For Journalism, AI Is Not Bad News

Jason Chumtong gave his views during an introduction to AI and the role of AI in journalism talk at the Department of Media and Communication last week. Photo: KAS

PHNOM PENH – Will artificial intelligence (AI) replace human work in the future? No, but it will help people, says Jason Chumtong, country director of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Cambodia (KAS Cambodia).

His answer, also based on American philosopher John Sealer’s thought experiment called “The Chinese Room Argument,” argued that computational power, or any other digital information processing that can simulate syntax, can only simulate human cognitive capacity but not thought itself.

Jason has a master’s degree in science from the University of Edinburgh where his final thesis was on science and technology in society and focused on the use of AI in autonomous driving. He has also served as a policy advisor for artificial intelligence.

He gave his views during an introduction to AI and the role of AI in journalism talk at the Department of Media and Communication last week.

He said ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) can be a good assistant for journalists in tasks such as brainstorming ideas, researching, drafting and editing.

He spoke of enhancing journalism with ChatGPT. It helps journalists improve their writing style if they don’t write in their native language.

Journalists can adapt text to make it their original work. They should avoid copying text from ChatGPT and submitting it as their own.

Jason was asked if AI-assisted journalism can be counted as stealing someone’s work. He said journalists must use their sources and cannot use information from ChatGPT without fact-checking.

Journalists needed to gather ideas before AI was invented. They still need to ask themselves where they get ideas from and how to develop them.

“The problem of originality is not entirely related to AI. It relates to your core work as the journalist,” he said.

“The challenge of laziness does not rely on using ChatGPT, I think it relies on every tool that helps to correct, to improve anything of your work.

“So, I think when you use something that improves your work, you need to reflect on how it improves your work, always double-check what kinds of mistakes you make, and then try to understand and learn.

“So, next time you don’t make the same mistake again.”

On whether AI will lead to fewer journalists being hired, Jason said, “I am not convinced that digital technology like Artificial intelligence can replace humans.

“It may replace and it does replace specific tasks but I don’t think it will replace you as a person entirely.

“It will change the way journalists work. The way journalists work was already changed by the mass production of computers but journalism always adjusts to technology. So, it will do this again,” he said.

Jason advised students who study media and communication that they should engage with technology and never be lazy. Especially, students should try to understand how to use it for specific purposes to better work, not use it to stay at the same level.

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