Prof Mrinal Chatterjee

On July 9, 2023, Sunday Bhubaneswar based Odisha TV launched India’s first regional artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor named “Lisa.” She has the ability to speak multiple languages, including Odia and English.

Earlier, Aaj Tak’s AI news anchor Sana was introduced at the India Today Conclave 2023. This trend of having AI news anchors started as China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency made a breakthrough by deploying a robot as English AI Anchor in 2018.

AI news anchors are computer-generated models. They can provide realistic speech and facial expressions through natural language processing and deep learning.

Introduction of AI news anchors has created a flutter among the media and raised concerns over job security and shrinking space for journalists in the media world. And these concerns are not limited to media related jobs alone.

Artificial intelligence or AI could replace almost 80 percent of human jobs in the coming years, said US-Brazilian researcher Ben Goertzel. According to a study, about 300 million jobs could be lost to AI, signaling that the technology can and will upend work as we know it. Like past technological revolutions, AI can help companies decrease costs by automating specific processes, freeing companies to grow their businesses.

A Goldman Sachs report says that AI could automate 25% of the entire labor market but can automate 46% of tasks in administrative jobs, 44% of legal jobs, and 37% of architecture and engineering professions. Of course, AI is the least threatening to labor-intensive careers like construction (6%), installation and repair (4%), and maintenance (1%).

Artificial intelligence involved jobs accounts to around 10-12% of the total functionalities in the media industry. A 2019 survey of 71 news organisations in 32 countries in Europe, North America, South America and Asia, reported that nearly four out of ten organisations have already deployed artificial intelligence strategies.

Thus, like all emerging technologies, AI use will be there.

If one considers media related works, AI can write reports and articles. It can transcribe audio and video interviews. It can flag alerts. It can examine large databases and send journalists alerts as soon as a trend or anomaly emerges from big data. It can provide content producers and publisher’s tools to identify fake news and lessen their impact on their readership.

AI systems can improve journalistic processes and workflows. It can help organizations streamline their distributed processes for gleaning information, contacting sources and backend operations like dealing with the advertisers. AI can also control bias by reducing the subjective interpretation of the data of the human as its machine learning algorithms are trained to consider accuracy.

At its worst, automation could threaten jobs and journalistic identity by taking over work usually done by humans. At its best, it could lead to a renewal of journalism by taking over repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up journalists to focus on producing content with high added value.

The challenge is to use AI and not be used by it.

For that, the three important steps are:

  1. Training personnel to use the technology.
  2. Ensuring reliable and credible data is fed into the machine
  3. Strengthen the legislation framework for content and for job security of the journalists.

(The author is Regional Director Indian Institute of Mass Communication, IIMC Dhenkanal. Views are personal)