UvA, HvA and CWI launch AI, Media & Democracy Lab
Publication date: 2021-02-22
How will AI change media? What new opportunities can AI create for democracy? And what conditions need to be fulfilled for these things to happen? Starting Monday, 22 February, researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) will collaborate with media partners, societal partners and the municipality of Amsterdam in the new AI, Media & Democracy Lab, which will look to answer some of these questions.
The AI, Media & Democracy Lab focuses on how AI and digital technology are transforming media and democracy. The researchers will tackle specific issues surrounding the use of AI in the media, such as ways to develop more people-oriented and diverse systems, or the possible role of chatbots in news provision. In addition, they and the various partners in the lab will think about what the media of tomorrow should look like. To this end, the lab will bring together fundamental and applied research in the fields of law, ethics, communication science, media studies and computer science.
What should technology (not) do?
AI plays an increasingly important role in the creation and distribution of news: from smart tools that help journalists produce their stories to fully automated news story production, and from audience profiling that informs editorial decisions to AI-driven news recommendation systems.
Debates about filter bubbles, privacy, the role of big tech, editorial independence and the datafication of journalistic values and fundamental rights touch on the legal, ethical, social and democratic implications that the use of AI in the media can have. Professional ethics, law and fundamental rights can play an important role in this transformation. The lab will collaborate on news recommendation and the development of methods of measurement that can contribute to a more diverse and inclusive public space and an informed society. An advertising dashboard will seek to make more transparent the ways in which political parties try to influence us online in the run-up to the elections (microtargeting).
Natali Helberger, university professor of Law and Digital Technology at the UvA and one of the initiators of the lab: ‘The combination of practice, theory and groundbreaking research enables us to stimulate AI-driven innovation, build knowledge and create opportunities in a sector that is uniquely connected to the functioning of our democracy. As a media city, Amsterdam is the perfect base for our lab.’
Nanda Piersma, lecturer in Responsible IT at the AUAS and also a researcher at CWI: ‘In this collaboration between AUAS, the UvA and the CWI both academic and applied subjects and approaches will go hand-in-hand. Together with our consortium partners, we will design and implement tools that are truly responsible.’
The consortium partners conclude: ‘There can be no democracy without a healthy media landscape, there is no free media without democracy, and the media cannot function without technology’.
About the lab
The AI, Media & Democracy Lab is a collaboration between the UvA’s research teams Human(e) AI and ICDS (Information, Communication and the Data Society), the CWI’s research groups Humane-Centered Data Analyctics, Distributed and Interactive Systems and Intelligent and Autonomous Systems and the HvA lectorates Responsible IT, Network Cultures, Civic Interaction Design, Crossmedia and Visual Methodologies.