econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 23 November 2016

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Journalists Tell The Truth

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Kurt Barling, Middlesex University

When I started in TV journalism three decades ago, pictures were still gathered on film. By the time I left the BBC in 2015, smartphones were being used to beam pictures live to the audience. Following the digital revolution and the rise of online giants such as Facebook and Google, we have witnessed what Joseph Schumpeter described as the "creative destruction" of the old order and its replacement by the innovative practices of new media.

There has been a great deal of furious - and often hyperbolic - discussion in the wake of the US election, blaming the "echo-chamber" of the internet - and Facebook in particular - for distorting political discourse and drowning the online public in "fake news". Antidotes are now sought to ensure that "truth filters" guard the likes of Facebook - and its users - from abuse at the hands of con artists wielding algorithms.

Students in the town of Veles, Macedonia where reports say hundreds of websites are churning out 'fake news' designed to appeal to Donald Trump supporters on social media. EPA/Georgi Licovski

Facebook and Google are now the big beasts of the internet when it comes to distributing news - and as they have sought to secure advertising revenue, what has slowly but surely emerged is a kind of "click-mania". This is how it works: the social media platforms and search engines advertise around news stories, which means that the more clicks a story gets the more eyeballs see the social media sites' advertising, which generates revenue for them. In this media environment, more clicks mean more revenue - so the content they prioritise is inevitably skewed towards "clickbait" - stories chosen for their probability of getting lots and lots of readers to click on them. Quality and veracity are low on the list of requirements for these stories.

It is difficult to argue that this did not impact on online editorial priorities with hyperbolic headlines becoming ever more tuned to this end. At times, on some platforms, it resulted in what Nick Davies dubbed "churnalism", whereby stories were not properly fact-checked or researched.

Erosion of trust

Consumption patterns are inevitably affected by all this creative destruction and social media sites have quickly replaced "the press" as leading sources of news. And yet there is the danger that the resulting information overload is eroding trust in information providers.

The outgoing US president, Barack Obama, captured the dilemma the public faces on his recent trip to Germany:

If we are not serious about facts and what's true and what's not, if we can't discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.

There is a renewed recognition that the traditional "gatekeepers" - journalists working in newsrooms - do provide a useful filter mechanism for the overabundance of information that confronts the consumer. But their once-steady advertising revenues are fast being rerouted to Facebook and Google. As a result, traditional news companies are bleeding to death - and the currently popular strategy of introducing paywalls and subscriptions are not making up the losses. Worse still, many newspapers continue to suffer double-digit falls in circulation, so the gatekeepers are "rationalised" and the public is the poorer for it.

Rise of the algorithm

One of the answers lies in repurposing modern newsrooms, which is what the likes of the Washington Post are doing under its new owner Jeff Bezos. Certainly, journalists have to find ways of encouraging people to rely less on, or become more sceptical of, using social media as their primary source for news. Even Facebook has recognised it needs to do more to avoid fakery being laundered and normalised on its platform.

So how to avoid falling for fakery? One option involves the use of intelligent machines. We live in a media age of algorithms and there is the potential to use Artificial Intelligence as a fundamental complement to the journalistic process - rather than simply as a tool to better direct advertising or to deliver personalised editorial priorities to readers.

Software engineers already know how to build a digital architecture with natural language programming techniques to recognise basic storylines. What is to stop them sampling a range of versions of a story from various validated sources to create a data set and then use algorithms to strip out bias and reconstruct the core, corroborated facts of any given event.

Aggregation and summation techniques are beginning to deliver results. I know of at least one British tech start-up that, although in the research and development phase, has built an engine that uses a natural language processing approach to digest data from multiple sources, identify a storyline and provide an artificially intelligent summary that is credible. It's a question of interpretation. It is, if you will, a prototype "bullshit detector" - where an algorithmic solution mimics the old-fashioned journalistic value of searching for the truth.

If we look at the mess our democracies have fallen into because of the new age of free-for-all information, it is clear that we need to urgently harness artificial intelligence to protect open debate - not stifle it. This is one anchor of our democracies that we cannot afford to abandon.

The ConversationKurt Barling, Professor of Journalism, Middlesex University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Are You Feeling the Economic Surge?
Big Mess in Italy
News Blog
Moving Averages Can Identify A Trade
Infographic Of The Day: Hobbies That Will Make You Money
Earnings And Economic Reports: Week Starting 05 December 2016
Early Headlines: Green Pty Cancels - Then Appeals PA Recount, IRS Serves Summons On Bitcoin Co, Most Mfg Jobs Lost To Automation, 2017 US Hosing Outlook And More
The Smartphone Market Is Not A Two-Horse Race
Italy's Referendum: What's At Stake And What You Need To Know
There Were Over A Million Casualties At The Somme
The Best Countries In The World
What We Read Today 03 December 2016 - Public Edition
Big Mac Index In Its 30th Year
What We Read Today 03 December 2016
Scientists Find Giant Underground Ice Reserve On Mars
Sustained 3 To 4% GDP Growth Is A Huge Stretch
Investing Blog
How To Invest When The Fed Destroys Capitalism
Technical Thoughts: Manage Risk
Opinion Blog
Why Did Trump Win? A Different Perspective, Part 3
Jobs Without Disruptions Through Concordian Economics
Precious Metals Blog
Silver Prices Rebounded Today: Where They Are Headed
Live Markets
02Dec2016 Market Close: WTI Crude Climbed Back Up To Previous 51 Handle, US Dollar Index Trading At The100 Level, Oil Rig Count At 10-Month High
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved