Reality of AI- AI appears regularly in the media, but are journalists distorting reality, both intentionally and unintentionally? Colm Gorey investigates.
With scrutiny of the media at an unprecedented level, the ways and means in which journalists cover particular topics have also been made a topic of conversation. While politics, sport and lifestyle have been staples of newspapers for centuries – and also in the earliest days of online journalism – technology appears to be still finding its feet.
None more so than the area of artificial intelligence (AI), which has exploded into the mainstream through pop culture and, increasingly, billionaire celebrities with big ambitions and platforms, such as Elon Musk. Will humanity be erased by autonomous ‘killer robots’ or will we co-exist with them in our homes, cars and workplaces?
However, away from the end-of-the-world scenarios or possible utopias, there is another pertinent question: where is this news coming from? And how does this skew how journalists report on the technology?
That was the purpose of research undertaken by the University of Oxford and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published late last year. Looking specifically at the UK media, the authors of the report analysed 760 articles that referenced AI across six varied platforms of varied political leanings.
The report found that almost 60pc of news articles were associated with industry products, initiatives or announcements, with 33pc of unique sources across all articles affiliated with industry. This is almost twice as many from academia and six times as many as those from government. Somewhat unsurprising was another discovery that Musk was referenced in 12pc of all articles due to his many comments.
Hesitancy from academia
As a tech journalist, this doesn’t surprise me, given that most of my daily inbox is full of companies, both large and small, bombarding you with comments on what the Amazon Echo has done now, or how a new multibillion-dollar corporate AI is able to defeat a human at an ancient board game.