The Ethics of AI in Marketing: A Conversation with CEO Kate Bradley Chernis

This issue features an interview with Kate Bradley Chernis, CEO of, regarding her take on AI ethics and marketing. It's a matter of intention, she says.

Credit: Paul Chaney / Originally posted on AI Marketing Ethics Digest

I know I should probably talk about Sam Altman’s ouster as OpenAI CEO and the subsequent maelstrom that erupted — but everyone’s doing that. I’ll deal with it in next week’s issue from an AI marketing ethics perspective. You won’t want to miss it!

This issue, we focus on an interview I conducted with Kate Bradley Chernis, the Founder & CEO of, a lead-gen social selling platform that learns any brand or employee voice, takes all of their content, and turns it into targeted, effective social media posts. Chernis shares her unique take on AI ethics and marketing. (Note: The interview is not an endorsement of Lately. Try the platform for yourself.)

Q: Let’s start by asking how you define AI ethics.

A: For me, AI ethics boils down to three key pillars: data privacy, transparency, and properly crediting content creators. At my company, we have taken care to build an ethical platform aligned with these principles.

First and foremost, we do not share any user data whatsoever, nor do we reference any open AI models. The AI results our customers receive come only from their own content and analytics. I believe this approach gives customers more privacy and protects their brand integrity.

Second, transparency is critical — anyone can ask me specifically how Lately works under the hood. What are our language models like? Where did we get our training data? I'll openly answer those questions. When dealing with emerging technologies like AI that inherently require some trust from users, being transparent about how you built the tech and how it operates fosters that

Finally, our platform is designed to automatically give credit to any shared content via short links back to the original. This avoids copyright issues, of course. But on a broader level, it nudges Lately users towards ethical "best practices" when sharing content you didn't solely create on social media — acknowledge the author.

Q: Was that why you started Lately?

A: Well, not because it was ethical, but to be honest with you, because we saw initially the results were either the difference between great or galactic, which is why we did it.

One of the things that's built into the process because we have a very narrow plane, which is organic social media, is that we're always referencing your social media analytics with the content that we generate for you. We only give results based on what we know will work and perform for you. And that means that the continuous performance learning kicks in.

Q: As an AI developer and marketer, what is your point of view regarding the intersection of AI ethics and marketing?

A: It's like social media. Do marketers do unethical things on Facebook and Twitter? Of course. It's the same thing with marketing and AI. Nobody should be lying to anybody or pulling the wool over your eyes, but if you're dumb enough to fall for it, the onus is on you. I do think there's a two-way street here, and the people wielding the pen are just as powerful as the pen itself.

Q: But what responsibility does the platform developer have? And how do you see that being different or the same as marketers?

A: What we say is that there are always nefarious users. I mean, I'm not responsible for someone who's misusing my platform. You can use Lately to pretend that you own somebody else's content, just as you could with any piece of technology in the world.

What I have to do is direct what it's meant to do, make it clear what it's meant to do, and ensure the algorithms are all pointing in the direction of what it's meant to do. I can't force people to behave beautifully, but I can make my intention clear, and the platform can make its intention clear.

Q: How do you ensure that Lately aligns with ethical AI practices, and what are the challenges?

A: Ensuring ethical AI practices is a continuous process. We prioritize user privacy and data security, ensuring that client data is used solely for improving our service and not for any other purposes. The challenges lie in maintaining transparency and trust, especially as AI technology evolves rapidly. We constantly review our policies and algorithms to align with the latest ethical standards and user expectations.

Q: When it comes to AI ethics policies, what specific steps has taken so far?

A: We have language in our Terms of Service reinforcing proper use cases and ethical handling of generated content. But setting company policies is tricky absent wider industry standards — and those are still coalescing across marketing, government entities, and tech firms.

Q: What role do you see humans playing in an AI-driven marketing world?

A: Humans will remain at the core of marketing, even in an AI-driven landscape. AI tools like Lately are designed to augment human capabilities, not replace them. The creativity, empathy, and strategic thinking humans bring to marketing are irreplaceable. AI will free up marketers to focus more on these aspects, fostering more innovation and personalization in marketing strategies.

Q: Doesn't relying on AI to generate marketing content potentially reduce creativity over time, however?

A: It certainly makes "laziness" convenient — even I default at times to leveraging automation over crafting something entirely from scratch! But in my view, that misses AI's dual promise and peril in the creative process.

Q: In your opinion, how might formal AI ethics standards, rules, or disclosures take shape in marketing over time?

A: I envision "spin-ometers" emerging as a popular transparency safeguard — tools that can analyze content and clearly label what percentage is AI-generated versus human-written. It's akin to clearly delineating sponsored and "native" content. Consumers deserve to understand the origins of what they're reading.

As for broad regulations around ethical AI use in marketing, that's a tricky debate still unfolding. Blanket rules governing all marketing AI applications could overreach given how rapidly the technology still evolves. And much like social networks, the onus falls somewhat to individuals to inform themselves about any AI they entrust or choose to use.

Overall, I believe ethics in this arena boil down to intention: Is the goal to willfully trick or manipulate consumers without their knowledge? Then you've crossed a line. Is the goal to create interest and value? Then AI can help scale authentic, ethical marketing efforts.

Used intentionally, marketing-focused AI tools free up mental bandwidth that can get sunk in the drudgery of content creation. That, in turn, liberates room for creative exploration and breakthrough ideas that genuinely captivate audiences. Wedded to human ingenuity and empathy, AI makes the marketing craft even more scalable.

Q: What advice would you give marketers in an increasingly AI-centric world?

A: One of the things we've been trying to teach our customers and others is go for it, experiment with AI, do it, and go nuts. But have a checklist of the things you need to know about the AI that you're using so you're informed about what's happening.

Q: Any last words regarding AI ethics and marketing?

A: It goes back to intention every time.

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