Episode 28

#28 The Intersection of AI and Journalism with Joanna Kocik

In this show, we have an intriguing discussion with Joanna Kocik, a seasoned journalist who provides valuable insights into the intersection of technology and media, specifically the use of AI in journalism.

Joanna shares her experiences and her approach to integrating AI into the newsroom of the future, where she draws compelling comparisons between the advent of AI and automated translation, both having the potential to streamline work processes. You'll get an insider's perspective into how AI is transforming news gathering, production, and distribution.

In our discussion, we also examine the future of media and how AI is poised to take over mundane tasks, allowing human journalists to focus on more creative and in-depth storytelling. Joanna offers thought-provoking insights into the impact of AI on newsrooms and journalism, its potential to restore trust in news, and its integration into popular tools like Microsoft Office and Adobe. Don't miss out as we navigate through the potentials and challenges AI presents in the world of journalism.

Lastly, we explore the ethical considerations of using AI in journalism and discuss the importance of diversity in AI development teams. We touch on the potential for AI to perpetuate biases and the need to ensure women are represented in these discussions. We also take a look at Joanna's recently released trend book, "The Newsroom of Tomorrow," which offers a comprehensive view of AI's role in various media organizations. Tune in as we discuss the limitations of AI and the crucial role of society in shaping its influence on the world.

Links relevant to this episode:

Thanks for listening, and stay curious!

//david

Transcript

00:00 - David Brown (Host)

Morning, Joanna. Welcome to the podcast.

00:02 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Good morning, Good morning David.

00:05 - David Brown (Host)

How's everything in Poland today?

00:08 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Very typical November, meaning it's grey and a little bit rainy, but I'm very fine, thank you.

00:16 - David Brown (Host)

Brilliant. I can empathize with the weather. That's usually UK weather is pretty much the same grey, rainy, chilly, but luckily today, for some reason, the sun. I'm sorry, I'm looking out the window. The sun's out. There's not a cloud in the sky today, so we've got lucky with the weather here.

00:35

Lucky, you Lucky you Maybe start off by just giving us a little bit of background. I mean, obviously I reached out to you because you've had a wealth of experience as a journalist and working in journalism for a long time and I think that whole topic. I haven't had a journalist on the podcast yet, so hopefully I can ask some interesting questions and we can have a good discussion. But maybe start off by just telling everybody how you got here and sort of what you're doing at the minute to give a bit of context.

01:03 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

All right, so my name is Joanna Kocik and I was a journalist for 13 years. I worked in the biggest digital media outlets in Poland. I worked purely in digital. You know, I never had this experience of working for like a real newspaper, so that was interesting. Because I joined the media when internet was only starting to be the big thing and some people were thinking, no, no, you know, we don't really need internet, we'll just stick to like traditional TV, traditional papers. And about three years ago I decided to switch sides a little bit and decided to engage in content marketing and in growth marketing in content creation.

01:57

I was freelancing for some time, creating different kinds of articles and blogs and podcasts, and also writing my own stories, my own features and even my own book.

02:09

And for some time now I've been involved with work with Authentica, which is a Polish consultancy and delivery team that designs custom solutions for media organizations. So, like the insight I had from the media could be easily transferred to what we're doing in Authentica, because I was working on, of course, some tools and some software for journalists, and now I take part in crafting content strategy around this software and around those tools, including AI tools. So that's super interesting to be on the other side and I still have a lot of contacts in journalistic world, so lots of interesting conversations going on. But yeah, that's pretty much my story and maybe it's a good time to mention that just recently I had the pleasure to release a trend book, the Newsroom of Tomorrow, gathering insights from media professionals and experts about technologies used in various media organizations and like real-life use cases of innovation, of AI, concepts, of AI solutions, also editorial analytics. So still in this world, somewhere at the intersection of tech and media, which is actually very interesting and very exciting market.

03:49 - David Brown (Host)

No, that's genius and I'm glad you snuck the book in there quite quickly. I do have a question about the book that we'll get to in a minute, so we will sort of around on that. One of the things obviously that I was curious about is how your experience in the actual traditional media and journalism world has affected your view on AI and your approach to integrating AI into the Newsroom of the future. So I was wondering if you could maybe just talk a little bit about that and kind of how those traditional values, I guess, and those traditional ways of working have now are affecting the AI and the way the AI works in journalism.

04:34 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Maybe I can use a kind of analogy, which is quite good in terms of what is happening with AI right now in the world of journalism, that some people are super hyped, some are a little bit suspicious, but everyone is using it, even they are not telling their bosses. But I think we witnessed a similar thing with automated translation when Google Translate started to be really good. When I was working in digital, it was like a must for a journalist to know at least two foreign languages, even passively, to read, to be able to understand a written text in English, german, french, spanish. But with Google Translate and with other automatic translators that are actually quite good, right now it is like, of course, it's very useful, but it's no longer, I think, like you know, a must have, because those tools, although they were not very perfect at the beginning, now serve as a tool that really streamline the work process, because you can put the whole long text into the translator and get at least an idea what it is about, and I think we're observing a similar thing with AI.

05:59

So it's for now, I'd say it's a tool, a tool that can reduce some redundant tasks, that can streamline the work process, that can speed up the work process and it's like used exactly as we use Google Translator, as we use some other useful tools and features, but I wouldn't say that it's like the core of the strategy of most media for now and, to be honest, I haven't seen like any strategy yet that would include like AI at its heart.

06:45

So for now, it's mostly like investigating the opportunities and the chances and assessing risks at the same time, but of course, I think it's going to be a revolution. It is already a revolution, probably like the biggest one since the first papers went digital and we witnessed this boom of internet and like. There are like three areas that everyone says AI is most useful at, and these are news gathering, news production and news distribution, and this is pretty obvious because with AI, we're able to extract large extract like information from large amount of data. We're able to write faster using generative AI, especially useful for content like weather reports, sport reports, horoscopes traffic.

07:47

Traffic yeah.

07:48 - David Brown (Host)

Traffic is another one. I was listening I was actually listening to the person who does my sound engineering, for the show is also a DJ and he does a morning show in the UK and we were just discussing yesterday because the traffic is done by AI, so it's an AI voice and everything, so it all just gets dumped in and automatically read, which was, you know, I thought was really interesting. So he and I were having a discussion about it, about he was asking me whether I knew it was AI when I heard it. And I did, but that's because I do this all the time and you know. But I think if somebody was just in their car and they were listening to the radio, they probably wouldn't even notice.

08:27 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, but now a question is traffic information journalism, because you know some people would argue I mean journalists still treat their profession very seriously and nobody like starts studying journalists or like applies for a media organization to write a traffic report.

08:49 - David Brown (Host)

A traffic report. People want to deliver impactful stories.

08:52 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

They want to, you know. Go out in this world, talk to people, uncover some facts, uncover scandals, change someone's life, maybe even change the law.

09:01 - David Brown (Host)

Yeah, that's, that's like the high goal, that we all as journalists, as a sport and we strive for yeah.

09:09 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

So you mentioned, like, how is this technology and values in journalism right now? And well, I worked in big media organizations that were like really content machines. You know, we produced like thousands of pieces of content every day and this volume was important because that was what brought money, because that was what brought visibility and you know all those profits from ads. But, at its heart, I think journalism is still like one of those professions with a mission and you can't really bring it down to pure technology and pure numbers and pure profits, because I hope it's never going to look like that and those values and this mission is still very important for a lot of people.

10:03

journalist from I don't know:

10:48 - David Brown (Host)

No, that's, that's a fair point, and I think I really like your point about translation as well, and maybe, maybe one of the fun things we can do is we can take some clips of this after the podcast is finished and we can use something like 11 labs and I can translate it into Polish and then we can share them in Polish as well, because, it will, you know, there are tools now that will just translate it. There's also another platform and again, I don't have any interest in any of these platforms, I just use them for fun but there's another one called hey Jen, and it will. It will be a platform and it will. It will do the same thing with the video, but it will also alter the mouth shape so that it looks like you're saying the words and whatever that language is, which is really, really clever. So, yeah, from that perspective, I mean it's, it's amazing, okay, that's cool, and I sort of like the way you're approaching that, and I guess this is something that you also talk about in your book. So again, the newsroom of tomorrow is is the book where I think you sort of explore future trends in media and journalism with a little bit of a crystal ball, and so what? What?

11:56

I guess what do you see are the most significant ways that AI is going to transform newsrooms. I mean, obviously we've talked about, you know, doing the, the, maybe the less journalistic stuff, like weather, although the weather is interesting, excuse me, the weather is interesting. You know Google I don't know if you saw the article, but Google DeepMind they pointed DeepMind at doing weather forecasts and it's actually like more accurate than normal weather forecasters and it can predict much further in the future. So apparently the sort of the weather industry was very skeptical in the beginning, but DeepMind has has predicted a couple of things like the pass of hurricanes and things, and they predicted exactly. And so the whole weather business is now looking at how we can use AI to to enhance weather prediction and I'll put a link to that article and some of the stuff we've talked about also.

12:53

So if we talk about anything in news stories and whatever, I'll put links to all that in the show notes. But yeah, how, how, how, aside from doing the boring stuff, I want to call it that what you know? What do you? What do you see? How do you see it changing news?

13:08 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, just before the answer. I just I want to relate to what you said about AI being more accurate than than people. That's like we already know that technology and algorithms are better than people. It's just that we don't want to trust them because if something happens, then who's to blame? Like take, I don't know autonomous cars right, they are like safer and and statistically like better than the cars that we like drivers, drivers but any case of accident or fire is, like you know, so hyped by the media that we just all think, oh no, no, it's dangerous, we can't use this technology. So I think that's something that we'll have to address at some point. What if AI makes a mistake? Like who's to blame?

14:02

But coming back to your question, I saw a very interesting survey by Reuters Digital News and it says that the general trust in news dropped by several percent in the past few years and it's mostly among young people, meaning that young people who say that are really interested in what's going on in the world is just decreasing.

14:30

It's dropping and I think that maybe here AI has a real chance to transform journalism, because if AI takes all the boring stuff weather reports and traffic reports then real human journalists will have more time and more space and maybe they will need to be more creative to craft stories that somehow will spark this interest in news again and also journalism. Today, and news brings a lot of negativity. We are reading about accidents, fires, wars, coups all the time, and we're just tired of it, especially after the pandemic and after the war in Ukraine. We're just tired of this pessimistic narrative. So people are looking for new forms, such as solution journalism that brings positive stories from around the world, maybe new channels that are just not here yet but will be in five or 10 years, like TikTok right.

15:47

Like 10 years ago like nobody thought we would have TikTok. And, by the way, tiktok and Instagram are more and more treated as news channels. Actually, people get their daily news and daily information from those channels and it's totally possible to deliver serious news in this funny gentle way, kind of infotainment, but also very personalized. So I think that AI, paradoxically, if it takes part of the redundant tasks, even part of the jobs, because that's I think that's evident that it will take a significant part of the job market, also in journalism. So people who did this SEO journalism, this very easy content, they will just they will be probably more expensive than AI, so they will just drop off, but I hope it will create some space for more quality journalism.

17:00

The journal is that you still need to go somewhere, talk to someone, dig into some papers, and I really think that that might be a chance for, like, more creative way of writing, of delivering stories, because we'll still need people, humans, who will guide us in this world which is getting more and more complicated. We'll need someone real to explain it to us. So that's the chance I see in development of AI. Maybe, I don't know five, 10 years and in the shorter perspective it's difficult to say because we're still in this stage of testing and experimenting, not actually employing AI tools in daily workflows, and we still somehow lack this bridge between, like, puretech and AI in editorial software, editorial use. So this is still to come, but it will probably happen, I don't know, in maybe one, two years.

18:22 - David Brown (Host)

Well, obviously, microsoft is building AI into all of its Office suite and Adobe's built a full functionality into all of its tools, whether it's video or audio related, or Photoshop and that sort of thing. So it's definitely coming and it's gonna be just part of that suite of products that journalists and everybody uses. Do you know what I mean? It's not gonna be just journalists. So two things came out of that. One that came to mind. One is have you seen the fully AI newsroom? So there is a. It's online and I'll put a link to it and I'll have to send it to you afterwards.

19:01

I apologize, I didn't think of it ahead of time. I probably should have, but it's literally. It's a fully AI red news and you can essentially go on and it's like a daily news show and it finds the articles. So it's got a query, it goes out, it finds the most current articles, it's got an AI voice that reads it and I think there's two different voices as well, so it's not just the same presenter the whole time, and it's really, really interesting to kind of hear how it presents stories, because it is quite dry, as you would expect. It's very factual and it's here's what happened and blah, blah blah.

19:39

But I think and I think we talked about this one, you know, when we had our call before is that I guess there are two types of journalism. There's the factual stories about you know, it's again. It's the sports, the weather, the traffic, all that sort of stuff. It's what happened at the city council last night. How did they vote? All that sort of stuff is kind of one level. But then you have the storytelling aspect to it and I think that's what that's really what you're focusing and what you're talking about is that that storytelling element might actually become. It's gonna be even more important for humans to do that. So how far away do you think AI is from being able to do more of the actual storytelling aspect, and have you seen anything around that? Have you seen any tools? Have you tried anything to see if it, if it can do the more storytelling aspect? I mean, obviously it can't go out and interview people and do the digging, but can it help support on actually writing the stories, or do you think that's still really entirely a human thing?

20:41 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

ng to another study from June:

21:48

so that's huge and we'll observe like more and more, you know, magazines or outlets that are like purely created by AI, and I mean robots can do interviews, and there is one Swedish company, I think they're called United Robots, that designs those robots who can, who or that, I don't know. You know which word to use. That's tricky. Who can, like interview real people or interview other robots prepared by people before? So you know, if you're writing a case study for your company blog, probably, like in two years, you won't have to speak to anyone to prepare it, because you will train your robot, they will train their robot and robots will talk.

22:34 - David Brown (Host)

That would be amazing, and it'll be able to make a video and an audio and everything to go with it. You literally won't have to do anything, brina.

22:42 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, but the second thing I wanted to talk about is that, at the same time, people are really becoming more demanding when it comes to news. They no longer look just for updates or for, like, conventional storytelling. They want also to be educated on certain topics, and sometimes they want to be educated on those topics by specific people. I think we'll have, you know, ai influencers or AI superstars in journalists as well, but that might take time and I think they will, like never replace the best storytellers and the best journalists.

23:28

We hope, because it's actually that you know, we love technology because it helps us connect with other people and when we like certain titles or we like certain blogs or Instagram accounts or news because of certain people who work there, so we follow them. We want them to explain the world to us. We just don't want to be just updated, but to be entertained, to be shown the context of the whole thing and like look at the influencer business at market. I mean, we follow people and we buy stuff they advertise because they advertise it, yeah, yeah. So I think that that's something very hard to be taken away from us and, as much as AI is good at storytelling, there will always be like influencers and followers.

24:44 - David Brown (Host)

Oh, maybe not always, but in like the next decade, I think we'll see, there will always that'll always happen, because that's how humans are. Yeah, I mean, that's just how humans are.

24:55 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, we just like connecting with people, and I think that in this ultra technological world, where we all sitting in front of our screens and spending like most of our time online, there is this need of connection with a human, and I think we have to take care of that for our own good, as societies, as humanity. I know big words, but these are big questions.

25:28 - David Brown (Host)

Yeah, they are and it's, I think. I don't know how it is there, but here, certainly after the lockdown, I think what happened is we saw like a lot of the kids didn't, you know, didn't, weren't able to go to school. They studied at home, online or, you know, the parents helped them or whatever, and it had a huge impact on them. I think and what was interesting is my son in particular is because he did a lot of online gaming and he played online with all of his friends anyway. So when he was, when they were in lockdown, literally all they did was they just sat online and talked to each other anyway.

26:08

So it wasn't much different than maybe us back in the day when we were, we just talked to our mates on the telephone all the time. So it's, and actually a lot of the times they would play a video game together. So what they do is they play the video game online, they hop on Discord or something and they chat on Discord while they're doing it like on a, you know, just as a group chat, and so they were able to stay in contact. But there certainly is this thing where they don't, or at least in what I'm watching from my son and his group of friends is there was a period where they were very reluctant to go out and they didn't wanna go out, they didn't wanna meet with each other and everything.

26:50

But all of a sudden they're now I think they're all realizing that hey, actually meeting with each other in person is actually kinda cool and they really like it. And so there's like herds of children, you know young adults, adolescents out all around town all the time and they're all just hanging out in big groups and which I've know I haven't even seen in the past. Well, I've lived in Tumbridge Wells for like 12 years now and I've never seen anything like it, and it's just happened in the last year or so. So I guess I'm sort of agreeing with you and saying that there's I think there's hope for people that you know we do actually, as humans, really need that person to person contact. And you know it's why I come into the office every day, because I just prefer being in a space where there are other people. Working at home is fine sometimes, but I just find that I prefer it being with somebody I don't know. Are you seeing the same kind of thing there?

27:51 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, I can relate to a lot of what you're saying. I'm a very social person and I also work at home right now, so you know I have to somehow organize my free time. So I really like go out and meet actual people because it's really important to me.

28:10

But, I think that it's going to be like a great generational challenge, and I hear from different people that engaging in real, meaningful relationships will be a biggest challenge for the young generation, because it requires not only effort but it also requires your readiness for the possibility of being rejected.

28:37

I mean, if you function only in online groups with people you like and they like you, it's like a different story than like being in a group of people that some might like you, some don't, and so on. So you know, if you, if you, if you want to engage in a relationship with an AI generated man or woman, then you'll be always accepted and held, and so on. If you engage in the real life relationship, there's always a risk of failure and that's, that's huge. I attended a conference last month and there was a great talk by Scott Galloway who told the audience that he actually makes his two sons talk to strangers every time they go out on the work and sometimes it's very painful and it's you know, it's, it's, it's really hard, but he wants them to, to make those connections, even like I don't know, asking for change, or asking what time it is, and so on.

29:50 - David Brown (Host)

I do, I literally do exactly the same thing with my son when we go out, I always have him order, you know, make sure that he orders his own food and that he talks to people and then he talks to people in the shops and all that sort of stuff, and I didn't even realize that was a thing.

30:05

I just thought that was kind of you know the right thing to do, but it just seems to make sense and he's from having done that. But I've done that his whole life, not specifically because you know of COVID and lockdowns and everything else, it's just because I think I want him to be comfortable talking to people, even if he's a little bit introverted. I still want him to be able to have the, the ability and the skill to be able to do that, because I think it's important. And I mean I I grew up in the south in the US and we talk we'll talk everybody's ear off, as everybody on the podcast who's listening knows, but anyway, yeah, so it's interesting that there are other people doing that on on purpose.

30:46 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, and coming back to journalism, I mean how interesting an interview made by a robot, interviewing robot, like how interesting it would be. Is it something we want, like I know we live, I don't like. We live in the capitalistic world. We need to make money, media needs to make money, but is it, like you know, is it, is it all? Is it the sense of of that all? I don't believe. I don't believe it because you can't, you can't just change human nature that easily.

31:22

And like all the research, like there is this Cambridge research that has been lasting for 80 years. It's a research on happiness, what makes people happy, and the answer is like they don't change. You know, they don't change much like what makes us happy in life. It's, it's love, family relations, being kind to ourselves. It's, it's, it's that. So our nature is not that flexible and in all this, in all this race, in all this digital acceleration, I think it's even more important to cultivate, cultivate those values and and this, this, this human perspective, it just it's, somehow, it seems right for the world if we really want to live in a better world, because technology can make our world better. I, I, I have no doubts, but we need people behind it and we need like people in all, all the contexts it creates yeah, 100, and what do you're?

32:27 - David Brown (Host)

I know you mentioned before. You know that you talked to people that you'd worked with you know a long while back. That was still more in traditional journalism. What do they think like? What's the conversation that you have when you go out for drinks or you're having dinner together or something, when it's just in a casual what's sort of the? What's their opinion? How does what direction does the conversation go? Is it? Is everybody worried about it? Or does everybody think, wow, this is really cool because we can do a bunch more research faster? Or, you know, are they using it to learn from, or I don't know what's? What are those conversations like?

33:05 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

it's interesting because I am. I'm observing how it has changed since, let's say, last year, when judge GPT launched. So at the beginning there was this huge hype oh, it's going to write you know all the boring stuff for me it's going, you know, to write article. I will just go make myself a coffee. So we saw those, yeah, like magazines generated by AI, some experiments that some online media published, you know.

33:37

Okay, so today our editor in chief is AI and here's what he serves us. And then, of course, there were questions like will it outperform humans, will it replace journalists? And now I, I have a like feeling, and it's not just feeling, but what I see proves that this hype is going down a little bit, because we already know what AI can do right now. Yeah, all the things that we've mentioned speed up the work. I do redundant tasks, and but more and more people are being skeptical because you really have to spend a lot of time training judge GPT or any other model to make it produce like really good content. It's not that easy, because the content it produces now it's still quite generic, and sometimes I use judge GPT every day, almost every day in my work, but sometimes I get frustrated because it takes me more time to prompt it properly than it would take me to, you know, write the damn paragraph myself yeah, there is always.

34:53 - David Brown (Host)

There is always, that, that's for sure yeah yeah, but um, it's, it's, it's.

34:59 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

It's a huge help, especially if, um, you know you're struggling with with some ideas, or you don't know how to start, or you just need some like little brainstorming. Um, because every creative job, I think you'll agree, is you can't be creative like 24 hours a day and seven days a week. You need also this time of not doing, not thinking or doing nothing, because, uh, it's, it's just not possible to have, like brilliant ideas. You know one after another. So judge, gpt of course, helps, yeah, um, but I'd say that the, the attitude is, um, quite, um, this distant right now. It's, it's, not um, it's.

35:52

I think people realized that, um, they are not in such danger maybe as they thought it would put them, at least for now. Um, because they are still cheaper than AI, probably, um, but generally I see that um, journalists, you know they, they experienced a lot of burnout, a lot of um feelings that are connected to with, with the loss of sense in, in what they are doing, because nobody just wants to be, you know, a machine making money. Um, they, people want to like, do something meaningful in life, and it's getting harder and harder in journalism. Uh, yeah, because there is this race. There is this impact on goals, on numbers, on daily outcomes uh, how many page views, how many users, um, and so on. And um, I think that, um, after 10, 15 years, just like me, like many people, you know they, they, they, they, they switch to something similar marketing or PR or other um jobs or domains where they can still use their creativity. They can still use technology, um, but they can like slow their pace a little bit.

37:26

And um, another thing is that some people actually uh have also like bigger problems to worry about than just AI. Uh, because, like take Poland, like past 10 years we had conservative uh government of law and justice in power and they totally monopolized public tv and public radio. So for eight years, people who worked there either believed in you know everything the government said or they pretended they did not to lose their jobs. So, eight years of propaganda and eight years of you know, manipulative um content and and now, like most of them, you know, they fear about their jobs because the government is going to change um. And then, uh, like there were also people who watched this tv for eight years and some of them, like didn't have other sources of knowledge.

38:28

So you know that's that's like a big thing to, to, to manage. I mean public media, that's huge power, right and um. And when I, when I talk to like people also in other countries, then they have also like other problems than just AI. Um, even, you know, even like in the topics that some of them you know were how is it called that their conversations were overhead or that you know they did with some trials for defamation or something.

39:11

So there are like, still a lot of problems that are present in the discussion, and AI is just one of them, but it will be, of course, very interesting to see, like, what's up in the future.

39:29 - David Brown (Host)

It's interesting that you brought up politics, because I just had a conversation yesterday and I think the conversation I had will probably be the week before yours, but she's a lady who works for the UK government in Washington DC and one of the things that we talked about was the change in politics, because the US has a big election coming up this year, mexico has a big election coming up this year, the UK has a big election coming up this next year and so it's widely expected in, certainly in the UK, that we're going to go from a conservative government to a Labour government, so we're going to have a complete not complete 180, but we're certainly going to have a change in the approach of the government and the politics and the things that they focus on.

40:15

And it's exactly like you were saying. One of the one of the big areas of focus for the current government is, you know, the current government wants to be a world leader in AI. We want, you know, the UK to be the leader in in driving the, the conversation about regulation and all that sort of stuff. But we may get a new government next year and that new government may not have that as a focus. They may be focused on entirely different things, like the rail strikes and the NHS strikes and the public sector, you know, and a whole other set of priorities, and so it's really interesting that you say that, because, yeah, there is, you know, we like to, I like to live in this little AI bubble that I'm in and you know everybody's worried about AI all the time. But you're absolutely right, you know, not everybody thinks about AI 24 seven and it's it's not always the first thing, you know, on the top of everybody's mind.

41:07 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, especially that in newsrooms really have like bigger, bigger, like technological problems than lack of presence of AI and from our conversations at Authentica, you know, we heard a lot of times that, oh, ai, maybe it's not for us or it's not the right timing.

41:30

Because sometimes, you know, I think that, like, no newsroom has, as I said, like implemented, has implemented like real AI strategy, it's all you know. People use it just by themselves. There is no, like you know, a guideline that, okay, we use this tool, some band use of chat GPT that's like what I know because they don't want, you know, their content to be written by chat GPT, some band chat GPT, from scraping and reading their, their, their news, like, I think, times, new York, the New York times, the Guardian, so they don't want AI to be trained or on their content. But in many newsrooms, like, the real problem is not like lack of AI or presence of AI or help of AI, but the lack of like really efficient tools for some basic journalistic processes. And I'm not exaggerating because I know I know a big newsroom that is dealing with a problem of disappearing paragraphs. The system sometimes cuts out the last paragraph of the article.

42:38

And then you know, a journalist writes text, submits it to the editor and the editor says where the hell is the last paragraph? Why this story?

42:45 - David Brown (Host)

doesn't end.

42:46 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

The system you know. So if you have such a bug and you cannot fix it, then that's a problem, yeah, or there are CMSs that, like, don't have auto safe mode, so people use word or Google Docs to write their stories because they are afraid they will lose their their their whole work.

43:04

So sometimes it's really like, not the question of you know AI tools and some fancy wizards, but the question of, like, some basic infrastructure and many media are still working on software that you know that was developed 20, 25 years ago and again it's. It's I'm not exaggerating, and this is still a standard in, in, in many newsrooms in, at least in Central Eastern Europe, and I think that you know the further it's the same here southeast, you go, it's the same. The worst.

43:39 - David Brown (Host)

Yeah.

43:39 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

And, as I say, like still still many newsrooms operate, as I call it, with string and pencil. And then a couple of months ago I talked to a guy who runs a small team in Nigeria and you know he told me what, ai, we have power outages every day here and I cannot do, you know, put something online, because I don't have, like backup power source.

44:09 - David Brown (Host)

Yeah, yeah, what are we talking about? No, you're absolutely right, and it's, it's good, and I'm glad you mentioned it actually because, like I said, you know, we these conversations focus on, you know, very much the kind of the UK, the US and that sort of Western Europe type thing where we generally don't have those sorts of issues, but the rest of the world isn't, isn't like that. And so this, this, this could be a very focused sort of issue on a on on one particular region of the world, that's for sure.

44:38 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, but also I think that you know there are, and they're always, there will always be, pioneers. I mean, many media organizations are, at the same time, tech organizations. They have like good design development teams, like solid IT structures and they can come up with their own solutions, like financial times, the Guardian, new York Times, like big titles, but of course they are, you know, top of the top. But there are also local media, regional media, and first of all, they don't have that kind of money. Then they might not have the kind of talent internally to build you know a required solutions to. So they they are using, like you know, market market ready product, for example.

45:29

But again, it's like those big holdings, those big media groups are not the only media that exists in the world. We like to think like that, but in many countries these are actually local and regional media that are like more important to people because of course we care about what's going on, you know, in the government, but we care most about things that are like closest to us, our town, our neighborhood, like like what's happening locally. So I think it's also something we need to acknowledge, that that there are different kinds of media and probably we'll see those two speed, two speeds.

46:21

Yeah yeah, be that it will transform and progress fast and those that will somehow stay behind. But again, that's, that's nothing new.

46:33 - David Brown (Host)

No, you're right, that's always been that way I think it's always been that way.

46:37

So all of that actually leads into and we have to talk about ethics, because if we don't talk about ethics, everybody will yell at us afterwards because it's obviously a huge question and it's a big, it's a, it's a consideration that everybody has to have, and I think it's particularly sensitive around journalism as well, because you're delivering news, you're and in a lot of instances you're delivering opinion and everything else that goes with it, or maybe not opinion, but some sort of a viewpoint about, you know, explaining what's happened and what that means and what the context is. What are your thoughts on? On the ethics of sort of using AI? I mean, copyright and IP is one thing, which is a whole kind of separate discussion, but it just I don't know what's the what's the ethical, what's the ethical discussion like in within the journalistic circles?

47:32 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

I think this is something that you know is treated like this that rat in the room and nobody really. You know you need to take it out, but you don't want to and nobody no one wants to do it.

47:51

I know that EU is working on some kind of European guidelines for media in terms of AI and ethics. In Poland, we have just seen a launch of new organizations and association of digital publishers and their first goal that's what they say is to prepare some kind of ethical guidelines for newsrooms. I think the problem is that we really, you know, we don't know what are the mid and long term consequences of using AI and, like how far those algorithms go. And that's that's the hard part, because, of course, we can, we can prepare some guidelines. We can always say that if we have a human story, then a human editor needs to read it at the end, because it might be something delicate.

48:55

I also saw a research study on the analysis, actually, of guidelines for AI in 52 newsrooms and most of them, like, were said to lack teeth and be like, very vague and very general. So I think that we're just really nowhere with this topic for now, because that's the paradox is that AI can be as dumb or as smart as we are and as we train it, and what we can do, I think, is to include, you know, in all those teams building AI models, in all those teams preparing ethical guidelines. We should include, like people from different backgrounds, with different education, tech people, but also lawyers, but also journalists, and also women women in tech because otherwise we'll have, you know, ai trained by our patriarchal, patriarchal system that will be biased, as like still like our world is in many, in many aspects. So I think we really need diversity in those teams, in people who work with AI, and I'm not sure whether it's possible to you know, to create AI that will be free of bias.

50:33

No, I'm no expert. I don't know how you do it. Really, I think that it can help in detecting gender bias, or political bias, or political polarization, maybe. Yeah, because even now, I think there is some kind of add on to X platform that shows all this. This tweet is like a bias. This is, or this is, fake news, or this is probably the community guidelines, things where people can add to it and say yeah and add extra information to it.

51:10 - David Brown (Host)

I know what you mean. It's really handy. Actually, I like that. That was a good addition to the platform, I thought.

51:14 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah. So I hope it will become a standard and here you know this. This, let's say, will have this ethical AI maybe, and seeing like how limited and restrained like the open net really is I mean, you can't, you know, show a picture of a painted painting with naked woman, because it will be marked as some sexual content Then I think those algorithms might have the opposite effect. They might somehow maybe even show us less than we could see.

52:06 - David Brown (Host)

It's interesting because and I think the little break we could spend like three hours just talking about this.

52:12 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah.

52:13 - David Brown (Host)

I think. The interesting thing, though, is I think the question that we have to answer as a society is at the minute, what it is is it's a mirror, I think, and so what we're seeing is we're just looking at the data, as the data is, and what we're seeing we don't like because people are biased. It's a fact, and so we have to make a decision of how we want the AI to be. Do we want it to show us a vision of the world as we think?

52:43

we want it to be, or do we want it to show us the world as it is? Because if we start removing the bias that's in the data and we have it sort of tweak that somehow and give us different results, then what it's doing is it's now showing us a fictitious view of what the world is like, and do we want that? Or do we actually want to see the ugly truth that's behind it? Yeah, exactly.

53:10

Because, when we see the ugly truth, at least we can talk about it and we can say well, we need to do something to change how this works so that the data will then start to show it naturally. And it's a big question, and I don't know the answer to that Me neither.

53:27 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

And it's big and it's really complicated because there are so many little paths that you have to examine and take into account, or even the very essence of who is responsible for those AI models. I mean, what kind of people work there. There was an article by Time that reported that OpenAI used Kenyan workers to improve GDP safety and they paid them, like nothing, $2 per hour. Or there was this movie about Filipino internet sweepers who removed that explicit content from various platforms. So that's like another rabbit hole, another world to examine. So it's such a huge topic. I don't know. Maybe we should have, like we have, this world atomic agency, maybe we should have the world AI agency and some smart people there who could somehow control it on a high level. So that I've heard those comparisons that AI is like nuclear energy and it only depends on us how we use it.

54:49

So maybe it would make sense to really put smart people together and ensure that we use this technology according to some like standards that are really human rights standards and that we don't violate them.

55:14 - David Brown (Host)

No, it's amazing that you said that as well, because I was at an event earlier this year and the challenge with ethics, of course, is whose ethics do you use? Because different parts of the world have different ideas about what's right and wrong. But I'm trying to remember the lady's name. I'll try and remember it and put it in the show notes, but her point was exactly what you just said. Which is the place we have to start is the human rights aspect, because we do have global agreement on human rights, and so when we start to come up with those global rules about AI, we have to start with those human rights framework, and that's the basis that we then start to build on, which I thought was really interesting, so I'm glad you got there as well.

55:54 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, I think it was also in your episode. In the episode we've shared in Matthew, he also talked about that. That we need human rights as some fundamentals for all AI regulations.

56:08 - David Brown (Host)

Yeah, shout out to Sharon.

56:11

Right just one last little bit, so thank you for your time today. We're pushing on to an hour so I'm conscious I don't want to take up your whole day. So just to sort of wind up the conversation. We've talked about a lot of stuff so far, but if you had to sort of distill it down into some words of advice or some sort of future vision, what would that be to maybe people who are getting into journalism or who are thinking about it? Like, what would you say to those people now? Maybe students are at university or whatever?

56:46 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, I think the first thing is don't study journalism, because it's true, it can be studied. You know, you learn it in practice and experience is everything. I mean. Go study, I don't know creative writing or some interesting part of the world, but I truly believe that studying journalism might be a waste of time because, again, people have those aspirations that they want to change the world and they then end up in the newsroom writing weather reports, and it's not what journalism is all about.

57:30

So I think that the best recipe is actually to find your thing, to find your niche, to find something that truly interests you and sparks this interest in you, because journalism is really it's a hard job.

57:43

It's not an easy piece of bread, and if you think that you can be a journalist and just sit in the newsroom and write articles with some help of AI, maybe you should now look for another job, because that won't bring you happiness and fulfillment. And it's also hard because it's still. You know you need to really talk to a lot of people, call a lot of people, be really like. You know pride in someone's life sometimes, so it brings a lot of also responsibility and you have to have a thick skin, but it can be, of course, very rewarding, because from time to time, you can do a really good thing for your community, for your, for a hero of your story or even for your country, and that's what makes it so special. Still, and I think that it's really like, the basic mistake people make is that they think it's easy and that it's like only writing articles, writing stories, and it's not.

59:06 - David Brown (Host)

No, it's way more complicated than that.

59:08 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

Yeah, you have to be really creative and you really have to have your own ideas, and sometimes it's like hard to come up with an idea. But of course, if you know, if it calls, then then then go for it because we'll need, like, smart people who could explain the world to us. But really starting media history maybe not, might not be the best idea.

59:40 - David Brown (Host)

So become a specialist in some area and then use that to and be curious.

59:45 - Joanna Kocik (Guest)

you know, I think we need like everyone who wants to be a journalist needs to have this curiosity, this kind of wonder mindset that you know you go out on a walk and you see, you know seven topics that you could write about because I don't know, you see a poster somewhere on the wall, you see you talk to someone. So I think this is crucial to have this wonder mindset and look at the world with eyes of a child, so that you cultivate this curiosity inside and yeah, that's it.

::

Love it. I think that's great advice. Okay, so just quickly a few quick, far questions at the end that I like to ask everybody, just out of personal interest more than anything else. So in your mind, do you envision AI as being male or female?

::

I think male, unfortunately.

::

Okay, interesting. Is there a particular reason?

::

I think, because in Polish we have to use inflections. So if you say, could you have to define the gender and when, I talk to chat GPT. I usually ask in masculine form, interesting, okay.

::

And well, that's a that's a great point actually does? Does AI or artificial intelligence, does that have a gender in the language, or is it neutral? Or, do you like, like French, everything is either male or female, right.

::

Feminine, but we say AI, which is, you know, like, like an abbreviation. So it's hard, but, of course, like the way you speak defines the way you look at the world. So I don't know. I also have this feeling that, you know, these are really like men who've been working on all those models and I'd like to see more women in the topic of AI.

::

I was, I was at a fringe event a couple of weeks ago. That was women in AI, and it was a very small group and it was a very small gathering and I was privileged to be the only man that was there, but there were sort of 38 women who were founding companies or or working as engineers, like software engineers and data engineers. So there is a, there is a small community of women who are doing it, but it's certainly not large enough. So I totally agree with you there. So the next question then to follow that one is is when you have an AI personal assistant, what do you think you might name it?

::

Hmm, Well, I don't know.

::

Sorry, what was that?

::

I like the name.

::

Steven Steven okay.

::

Or Steve maybe. Okay, interesting I like it.

::

No, it's great, it's great. I just some people come up with very fancy classical names and some people I mean I always joke that I call it Jeff Just because it's.

::

It's sort of a humorous thing that I've always done with software and anytime I build a software tool, I call it Jeff for some reason In Polish Steven is quite an old school name but brings like good memories as of you know, your grandpas and things like that. So yeah, maybe that's a good idea.

::

I like it, okay, cool. And just the last one is thinking about the future, maybe 50, 100 years from now. You know there's been a lot of films over time that have sort of given us a sci-fi vision of the future, whether it's Star Trek and you know, being the utopia and there's no money and everybody's peaceful and you know we're out flying around the universe, or there's kind of Mad Max on the other end, where society is completely broken down, there's no, there's nothing left in its chaos. And then there's all the stuff in between, the cyber punks and all that sort of thing in the middle. And I'm just curious what, if you had to choose a, some sort of a film, maybe, or some sort of sci-fi vision of what the future might be, what, what you think you would choose?

::

My dream would be to live in the world from the avatar way of water, the first part of the movie you know when you're in symbiosis with, with the whole nature and you're like always connected and you can communicate to trees and flowers and all living creatures and you only take as much as you can give back.

::

So that's my utopia.

::

But I'm afraid that we're going to witness some severe conflicts based on global warming and the climate change, because some parts of the world in 100 years will be just impossible to live in.

::

And since our number is still growing and I think the UN said that we're going to reach like 12 billion people, that will be like the peak of the number of people on Earth and then I think that we're rather facing a very ugly scenario of the future, probably with great divisions between people. I mean a small group of very rich individuals who enjoy peace, comfort and everything they need, and the rest who are fighting for even survival. But I strongly I want to like believe in this version really, because I see that more and more people you know are in this state of awakening and realizing that, hey, it can't just go on like that forever. We have to do something, and I really, really hope that we'll come back to seeing the world as like something you know given to us to take care of, not something we can like, exploit, like, without any consequences. So I'm hoping for that.

::

I love it. That's a good, that's a good thing to hope for and it's up. I think it's. It's very much up to us, as the current society, to hopefully set some, some ground rules that will help us get to that at some point in the future. But I suspect.

::

You're right. I think we'll see some civil unrest at some point, some serious civil unrest. That will be a combination of factors. It will be it's not going to be just because of AI. It's going to be because of a whole load of things, all you know, combined into one. And if, if we do get growing population but also shrinking places that we can live, there's going to be a lot more competition for for the nicer places and places that people can be, and we know how that's turned out historically.

::

But, um, yeah, and technology. Technology won't be, you know, the solution to this pain. It won't be like an answer.

::

No, no, it might help with some of the, some of the things but it's not.

::

it's not going to help with all of it. Joanna, thank you very much. It's been a really, really great conversation. I've really enjoyed it, and thanks for your time today and hopefully at some point we can maybe loop back around. I'm sure there'll be some massive story about journalism and you know something will happen. Either, you know, some news group will get caught using AI, or or there'll be some massive breakthrough that that we'll want to talk about. But you're you're welcome to come back anytime.

::

Thanks so much. It was a pleasure. And yeah, let's, let's, let's meet again sometime.

::

And hopefully next time I'm in Poland I'll I'll, I'll message you and hopefully we can meet up and have a coffee or something. That'd be great.

::

Yeah, with pleasure, with pleasure.

::

Grant. Thanks, Joanna.

::

Thank you very much, bye, bye, bye.

About the Podcast

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Creatives With AI
The spiritual home of creatives curious about AI and its role in their future

About your host

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David Brown

A technology entrepreneur with over 25 years' experience in corporate enterprise, working with public sector organisations and startups in the technology, digital media, data analytics, and adtech industries. I am deeply passionate about transforming innovative technology into commercial opportunities, ensuring my customers succeed using innovative, data-driven decision-making tools.

I'm a keen believer that the best way to become successful is to help others be successful. Success is not a zero-sum game; I believe what goes around comes around.

I enjoy seeing success — whether it’s yours or mine — so send me a message if there's anything I can do to help you.