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SAMKUL-Samfunnsutviklingens kulturell

Investigating the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Journalism's Social Contract - Issues of Machine Ethics in Modern Journalism

Awarded: NOK 0.30 mill.

According to the latest Reuters Digital News report from 2019, 88% of news accessed are accessed and read online. Yet, the number of people who avoid reading the news altogether is at least 32% according to the same report. The online news delivery is necessarily supported by artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. We do not understand what impact this channel has on the role journalism plays in upholding societal values and freedoms. However, we are aware that an impact exists through the rising concern of filter bubbles, echo chambers, the spread of misinformation and polarisation in society. The question of AI?s impact on online news delivery falls under the areas of machine ethics and responsible use of AI. Machine ethics studies how AI can be built to uphold moral and ethical values. Responsible use of AI, among else, is concerned with establishing ethical AI use guidelines. These two fields, at present, offer virtually no work that investigates the issues of AI?s impact on online news delivery. We built an international highly interdisciplinary consortium of researchers and media experts and prepared a grant proposal that would investigate this societal and technical issue.

A FET-Open Challenging critical thinking project proposal will be submitted to the September 18th, 2019 deadline. An article reporting on preliminary investigation will be submitted to the third AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence Ethics and Society.

The journalistic social contract is a metaphor used to describe the democratic role that the press plays in helping the citizens maintain oversight of the government, on one hand, and helping the government maintain transparency of its decisions to the citizens, on the other hand. When the web content consumers became web content contributors as well the reciprocity principle in the journalist-citizen relationship has weakened. While some algorithmic affordances help citizens in performing their obligations in the contract, others limit them. Limitations, for example, are due to surveillance, terms of service contracts that induce `digital serfdom', the emergence of `data shadows' etc. The network specifically intends to explore the current state of automation in news curation and the impact this automation has on the algorithmic social contract of journalism. The societal impact of automatisation in news curation is a problem that cannot be investigated from any one individual research discipline. This impact stems from the combination of artificial intelligence methods used, together with the inadequate legal framework that governs mass media in the digital age and further the moral ramifications on individual news consumers and society as a whole. To prevent the negative impact of automatisation here, one must first understand it and to do that an expertise is needed in all of the disciplines involved. This project aims to secure that expertise. The main two challenges in interdisciplinary collaboration are to identify of the right experts and to enable communication between them. The project partners are all experts in the relevant disciplines and can thus identify the important people that the network must engage. The proposed workshop aims to bring the stakeholders up to speed with the language and state-off the art of the relevant aspects of the disciplines not their own, by inviting overview tutorials from different experts.

Funding scheme:

SAMKUL-Samfunnsutviklingens kulturell