rather than against it?

Maxim: We all work with AI there's no way we can work against it. But again, you drive a car, you have a traffic light, and you must stop. You must have a driver's license. When you get a flat tire, you must change it. Making that comparison is a bit of figurative thinking. Yes, you use artificial intelligence, you must check it. I.e., artificial intelligence can gather information from Google in a more advanced way. Yet, we still have to check the credibility of this information. Therefore, if we are not copyright holders, we should inform the latter that we are using the fruits of their work. Such are the details of our business. What is more important is that we do all this transparently under the scrutiny of our customers, our colleagues, and most of all the public. There is nothing scary about artificial intelligence helping us. It is helping us, and it will help us more and more. We need to know how to use it.

Host: Will this take the creativity and fun out of art?

Maxim: Yes and no. I think it will support creativity. When you use artificial intelligence and you see that it can create a good product, you might get jealous. I think that all of this will support business development and creativity. Ultimately, it will help people be more informed and educated. I know a lot of people who say they ban their kids from Facebook or Instagram. They think it's a waste of time. It's not knowledge. However, you can learn a word or a sentence that can change your day. That's why I think that artificial intelligence will gather all this information in a good way so that we have more knowledge and more information.

Host: One of the principles you've prefaced is fact-checking and fighting misinformation. What do we do about misinformation? Isn't it going to increase with the advent and wider penetration of artificial intelligence?

Maxim: I personally think we are doing nothing. We don't have the tools to check whether information is true or not. There are a few companies that do this of course, but in my opinion not so successfully yet. Look not far from Bulgaria two wars are being fought right now. One is in the Middle East the other is in Ukraine. And in the end, there are two parallel wars. There is the war with tanks, missiles, and guns, the other is the communication war. And I  don’t see any winners in this communication war. Misinformation has totally taken over all types of media around the world. We must be very careful. This depends on natural intelligence, not on artificial intelligence. It all depends on knowing where to pick your sources and how to compare them.

Host: I like the thought about natural intelligence, and I think we'll end with that.

You can watch the whole interview here.

You can also watch the whole interview on youtube.

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