Die Welt: The Responsible Citizen’s Torch

In his speech at the BDZV (Bundesverband Deutscher Zeitungsverleger) annual conference 2017, Matthias Döpfner refers to a conversation with Arago CEO Chris Boos about the future role of Artificial Intelligence in society. The speech was later published in the online version of German daily Die Welt and among others summarized by Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

Döpfner reports on his meetings with Chris Boos and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. He asked both if AI will surpass the capabilities of human intelligence one day. Boos states: “This will definitely happen. But don’t be afraid, we’ll live like animals in a zoo. We’ll be fine and have enough food. The important decisions are just taken by machines.” Also Berners-Lee sees such a development just as a question of time. Döpfner summarizes that on the one hand, digitalization has the potential for being a technological milestone like the invention of the wheel. On the other hand, it could become a new instrument of oppression. He reflects further by arguing that humans could make independent decisions from their digital devices, but they are more and more trained to software offering better recommendations for basic decisions. Döpfner calls this the ‘dilemma of the better alternatives’ and puts the future of the peoples’ free will into question.

In the context of his industry he elaborates further: How to cope with the new power of numbers? How to write texts in the context of real-time readership statistics, and how to handle news platforms that only deliver content confirming ones existing prejudices? As a response to these challenges, Döpfner proposes two things: He wants the BDZV to formulate common goals for media policies and he advocates for investment of his industry in investigative journalism and digital technologies.

Döpfner reflects as well on Elon Musk and his billion-dollar fund to fight the dangers of artificial intelligence. He argues that Musk’s gloomy visions about the AI’s negative impact on mankind are particularly relevant, since journalism is directly affected by it.

Click here for German article.

Arago Redaktion 20. September 2017

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