Robots are not going to take over journalism but will change how journalists work

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By PATRICK MAYOYO

Although machines might soon be able to do much routine journalism labour, they are not going to take over journalism, a study shows.

The study, New Global Survey  on journalism and artificial intelligence however adds that the reality and the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data processing is to give journalists new powers of discovery, creation and connection.

The hope is that journalists will be algorithmically turbo-charged, capable of using their human skills in new and more effective ways.

According to Prof  Charlie Beckett of London School of Economic, AI journalism report is a first step towards understanding what the news media thinks about AI and what it might do next. Step

“AI could also transform newsrooms from linear production lines into networked information and engagement hubs that give journalists the structures to take the news industry forward into the data-driven age,” he notes.

Prof Beckett adds that algorithms will power the systems, but the human touch – the insight and judgement of the journalist – will be at a premium.

“The Internet, social media, and mobile communications have already provided new tools and pathways for journalism to meet the profound challenges of the digital age. Now AI technologies promise another leap forward,” he observes.

The new global survey on journalism and artificial intelligence is a project of Polis – the journalism think-tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science – in collaboration with the Google News Initiative.

The Journalism AI report is based on a survey of 71 news organisations in 32 different countries regarding artificial intelligence and associated technologies. A wide range of journalists working with AI answered questions about their understanding of AI, how it was used in their newsrooms, and their views on the wider potential and risks for the news industry.

What emerges from this research is that artificial intelligence (AI) is a significant part of journalism already but it is unevenly distributed. AI is giving journalists more power, but with that comes editorial and ethical responsibilities.

The report says that the future impact of AI is uncertain but it has the potential for wide-ranging and profound influence on how journalism is made and consumed. AI can free up journalists to work on creating better journalism at a time when the news industry is fighting for economic sustainability and for public trust and relevance.

It can also help the public cope with a world of news overload and misinformation and to connect them in a convenient way to credible content that is relevant, useful and stimulating for their lives.

The authors of the report say it is not a manual for implementation, but rather an introduction to and discussion of journalism and AI and hope it will help newsrooms make decisions around strategy, and think proactively about the ethical and editorial challenges, as well as the potential implications of adopting these new technologies.

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