2021 Automated Media Research

Automated Media for dummies, experts, entrepreneurs, policy nerds, and artists.

This series of investigations will explore, examine, and where possible experience how our media perceived industry and cultures are either benefiting from or are threatened by automation. Rather than fear or malign, we seek to understand and where possible employ automated tools and systems for the benefit of humanity.

It is obvious that unregulated automated media are a harm on horizon, and the subject area is fertile for anticipatory regulators to quickly consider an agile policy response that promotes innovation and protects consumers.

We need to huddle on the implications of automated media and recognize the regulatory entrepreneurship that is enabling existing firms in the space to scale. Without meaningful dialogue, these interventions risk being normalized as a key part of our media environment.  

This exploratory research series will kickstart an open discussion that considers what the technology is and how it works while identifying who the businesses and startups are in the space that are building these tools, so we can begin to imagine what kind of guardrails we need in our policy environments to educate and protect citizens from automated persuasion and similar emerging concepts.

Whether you are a programmer or a policy professional, a media executive or recovering journalist, academic, educator, investor, entrepreneur, citizen, or aspiring botnet operator, this event is for you, and the opportunity to shape the future of the automated media industry is now.

Attention Markets, Algorithms, and Social Media

As a society we’ve taken for granted the rise of automated media, whether search engine (as automated librarian) or social media (as automated media publisher and distributor). Both are enabled by algorithmic based indexing and sorting, and together they’ve completely transformed our media industries and environments. Now anyone can publish almost anything to a potentially global audience.

Yet what happens when anyone can become a creator and audiences are increasingly fragmented? Attention becomes scarce and increasingly valuable. While advertising networks provide attention markets for advertisers, what about creators? Where do they go to purchase attention, and what does that even mean?

If algorithms stand between us and our friends, between creators and their fans, then how do they commodify and enable attention markets?

Attention markets are evolving and spreading to serve the needs of small and aspiring creators. How do they work, how do they earn money, what is their potential, and how will they impact the future of the media industry?

Automated Words: GPT-3 and NLP

Natural language processing is becoming increasingly effective, creative, and accessible. If words can be automated or at least accelerated what does that mean for journalism and media production? What are some of the emerging tools and how are they being used?

What are the harms or threats associated with automated text? More effective spam and scams?

Deep Fakes and Video

A range of automated video production tools are emerging that make it possible to create realistic if not entertaining computer generated content, with so-called “deep fakes” being the most compelling example. What are these tools, how are they being used, and what do they mean for the future of news, democracy, and the role of authenticating content? Is there an automated tool created to detect deep fakes? How do they work? Are they sufficient?

Botnets and Coordinated Media Activity

Automating activity or using automated tools to coordinate manual activity enables media engagement and platform response that is increasingly powerful and highly visible. Whether bots or humans these tactics and methods are rapidly proliferating, in spite of attempts to limit or restrict their influence. What are these methods, how are they being executed, and what should the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour be, beyond basic cybersecurity concerns?

Automated Worlds and Environments

Why create a bot when you can create a network of bots. Yet why create a network of bots when you can create an entire world or environment for competing bot societies? Video games have been doing this for many years, but what happens when that logic influences and invades larger media ecosystems?

Automated and Additive Manufacturing

3D printing, and CNC machines are also examples of automated media, even if the media they make is tangible. Just because automated digital media is easier to produced doesn't mean that the revolution in automated media spills over from the digital world back into the physical.

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