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AI, algorithms, and automation changing our media landscape

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 29 September 2021

News and other media platforms in Australia and elsewhere face growing challenges from automated decision-making, but the future is not all bad say researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society gathering this week for a conference on the topic.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) News and Media Research Symposium is an in-person and online event on 30 September and 1 October, hosted at the QUT Kelvin Grove campus.

Speakers include Professor Axel Bruns, an internationally renowned Internet researcher in QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre, who will present early findings of the Australian Search Experience project involving ADM+S researchers and the international research and advocacy organisation AlgorithmWatch.

The symposium will be launching the anticipated Australian Ad Observatory project led by Professor Mark Andrejevic (Monash University). The Australian Ad Observatory is investigating the potential harms of customised targeted advertising online. The project uses a data donation model to collect the ads that users are being served on Facebook.

Other topics being covered over the two days include news and automation, digital inclusion and media use in remote First Nations communities, Facebook advertising, automated content curation and moderation, and platform governance on matters relating to race, gender, and sexuality.

Professor Bruns said news and media was chosen as the first of four focus areas over the lifetime of the ADM+S Centre because automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence already posed some crucial challenges for this industry, and that further research on these topics was urgently required.

“What we couldn’t have anticipated at the time was the extent to which acute events like the COVID-19 pandemic would raise the stakes in the battle against disinformation,” Professor Bruns said.

Along with Professor Bruns, other ADM+S-linked speakers include the Centre’s director Professor Julian Thomas (RMIT), Professor Jean Burgess (QUT), Professor Axel Bruns (QUT), Matthias Spielkamp (AlgorithmWatch),  Professor Wiebke Loosen (Hans Bredow Institute), Edson Tandoc Jr. (Nanyang Technological University), Dr Robyn Caplan (Data & Society), Russell Skelton (RMIT ABC Fact Check) Simon Elvery (ABC), Professor Mark Andrejevic (Monash University), Professor Daniel Angus (QUT), Professor Kath Albury (Swinburne University), Dr Timothy Graham (QUT), Professor Bronwyn Carlson (Macquarie University), Dr Rosalie Gillett (QUT) and Dr Jeffrey Chan (RMIT).

Joining the symposium, with expertise in their respective fields, are guest speakers Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism), David Tomchak (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), Diat Alferink (Torres Strait Islander Media Association), and Dennis Stokes (First Nations Media Australia).

ADM+S was established in 2019 to investigate how rapidly emerging autonomous decision-making technologies, already replacing human judgement in health, social services, transport, and the media, are impacting on society.

Headquartered at RMIT, it connects researchers and other experts from nine Australian universities, and 22 academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America.

See the full program and register to attend the symposium online at the ARC Centre of Excellence | Automated Decision Making | ADM+S (admscentre.org.au/researchsymposium).

Originally published as QUT Media release Media landscape now shaped by AI, algorithms, and automation

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