This article about The Washington Post’s use of robots to generate news items during the ongoing Olympics is interesting (Axel Winter, thanks for sharing). I find it interesting for two reasons i) the evolution of content management technology and ii) the implications for societies in an increasingly post-factual world.
The advances in technology are remarkable and exciting as we continue our evolution to a digital society. (I recall the early days of ‘story servers’ in Vignette and advanced capabilities of Dynamo and Broadvision). I wish technology adoption could go even faster (Espen Andersen writes well on the slow progress in digitalisation). However I’m not going to elaborate on the technology other than restate my mantra that “So far IT has been mainly about the T and less about the I”.
The implications are more severe than I earlier blogged about (on the need for more Critical Thinking and a world of Robotic Journalism). The rise of agnotology as witnessed by Brexit, the popularity of Trump and rise of tyrants seem to point to the need for more transparency that ultimately builds trust ..that is if we are ever going to progress the ideals of democracy, inclusion and self-governance. In a digital era this means digital trust.
I believe that digital trust is not possible without impartial actors playing the roles of mediator, fact-checker and regulator. Algorithmic regulation in platforms is therefore not just a nice-to-have but a must-have requirement for societies seeking to harness the power of digitalisation. This serves an exciting challenge to technology companies, professional associations and public service agencies to collaborate. To collaborate towards creating an environment and culture that creates value for all members of society; not just the elite.
Failure to drive digital trust will most likely make the information revolution a violent revolution. As this article claims, history may not be on our side, so we need to work hard and fast.