Necessity of human-centered norms in the Al era
There is no doubt that Al has gradually become a primary player in the media and cultural sectors, and its role in cultural production will be furthermore increasing in the near future, as can be seen in Chapter 4 as well. With big data and algorithms, Al will continue to transform media and culture so that audiences will be experiencing new forms of culture—from cultural content to business models—that are unprecedented. The degree of involvement of Al in media and culture cannot be predictable due to its complexity and speed; however, in a nutshell, it is certain that Al will become a major component in the media and cultural industries. Again, this does not mean that Al replaces human creators and workers, as media and culture have been mostly human activities unlike other industries, including auto, chemistry, and smart city projects. Al has to collaborate with humans instead of replacing them in most cases, and therefore, government Al policy in many countries must emphasize the close and cooperative relationship between Al and popular culture. Popular culture lends itself to “surprising co-operation with Al-based systems to allow for the protection and promotion of the diverse cultural heritage” in many parts of the globe. “The majority of current Al applications are in predictable arenas, dominated by consumer electronics. Al could offer great help in the domain of preserving and advancing the issues of massively heterogeneous and rich human heritage” (Merkie, 2018, 2-3).
Popular culture is more complicated than expected, because it is directly related to people’s feelings. In other words, media and popular culture are different from other industries mainly because the media and cultural sectors are two major areas in which creativity and people’s feelings play a key role in the entire process of cultural production. As the Harvard Business Review (Kosslyn, 2019) points out, two non-routine kinds of work seem to be difficult to automate—emotion and context. On the one hand, emotion plays a significant role in human communication. It is involved in virtually all forms of nonverbal communication and in empathy. Furthermore, popular culture also plays a key role in
helping us decide what needs to be attended to right now as opposed to later in the evening. Emotion is not only complex and nuanced, it also interacts with many of our decision processes. The functioning of emotion has proven challenging to understand scientifically (although there has been progress), and is difficult to build into an automated system.
On the other hand, human beings are able to take context into account when making decisions or having interactions with others. Context is interesting because it is open ended. Whenever a new story appears, it shifts the context in which people operate. Changes in context is able to introduce new elements and reconfigure the organization of elements in fundamental ways. This is a problem for ML, which operates on data sets that were created previously, in a different context. Thus, taking context into account is a challenge for automation. People’s ability to manage and utilize emotion and to consider the effects of context are key components of critical thinking, creative problem solving, adaptive learning, and decent judgment. However, it has proven very difficult for ML to compete with such human knowledge and skills (Kosslyn, 2019).
Unlike other industries, media and culture are fundamentally rooted in the lived human condition, which cannot easily be replaced by AL The reality is that digital transformation, driven by several major digital technologies, including the internet and smartphones, has begun, but we are still in the very early stages of Al-powered digital transformation. It is coming, but it will not overtake humans and organizations. In other words, Al is not about machines ruling over humans, but machines and humans working together. Al will supply humans with insight and perspective but will not supply judgment and creativity. They are still what people do. When people combine human creativity and passion together with technology, this creates an excitement that can ultimately solve humanity’s challenges and change the world. To balance out ML means that people themselves have to become learning machines. People cannot let themselves become disconnected; people need to find their own way to stay intellectually active. There needs to be an active role in keeping people’s minds curious and the need for self-improvement (Deyo, 2017). Al algorithms “do not have the power of the human mind in distinguishing right from wrong,” which means that “humans can judge the morality of our actions, even when we decide to act against ethical norms. But for algorithms, data is the ultimate determining factor” (Dickson, 2018).
What we have to speculate about is, therefore, the creative and constructive relationship building between humans and AL Again, media and culture are distinctive because they reflect people’s emotions, feelings, and creativity. Al cannot simply overtake humans to become a replacer. Instead, Al, as one of the major actors, actively mediates the entire process of cultural production between humans and technology and between cultural creators and consumers. Replacing humans and mediating the process are not the same thing. As Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research, states (2017), media and cultural industries corporations that seek to implement Al need to be aware of the fundamental flaw in Al implementation. According to Ross (2017), corporations that view Al “purely as a cost-cutting opportunity are likely to insert them in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways.” This is because many corporations mistakenly view Al as a replacement for human workers, which cannot be done, nor is it possible in the realms of media and culture.
Humans have been the major actors in cultural production, from production to distribution to consumption, over the past several decades although there are several different digital technologies, including the internet and smartphones. Many engineers and scientists focus on the question of whether Al can ever achieve “human-like” behavior in computational systems while witnessing the rapid advance of AL In the realms of media and culture, the question is whether Al will replace humans in the long run. However, both questions are not adequate in understanding the role of Al in media and popular culture.
Unlike other major industries, media and culture cannot thrive without humans and their creativity. Culture does not mean anything that is unilateral, but instead consists of interactions between humans, between humans and technology, and therefore, between humans and culture. Without human components, mostly people’s creativity, emotions, feelings, and opinions, it is not possible to achieve the true meaning of popular culture. Instead of simply taking the increasing role of Al in media and culture for granted, it is critical to develop and understand the creation of human-centered Al ecosystems. As Gunkel (2020,276) argues, “Robots and Al that are designed to follow rules and operate within the boundaries of some kind of programmed restraint might turn out to be something other than what is typically recognized as a responsible agent.” Consequently,
this lack of emotion would render them non-moral agents—i.e., agents that follow rules without being by moral concerns—and they would even lack the capacity to discern what is of value. They would be morally blind. If these robots [and Al] were given full independence—absence of external control by humans, which is another condition for full moral agency—they would pose danger to humans and other entities.
(Coeckelbergh, 2010, 236)
What is significant here is that humans must work with Al to include morality and humanistic emotions and feelings so that humans and Al can work together to reflect both technological functionality and humanistic values in popular culture. As Stiglitz (2019) argues, “Artificial intelligence and robotization are being hailed as the engines of future growth. But under the prevailing policy and regulatory framework, many people will lose their jobs, with little help from government to find new ones.” Al and digital platforms have continued to play a role as mediators, fulfilling their mission in contemporary capitalism; however, only humans are able to mediate Al and digital platforms in the realms of media and popular culture with the help of public policy. The major consideration of Al policy in the realms of popular culture around the globe has been to advance the norms that governments and digital platforms must advance this particular characteristic of popular culture.