Is AI the future of news media?

3 min read

artificial-intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has rapidly progressed in recent years thanks to developments in data collection and better algorithm designs. As a result, various industries have embraced AI, allowing the groundbreaking technology to disrupt their work processes. Revolutionary applications have already been seen in a wide variety of sectors, such as healthcare, digital marketing, and telecommunications. The technology does give businesses a competitive edge, and in today’s world, any company that’s not incorporating AI into their operations is lagging behind.

To put things in perspective, current AI technology is what TechTalks labels as weak AI. In contrast, strong AI refers to the technology that can think and decide like humans, much like what is shown in science fiction films. The AI that is often referred to these days involves machine learning, deep learning, automation, and any other features that cater to very specific tasks. Ayima details that current AI technology consists of neural networks that are inspired by the design of the human brain. They function in two phases: the learning phase, wherein the model is trained by being fed large data sets; and the application phase, where the AI model takes the information and puts it into action.

It seems that all businesses will find a use for AI, including media, which is an industry that’s rather unexpected as it runs primarily on human labor and creativity. Take a look at some the promising developments for AI in news media.

Hyper-personalized content

Research has shown that the gap between those who consume TV news and those who consume online news is rapidly narrowing, with almost half of Americans admitting they regularly read online news sources. Experts predict that at least 50% of adults in developed countries will have at least four exclusive online media subscriptions by 2020.

Aside from a preference for online news, there is also a demand for more video content. However, video can be costly, and most news organizations are still on the fence about placing a significant amount of investment in it. They have to deal with the difficulty of scaling video, as well as the uncertainty of commercial returns.

It is in this light that Chris Richardson predicts that hyper-personalized content will mark a new era for news media. AI will be able to deliver relevant content to each user based on user preferences. It will achieve this by gathering highlights from different videos and compiling them into one customized video that is then sent to the user. In theory, this solution would be scalable, and would require no production costs from news companies. The commercial return would come in the form of consumption-based micro-payments.

News by AI-powered voice assistants

The consumer trend of smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Home Assistant shows that people are beginning to adapt to speaking with inanimate objects. While these devices do a remarkable job of serving users in terms of basic inquiries, news media organizations are beginning to experiment in how they can use voice assistants to better deliver news.

The Washington Post experimented in how smart speakers can use the company’s unique voice when sharing news stories from their website. The challenge lies in what information the Post can exclusively offer that the main interface of a smart speaker can’t. Another aspect worth exploring is how news organizations can send voice notifications through these voice assistants. They would have to consider the time at which users receive these notifications so that the news content would relevant.

Robo journalism

Last but not least is the futuristic notion of robo journalism. Humans do a pretty good job of getting the news out there as events are happening, but there are times when news teams aren’t fast enough in their coverage — especially in today’s rapid-fire consumption of content and the importance of the Zero Moment of Truth. AI technology can come in by shortening the time that news stories are reported and delivered.

Michael Spencer wrote about a tool that searches breaking news in social media posts and composes news reports out of them via an algorithm. It does this by analyzing text, photos, and even punctuations like exclamation marks in order to find newsworthy items. The technology has also been claimed to be capable of weeding out false news stories.

Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley startup has developed a news website that is powered by AI algorithms. The technology approaches a news story in a unique way in that it scours other websites for the same report and analyzes any potential biases. After the search, it would then create its own “impartial” version of the story. And the most amazing part? This entire process of researching, analyzing, and writing happens in less than a minute.

While the majority of these developments are still being experimented, they do reveal a revolutionary future for the news industry. Many are worried that AI technology will slowly replace human jobs, but a lot of AI proponents argue that humans will only discover new jobs that involve working with AI to ensure that the algorithms do their tasks well. And while we wait for these innovations to become mainstream applications, there’s plenty for us to learn and be excited about in the world of AI.

 

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