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Artificial Intelligence and the Media

It could well be due to lack of natural resources, but few professions will be more affected by the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) tools than journalism.


For those of us who share the belief that the breaking news is not in the fact that every day some 300,000 planes take off and land around the globe, but in the details of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 that just crashed near Addis Ababa, the AI resources will force us to recognize that, almost by definition, the media is not a faithful reflection of what we call the real world.


It is worth starting with a platitude: of the 170 thousand patents registered before the World Intellectual Property Organization of applications and inventions related to AI since 2013, none of them supposes the creation of that supreme machine capable of completely replacing the humankind and take control of the universe. AI it is about developing sufficient computing capacity to process enormous quantities of information, always focused on the resolution of very specific tasks.


To lose the fear of “Hal” (Space Odyssey, 1968) would suffice to imagine the complications that Deep Blue (the mega computer that in 1997 won a game of chess to Gary Kasparov) would have to serve at least one of the capabilities that perform Siri, Watson, Alexa or Google.


Until today, the two main companies that lead, and by far, the research on the subject -IBM and Microsoft-, have concentrated the use of powerful algorithms so that different types of machines acquire certain human-like capacities. The three most striking are: sight, speech and sense of orientation. However, the most important has been the one that supposes the raw material of the journalist trade, the information processing.


It´s clear that obtaining information, analyzing it and ordering it in the form of an attractive story form part of the DNA of the second oldest profession, therefore it should be evident that computers should be much more than simple typewriters or digital archivists.


The use of techniques such as the construction of “neural networks” and/or “deep learning” have allowed the top valued companies to develop capabilities for image recognition, voice generation and automatic translation that are currently in use in most mobile devices.


Martin Ford, author of The Rise of the Robots, assures that in the coming years the type of “jobs that will be most vulnerable to automation offered by AI are those that are particularly routine and predictable.”


For a profession that could be illustrated with The Myth of Sisyphus and beyond the subject of egos, it should be clear that a huge part of today´s media content it is, to say the least, foreseeable or of minimal relevance.


Even in the field of the social media, 2018 was the breaking point when these platforms revealed themselves as tools for massive manipulation and distortion of the true. They are big and powerful, but not cool anymore.


This is where the AI ​​already available offers new opportunities. From the simple reading of analytics to the segmentation of audiences. From the use of archives to the construction of narratives. From data mining to the creation of perceptions.

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