Perhaps one of the most talked about fields in computer science today is that of artificial intelligence. Whether in cliché eighties movies, depicting the violent overthrow of man by machine, or in our modern political climate, where elected officials debate the qualms of AI and unemployment, the subject is ever present. However, what is often overlooked in such grandiose characterizations of artificial intelligence, is the practical effects which the technology can have on several segments of our society.
One such segment is content creation, where artificial intelligence has helped open the door to personalized, succinct and entertaining content across the internet. Contrary to common belief, there are already many instances of AI helping produce content. However, due to the relatively new and rapidly developing nature of artificial intelligence, the future holds even more opportunity for it to impact the industry.
Before delving into what the future of content creation may look like, it is important to take a step back and evaluate how artificial intelligence has shaped the field over the past few years. One of the most notable technological improvements for content creation has been natural language processing, or NLP. NLP is a relatively new tool whereby one can evaluate feedback from users automatically. NLP technology is generally presented in the form of a software package. Content creators can use these packages to see how users are responding to their content nearly instantaneously.
For example, a blogger can use an NLP software model in order to see how her audience responds to different subjects that she blogs about. Depending on her findings, she may change what she writes about: If she sees that her readers enjoy reading about say, travel, compared to other subjects, she may choose to blog about travel more often (or even consider making a new blog that is exclusively about travel).
The implications of such trends are drastic: Content creators of all kinds can now better cater to their user base simply by knowing precisely what it is that they like and dislike the most. This has led to more personalized and relevant content for users, and larger audiences for creators.
As interesting as this technology is, many scientists believe that this is only the beginning of the use of AI in consumer industries such as content creation. Many believe that over the next decade or so, AI will not only be able to evaluate user feedback, but will be able to aid in the creation of the content itself. This has several implications for industry, many of which are extremely fascinating and consequential.
One such technology is the use of a model dubbed “Reinforcement by Learning.” This is a system that, when implemented on a web page, can essentially create new content based on the users’ feedback. For example, if a news website employing one of these models was used by a college student, the model would automatically display — and even create — content that is generally more favorable to the “college student” demographic. Furthermore, the model would determine what articles this user responded the most, and then analyze the particular features of those articles that attracted the user to it in the first place. It will then be able to use more of these features when writing future articles for this user.
Other technologies are also being developed in order to streamline the creation of other forms of media. For instance, there now exist software packages that can create new music, paint canvas, take photographs, and even sculpt marble. These developments will allow for user personalization and convenience to exist in the creative spheres as well. Imagine, for example, that a music streaming app could create brand new music, based on the feedback you gave to it. This sort of technological advancement would revolutionize the way we perceive art — and as a result — the way we perceive society as a whole.
Technologies like these are exciting because they will fundamentally change the way that we approach the content creation model. These days, content creators attempt to reach as wide an audience as possible. This causes many problems, most notably rendering said content bland and generic. However, with the advent of new intelligent technology, media organizations will be able to easily tailor products to individual consumers. This not only reduces overhead for the company, but significantly augments the end users’ experiences as well.
However, the recent emergence of such technology is not without controversy. Many argue that artificial intelligence will essentially wipe out any inkling of user privacy. In order for the aforementioned algorithms to work correctly, they will require an almost endless supply of information, most notably from the end user. This means that all the details of a users’ internet consumption will need to be accessible by content creators. The fact that the vast majority of media consumed today comes from large multinational corporation only adds to the concern that this information will be used in less than benevolent ways.
Already, large companies like Alphabet Inc — the parent company of Google — make the vast majority of their profit from collecting and utilizing user data. More recently, companies such as Facebook Inc have been discovered abusing such data in order to make additional profit. This naturally raises even more concern as critics of AI argue that this new technology will only make it easier for user data to be used unethically.
However, this issue, while serious, should not repress the development of such technology. Already, we have seen that concrete steps can be taken in order to ensure that data is not abused by corporate entities. One such way is through proper legal and regulatory action: By passing laws which protect consumers, we can strike a compromise between using powerful technology, and insuring that it is not used maliciously. For example, the European Union has recently required that Facebook comply with government watchdogs to ensure data is not used in unauthorized ways. This will go a long way in holding companies responsible for user data.
Another concern regarding AI and content creation is, as already mentioned, its tendency to personalize content for the individual user. While at first glance this personalization may be seen as strictly beneficial, it can cause certain problems. Namely, some sociologists argue that user-tailored content will cause individuals to fall into a so-called “bubble” or isolation. This phenomenon, they claim, can lead political, socioeconomic, and cultural divides in our society.
However, there are ways where this issue can be mitigated as well. One solution could encompass the design of the AI models themselves: Algorithms could be created that would balance user interest with content exposure. More specifically, these algorithms could expose users to content that interests them while also allowing them to discover material that is outside their normal domain of discourse.
Overall, artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the content creation industry. Even today, models such as natural language processing have proved effective in increasing user engagement. Moreover, as new technology continues to develop, content users will have even more tools at their disposal to enhance user experience. And while this new technology may raise concerns about privacy and corporate ethics, proper oversight and regulation can help mitigate such issues and ensure that AI will be used as a force for good.
James Gorski – In addition to being the editor at designrfix and writing about tech, web and graphic design among other subjects, I love “unplug” and be outdoors hiking and enjoying nature. If you can’t reach me, it’s probably because where I am at doesn’t have cell phone reception.
Featured image taken from Pixabay.com