How AI Affects Us from Journalism to Politics

Sean Alunan our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 12/19/2019 10:47 AM
It’s been nearly 40 years since the War Games movie was released. Remember the computer voice, JOSHUA, who asked the infamous, “Would you like to play a game?”. The computer had been programmed to learn. You might call it a forerunner of Artificial Intelligence (AI) today. Except AI is no longer the little boy who becomes a stand-in for a grieving family. Now, we’re no longer watching a movie about AI, we’re living in its times.

But unlike a movie, we won’t find a solution after 90-minutes to two hours. Now, we must be cautious and pay attention or we will be leapfrogged by our own inventions. Can we change course at this late stage? As we enter a new decade, let’s take a look at some of the concerns and solutions posed by Amy Webb, author of The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity

How Did We Get Here?


As Christmas approaches, we are cajoled by memories and makers to buy back our past and cement our futures with things. Our desires for instant gratification keep us from planning for AI properly.

While it can be fun to watch AI play against Chess champions or worrisome to watch it direct our buying decisions, we remain secure in that its not yet to its full potential. But elements such as facial recognition and realistic generation cause concern for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is what will happen when systems make our choices for us.

From the Big 5 of Tech to your local commercial or paper, our minds are already often made up. And even when we’re presented with the truth, we may not even realise it because our AI capabilities have grown exponentially and continue to grow making us wonder…what if?

So, What Can We Do?


Businesses, Universities, and the Media all have a part to play. And in our image-centric world, the greatest of these is Media.

Universities can blend technical skills with soft skills and blend in degrees such as philosophy, cultural anthropology, and microeconomics just to name a few. The blending of these skills can offer a more robust understanding of the world around us. 

Businesses can work to ensure a more diverse staff and improve inclusion. Shareholders and investors can help by slowing down when considering investments in AI to allow for determining risk and bias before moving forward.

And when it comes to the Media, there’s general agreement the public needs greater media literacy. While AI-focused accusations of deepfakes in news and on television abound, there is a greater concern in that much of what people believe to be fake, isn’t. So, the question becomes, how does the media generate trust in a public that no longer believes what it  reads, sees, or hears?  It’s this casting of doubt which is the greater danger. Why? Because it requires no technology at all.

While it’s best to be informed, it can be tricky to navigate in today’s world. So, it’s up to not only the news consumers, but is up to researchers, journalists, and platforms to separate the wheat from the chaff. Or in this case, the real from the fake before the news reaches its audience.

From Socrates who taught his students to question what they learned to the students of the 20th century expected to remember only what was needed for a test; we have come full circle. But at a unique time in our world, in which the questioning has not much to do with challenging ourselves but is at best used to sow distrust. 

While tech companies like Facebook and Google have jumped on the bandwagon to expose fakes, others are moving into how to build trust. Again. At best, these startups offer comparisons of videos and images as the human eye works to discern the difference. 

But while tech may be advancing technological wonders by leaps and bounds, there remains a solid grounding of the human element. Humans are needed as content moderators to dispel fiction from truth. And in the media? There’s a renewed focus on training journalists to fact check, detect, and verify their stories. The human element adds a layer of nuance machines can’t yet emulate.

If you’re interested in AI, Big Data and Digital or Web Analytics, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our current opportunities, or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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Weekly News Digest: 5th - 9th April 2021

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