Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.
While technology has always played a role in journalism and the media, the act of delivering news and information to people has remained the preserve of human journalists. As AI has developed in recent years, however, that has begun to change, with AI-based systems now increasingly able to play the communicator role and generate content on their own.
The results are important as there are historically low levels of trust in the news media industry, with more people than ever getting their news from social media. This coincides with growing concerns about the ability of AI to threaten things like privacy, equality, and fairness.
There is a difficult balance to be struck between helping people trust AI while also reporting on the various uses of it that are detrimental to the public. The study found that under half of respondents said that they had seen or read anything about AI in the past year.
This figure was broadly in line with that from another study conducted in Europe a few years earlier, which was notable because most of the participants reported high levels of technology usage themselves, yet were largely oblivious to the uses of AI.
“We seemed to have stalled for three years and that is worth asking why and how,” the researchers explain. “Some of this stuff is pretty geeky. There might be a general disinterest in a high level of detail [about AI]. People might be thinking: ‘I just want it to work. I don’t care how it works.’”
Technology is undoubtedly playing a greater role in the journalism process, however, whether that’s supporting journalists in their work or actually producing the content itself.
“If organizations are going to be thinking about adopting these AI technologies, one of the things they need to be asking is, ‘OK, how does this fit with what our audience needs or expects or how does it fit with who they think we are?’” the author concludes. “Rather than thinking, ‘Well, this is the future, and we need to go that way.’”
- Owsley, C. S., & Greenwood, K. (2022). Awareness and perception of artificial intelligence operationalized integration in news media industry and society. AI & Society, 1-15. ↩