SEPTEMBER 28, 2023

AI – The Human in the Loop

An image of a robotic face with light patterns reflecting against it

Decisions being made today about the use of artificial intelligence in journalism may have enormous consequences for future generations, according to the head of technology forecasting at the UK broadcaster, BBC.

In the first episode of season four of the Making the Media Podcast, host Craig Wilson talks with the Laura Ellis about her role within the organization and how they are assessing the impact of AI and machine learning on a whole raft of content creation areas.

In the episode, Laura discusses the rapid pace of developments in this area, particularly in recent months—“like drinking from a firehose,” is how she puts it—and the crucial nature of the work of the BBC’s R&D department.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be in technology. I'm very grateful to be here. I wish I was a bit younger because I'd like to kind of see it out for a few more decades, and I just think let's keep talking. Let's keep talking with organizations involved in this space, and we need to keep the conversations going because it's really important that decisions we make now will shape an awful lot of stuff which will be very consequential for future generations. I think it's that important.”

Laura also explains her belief that it is right the BBC asks difficult questions about the role which AI can play in journalism, in particular when it comes to the subject of generative AI—where artificial intelligence can be used to create or enhance stories, images, or videos.

“Wherever we're using AI, it should be to help and enhance and give us those superpowers about interrogating vast amounts of data. But we must always make sure that the relationship with the audience is hugely important. It's the most important thing and the trust that we have, and I think making sure that we never breach that by doing anything irresponsible with the sort of generative material we're seeing is massively, massively important.”

In the episode, Laura discusses ongoing work around content authenticity and how best to keep audiences informed about where AI is being used. She firmly believes in the importance of the “human in the loop” when it comes to stories being created and published.

She tells the podcast, “One of the most important things about journalism is the human experiencing something and telling another human about it or a group of humans about it. And I don't see in my lifetime AI being able to replicate that and it probably shouldn't, so I think we need to make sure we protect that.”

Find out more on the next episode of the Making the Media podcast, available on all major podcast platforms on Friday, September 29.

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  • Craig Wilson headshot

    Craig Wilson is a newsroom specialist with over thirty years of experience in the broadcast industry. Craig has held various roles with Avid and is now the Global Media and Cloud Product Evangelist and host of the Making the Media podcast.

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