AI, machine learning & automation: what future for journalism?
These were the key questions, which animated the debate at the summer school “AI and journalism”, organised by the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH) in cooperation with the European Youth Press network of media makers (EYP).
70 enthusiastic young journalists from all over EU countries attended the event and the programme featured 10 AI experts among researchers, policy makers, journalists and media representatives.
The first edition of the European Youth Science and Media Days (#eysmd2019) took place on 4-7 June at the EP premises in Strasbourg. The four-day event was opened by Diana Bologova, Project Manager of the EYP, and Theo Karapiperis, Head of Unit of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA).
Theo Karapiperis : “The EYSMD could become a regular forum giving young media makers and other communicators the opportunity to learn about and practice on the latest technologies they will be reporting on or using for their work.”
DAY 1 – Tuesday 4 June 2019
The first session “AI, EU and ethics” (Tuesday 4 June afternoon) was moderated by Mićo Tatalović, Chair of the Association of the British Science Writers.
Michael Matlozs, president of Euroscience, gave the first talk : “AI is a game-changer since is it accelerates immensely the interpretation of information, tasks that journalists and researchers perform. Even if AI is a challenge to professional practice, but the fundamentals of providing sense and critical assessment with ethics, integrity and honest judgement remain!”
Wilfried Runde, Head of Research and Innovation at Deutsche Welle : “AI in newsrooms is real but: don‘t believe the hype! AI Winter is coming. Consider AI a beat/topic: acquire in-depth knowledge, hold those to account that create the algorithms and engage in AI ethics debates.”
Mićo Tatalović : “Science news is a formulaic format that might render itself to automatization, raising questions about economics and ethics of doing so.”
Theo Karapiperis, HoU STOA, on AI, EU and ethics : “The European approach to AI promotes innovation and investment, in the framework of an ethical charter of best practice, and aspires to put Europe globally in the lead by deploying only ethically embedded AI.”
After a short break, Mattia Peretti presented the joint LSE-Google initiative “JournalismAI”. The first day was closed by the talk of Stefan Hall, Project and Engagement Lead at the World Economic Forum.
Mattia Peretti : “What are the challenges and opportunities presented by the adoption of AI-powered technologies in newsrooms? And what can, should and shouldn’t AI do for journalism ?”
Stefan Hall : “The emerging challenges relate mostly to the distribution of content using AI, rather than the use of AI in content creation.”
DAY 2 – Wednesday 5 June 2019
The morning session of Wednesday 5 June started with a hands-on training on “Machine learning” (to demystify AI), given by Julie Scherpenseel (ML6).
Julie Scherpenseel : “There is a lot of hype about AI, but also a lot of misinformation about what it can and cannot do. In this hands-on Machine Learning training, journalists will learn how machine learning works and will learn to distinguish facts from myths!”
After the training, it was time to move to the session “Algorithm literacy”, moderated by Guido Romeo, Data Journalist and Chair of Facta.
The floor was opened by the Media Consultant Amelia Pisapia.
Amelia Pisapia : “The tech industry might not have a codified body of ethics, but as media professionals, we do. We are committed to truth, transparency, accountability and the minimization of harm.”
After her, Carl-Gustav Lindén, researcher at the University of Helsinki focused on human-machine interaction in journalism, especially automation. The journalist Miço Tatalovic presented his last paper and closed Day 2 of the summer school.
Miço Tatalovic : “State-of the art algorithms can already provide decent, brief and readable summaries of research papers, opening up the possibility of automatization of science press releases and news.” http://super-ms.mit.edu/rum.html
Carl-Gustav Lindén : “The key question is: What can or should be automated and what are inherently human tasks? Lindén brings forward a novel concept, “augmented journalism”, which differs from the idea of artificial intelligence and machines that are smarter than humans.”
In the afternoon of Wednesday 5 June, participants split into nine working groups to elaborate some outcomes on the topics discussed during the first two days.
DAY 3 – Thursday 6 June 2019
Day 3 started with an introduction by Mr Paul Rübig, first STOA vice-Chair, who greeted the participants from Brussels via video link.
After him, it was time to propose to the young journalists a practical AI tool (EU funded) that can be used in the newsrooms, INJECT. Kostantinos Zachos, Lead Developer of the project, showed a DEMO of the tool. The presentation of the tool was then followed by a full session devoted to case studies from the EIT community. The session was moderated by Caroline Vandenplas, Head of Communications Section at the EIT.
As promoter of the first ESMH summer school, Paul Rübig underlined the importance of such an event for young media makers and he stressed once again the overall mission of the European Science-Media Hub: to promote sound science communication and fight disinformation.
Michal Gorzynski, Head of Section Impact EIT : “We need to innovate and take advantage of AI technologies! EIT is running one of the biggest AI programmes in Europe with education, innovation & entrepreneurship.”
Caroline Vandenplas : “Europe’s future is connected to its power to innovate. EIT has created Europe’s largest innovation network that powers entrepreneurs & innovators to tackle the global challenges facing us with Innovation Made in Europe.”
Kostantinos Zachos : “INJECT is a new digital tool to support journalists to write more original journalism, more quickly than now . Unlike robot-journalism and other AI uses, INJECT does not seek to replace any key element of a journalist’s work Instead, it uses different technologies to enhance/empower journalists operating in less and less time, and fewer resources.”
Jan Philipp Beck, CEO of EIT Health, discussed about EIT Health supports accessibility of Big Data to maximise the potential of AI.
Dr. Umar Naeem Ahmad, co-founder of Abtrace, winner of Wildcard_EITH, speaks about tackling antimicrobial resistance using AI.
Guillaume Toublanc, Node Director of EIT Digital France : “EIT_Digital is all about boosting European digital deep tech innovation. And AI is in important part of our strategy. There’s no innovation without education, pointing at the #AI focus of the EIT Digital Academy.”
Dora Palfi, EIT Digital Master School student (2nd year) & CEO and co-founder of startup imagiLabs pointed out how challenging is to attract girls for coding by making it attractive for them without falling in gender stereotypes.
Prof. Frank Gielen, Education Director EIT InnoEnergy : “Energy industry becomes precision industry. To manage the skill gap in all innovation fields, education, investment in start-ups & human capital and connect them in an ecosystem, as an active learning space, is key.”
Arnaud De Moissac, Founder and CEO DCbrain : “We use AI to help stakeholders to better manage their network to perform the energy transition.”
In the afternoon, the nine working groups met again to finalise the different media products that will be the “outcomes” of the summer school, in view of their final presentation on Friday 7 June in the morning.
But the third day of the event was not over yet and at 4.30 the participants visited the hemicycle of the plenary and at 5 pm the Virtual Reality experience started!
A Virtual Reality Cinema, with a selection of 3 films on AI for participants (Alteration, Merger, I saw the future). Also, three virtual-reality stations called “room scale” were installed, for the users to move in the experience: a space-themed experience (Mercury project), a vertigo-themed experience, spheres and an artistic experience to paint in 3D.
Friday 7 June was then devoted to the showcase of the work done by the nine groups of media makers in the previous days and some closing remarks wrapped up the event. The working groups produced several interesting media products on AI, stay tuned to see the outcomes of the summer school!