Researchers from McGill University recently created a computer program that generates news regarding COVID-19 making use of headlines from CBC articles as prompts. This stimulated news was then compared to the actual reports. They discovered that CBC was more focused on geo-politics and personalities, rather than the medical emergency.‘Reporting on real-world events requires complex choices, including decisions about which events and players take center stage. By comparing what was reported with what could have been reported, out study provides perspective on the editorial choices made by news agencies,’ says Andrew Piper, Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at McGill University. According to the researchers, an evaluation of these alternatives is vital, especially considering the interdependent relationship between government policy, public opinion, and media framing.‘The AI saw COVID-19 primarily as a health emergency and interpreted the events in more bio-medical terms, whereas the CBC coverage tended to focus on person rather than disease-centered reporting. The CBC coverage was also more positive than expected given that it was a major health crisis— producing a sort of rally around the flag effect. This positivity works to downplay public fear,’ said Professor Piper.The researchers say that while most studies aim to understand AI biases, it also provides an opportunity to use it as a tool to study the biases of human expression. ‘The goal is to help us see things we might otherwise miss,’ said Professor Piper.‘We’re not suggesting that the AI itself is unbiased. But rather than eliminating bias, as many researchers try to do, we want to understand how and why the bias comes to be,’ said Sil Hamilton, a research assistant under Professor Piper.For the researchers, this work could reveal different areas of study where AI can look at past human behavior, and also anticipate their future actions. For example, AI could help predict judicial or political outcomes.The researchers, led by Hamilton, are currently working on a project using AI to model decision-making by the American Supreme Court. ‘Given past judicial behavior, how might justices respond to future pivotal cases or older cases that are being re-litigated? We hope new developments in AI can help,’ he said.
By Marvellous Iwendi.