Artificial intelligence has "vast potential" to improve the future of communication research in the decades ahead and will "enhance our understanding of the world through the generation of insights," Tsinghua University Professor Chen Changfeng told a joint conference of two leading Asian communication research organizations on Nov. 4.
"The opportunities that lie before us are abundant," Chen, a distinguished professor at the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication, told members of the Asia-Pacific Communication Alliance and the Asian Network for Public Opinion Research. "Yet, with these opportunities come critical questions and challenges regarding ethics, bias, and the profound impact on society."
More than 20 academics from the Asia Pacific region, Europe and the United States took part in lively discussions of the potential risks and rewards posed by the transformative technology.
"Its existence is welcomed with joy and apprehension," said Jantima Kheokao, a professor at St. Paul University Manila and president of the Asian Network for Public Opinion Research. "AI technology was conceived more than 70 years ago, but just recently its advance is at exponential speed."
The speed of societal transformation wrought by AI – and the need for high-quality academic research on its impact and potential – were themes of many of the 30 presentations during the conference. Han Jingyan, speaking on behalf of Tsinghua president Xiqin Wang, said the world is "entering a phase of rapid development" in artificial intelligence capabilities.
Speakers offered case studies of the impact of AI. Lee Miller, a Global Business Journalism professor and Bloomberg News editor-at-large, used AI analysis to document how sentiments demonstrated by social media posts affected real-time investment decisions, Shuhua Zhou, chair professor at the City University of Hong Kong, demonstrated the effects of AI television anchors on public perceptions of news stories and the credibility of news organizations. And Global Business Journalism co-director Rick Dunham explained the growing risks of disinformation in the media ecosystem as both democracies and dictatorships struggle with government regulation of AI-generated information.
Chen, the president of the Asia-Pacific Communication Alliance, called the Tsinghua conference the start of an ongoing dialogue throughout the Asia Pacific region on the revolutionary technology.
"It is a space where we can learn from one another, exchange experiences, and together shape the future of communication in the age of AI," she said.