International media, communication, and new technologies experts have discussed the positive and negative effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the Arab media sector and the media in general, as well as on the global economy, during the Third Annual Congress for Arab Media Professionals, organized by the Arab States Broadcasting Union in Tunis.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the President of the Arab States Broadcasting Union and the CEO of Saudi Broadcast Authority (SBA), Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, pointed to an increasing interest of media and communication officials in the effects of AI on media content and on the use of modern means of communication to address billions of people around the world.
Asked about the importance of the annual congress and the message it conveys about AI and its effects on the media, Al-Harithi said: “The interest of the Arab States Broadcasting Union in this phenomenon was imposed by global media, technological and communications developments... Artificial intelligence will not only change the media sector, but it will also impact many sectors in the Arab region and in the entire world.”
He revealed that a report issued by the World Bank predicts that 40 percent of jobs worldwide may disappear due to AI.
“There are also reports that estimate that about 300 million jobs will vanish soon due to applications of AI in many sectors, including media, communications, technologies, and services,” he added.
Regarding the consequences of AI on media and communication in particular, Al-Harthi emphasized that this sector was the most affected by rapid technological changes, especially by AI, because it depends more than others on the complete overlap between content creation, modern technologies, and the promotion of media products within many new and complex mechanisms and methods.
“We are in an era in which much of the media has begun to give in to AI mechanisms... We noticed this during our tours around the world, including to the international news agency, The Associated Press (AP), which produces about a third of its media and communication materials through advanced digital software, in which journalists and humans in general do not interfere... especially for some traditional media stories, such as the results of sports matches,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Al-Harthi continued: “This development undoubtedly poses many challenges to those responsible for media, communication, and influencing public opinion through very modern digital technological means, including the challenge of fake or fabricated news.”
He noted that the Arab States Broadcasting Union has opened important cases related to the misuse of AI, such as “violating privacy and personal data,” publishing “fake news,” and stealing and broadcasting news without respecting intellectual property rights and broadcasting rights.
Commenting on studies that prove successful AI practices in various media and communication sectors, Al-Harthi said: “We also have successful experiences, and AI as a whole is not a curse. Rather, it can also be a blessing for media professionals, students, researchers, and the public.”
However, he stressed that ensuring the accuracy of information requires, in many cases, serious human scrutiny and intervention by media professionals, experts, and researchers to verify the authenticity of the news and information, as well as conducting investigations into contradictory news and sources, and their cross-references.
“At the same time, there are those who consider the acceleration of the use of artificial intelligence to be a frightening development. Therefore, the concerned authorities in the United States held meetings with all those involved with the aim of rationalizing the benefit of AI mechanisms in accordance with directives that are consistent with the country’s constants and its highest national interests.”