Communications Careers in the AI World Panel Discussion

Communications Careers in the AI World

On November 17, 2023, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Cultural Center at ACC hosted a Communications Careers in the AI World Panel Discussion discussing the world of AI and its impact on current and future communications careers. The panel was led by industry experts: 

  • Xiao Meng,¬†Data Scientist at General Motors
  • Carolyn Perez, Director of Communications for the Texas Permanent School Fund Corporation
  • Susan Meigs, Professor of Business, Government, & Technical Communication and Composition & Literary Studies, Austin Community College

In our hour-long Zoom conversation, our panelists discussed both the positives and negatives of AI in the current and future workplaces. We explored topics of ethics, tools, and integration of AI in our daily lives and communications careers.

Thoughtful excerpts from the panel discussion:

How can people best work with AI tools rather than feeling threatened by them?

“I think approaching it rather than feeling threatened, try to see them as tools that can possibly free your time up from having to do very tedious parts of certain jobs. I see it as something that could be an enhancement. But again, be aware of its flaws. Be aware that you double and triple fact-check to make sure the content, if you’re using content from it, that it is actually true. It has the potential to free up a lot of the drudgery part of the work and you can go onto more higher-level thinking and higher-level tasks.” – Carolyn Perez

In what ways do you see AI enhancing certain jobs within the communication field in the next decade?

“Calculators don’t make metacognition. I understand the concerns that faculty have about students sort of turning over to much of the activity of learning to [AI]. I see the importance of a using using [AI] for productivity, but also reminding students that the reasons that we write and read and think are not just to produce documents, they’re to practice the activities of training our brain to think critically, but it’s our job as educators to remind students, hey, there really is a value to doing some of the work yourself with the support and assistance of tools. But there’s a reason why we write things down and we think through ideas in writing because it trains our brain in ways that at least for now, we still find useful.” – Susan Meigs

In the era of Big Data, how do you address privacy concerns when gathering data, conducting analyses?

“As a data scientist, when we use data, we will be very careful. Especially data related to human beings. In every organization there will be a board to approve the use of this kind of data set…. We need to be careful about using it. And we also need to be very careful about releasing those kinds of data about yourself.” – Xiao Meng

What are some ways that an individual can take to diminish the negative impacts of AI?

“I think the best way to kind of inoculate ourselves against being displaced completely [by AI] is get very good at what machines can’t do…. If you’re a content producer, people can tell the difference between something that’s robot generated and human generated…. Learn how to use the tools because you don’t want to be displaced by somebody that is better at using them than you are. Just be flexible and try to always add value no matter where you’re working. Create value for your organization in whatever way you can.” – Carolyn Perez

Resources

Panelists

Xiao Meng

Xiao Meng

Xiao Meng is a Senior Data Scientist at General Motors. Prior to her role at GM, she imparted knowledge as a lecturer at the McCoy College of Business at Texas State University. Xiao’s expertise lies in applied econometrics, statistical modeling, economic forecasting, and empirical research on consumer choice and firm competition. She has over six years of dedicated research in these areas, a commitment reflected in her numerous publications in those fields. She holds both a B.A. and M.A. in Management from the Capital University of Economics and Business in China. Furthering her education, she achieved a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Pennsylvania State University in 2013.

Carolyn Perez

Carolyn Perez

Carolyn Perez serves as Director of Communications for the Texas Permanent School Fund Corporation (Texas PSF), a $56 billion-dollar sovereign wealth fund that supports Texas public schools. In this role, she manages branding, media relations, reputation management, and internal communications. Prior to joining Texas PSF in 2022, she was the Communications Director at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, where she led a team of twelve professionals responsible for media relations, social media, branding, and member engagement. Carolyn has held various communications roles, both in the public and private sectors, over the span of her 20+ year career. Her areas of expertise include developing impactful, strategic communications campaigns that resonate with the intended audiences, and with coaching senior executives to speak and write with clarity and purpose. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master’s degree in Business Communications, and a CFA Investment Foundations certificate.

Susan Meigs

Susan Meigs

Susan Meigs has over 40 years of experience teaching, marketing, writing, editing, and training. As a faculty member of Business, Government, & Technical Communications and Composition & Literary Studies at Austin Community College, she teaches technical writing, composition, and literature. She is also a faculty member at Cochise College in Arizona. Her academic interests include educational technology, writing pedagogy, and andragogy. With degrees from Florida State University and The University of Texas at Austin, Professor Meigs has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including a NISOD Teaching Excellence Award in 2020.

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