How Human Journalists can retain their Jobs in the Age of Robot Journalists or Automated Journalism

Robot Journalists

Robot Journalists

As a founding dean of the biggest school of Communications in the Israeli academia I am responsible for preparing our graduates to retain their jobs in the age of automated journalism or robotic journalism. Artificial Intelligence is penetrating all aspects of journalism activities- data collection, data analysis and the composition of the narratives. Millions of narratives are already being written and published by AI algorithms with great economic efficiencies (by companies such as Automated Insights; Narrative science in the US, Tencent in China and several European companies). The quality of the narratives is constantly being improved and the tone of the stories is adjusted to the digital personality of the consumers. This poses a real threat to the future jobs of human journalists. Western democracies cannot survive without human journalists who are best suited to identify threats to the survival of social systems. This led me to study and research the limits of AI and the opportunities they open to human journalism.

The basic element in the “DNA” of AI algorithms is the artificial neuron which in itself constructed from logic elements which are simple binary electronic circuits. A great debate exists among AI scientific leaders and philosophers as to whether it is possible to fully emulate the human brain. Ray Kurzweil, Herbert Simon, Marvin Minsky John McCarthy believe it is possible. John Searle, Margaret Boden and others believe it is not possible and that the human brain will be more creative than the machine “brain”. AI is capable to advance intelligence almost without upper limits. This is reasonable to assume. However, research shows that intelligence beyond a threshold of about 120 is not necessary for genius creativity (Nancy Andreasen and Lewis Terman).

Examining the information processing of the artificial neuron reveals that it processes the information in a rational manner unlike the human neuron which is affected by neurobiological processes, by the subconscious and associative thinking. If AI is subjected to rational “thinking” processes, which I believe it does, the human journalist has an open door for what Boden describes as “transformational creativity” creativity beyond the conceptual framework as set by the of the algorithm programmer.

Human journalists must learn to be creative thinkers in order to survive in the battle with the robot journalists. They must use disruptive technologies to tell their stories, use destructive platforms to deliver the contents to their customers and employ data analytics tools to analyze relevant data in the data silos to discover new insights. In a chapter I wrote in a new book on the Visualization of Wars titled: “Can Robot Journalists Replace Human Journalists in the Coverage of Wars?” I provide relevant examples.

This analysis focuses on the future jobs of human journalists but I think the limitations of AI as rational information processing system is relevant to all human professions. We must educate the young generation to be aware of the limitations of AI and teach them to be “transformational creators”. IQ is not the deciding factors. How to “think different” can be taught. I am proud to say that in the Media Innovation Lab we created in my school of communications-we do just that and with significant success. Our students won national Microsoft prizes two years in a row and several unique startups were created. Our graduates are employed by leading Israeli and International high tech companies.

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