Co-Opting AI: Journalism

09/29 Tuesday | 5pm

RSVP is required. Please RSVP here. This event will also be live-streamed via Youtube and Twitter.

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU Tandon’s Department for Technology, Culture and Society and the 370 Jay Project invite you to a discussion on finance in the series on “Co-Opting AI.” Investigative journalism has played a pivotal role in uncovering the ways in which big tech extracts value from communities and poses a threat to democracy. Tech reporting has become a central tool for conducting critical research on technology, and for holding AI systems and their creators accountable. In a world in which tech controls power and that is facing multiple and interlinked global crises – a pandemic, the climate emergency, the rise of autocratic states, raging inequality and power held in the hands of a few – investigative journalism is more important than ever. But journalism itself has become an increasingly technological practice, one that is in many ways entangled with algorithmic systems and market dynamics.

This event will feature tech journalism veteran and NYT columnist Kara Swisher, Emmy Award-winning journalist Hilke Schellmann, WIRED Magazine writer Sidney Fussell, and sociologist Angèle Christin. The distinguished panel will consider questions such as: What does it mean to do investigative journalism on big tech? What kinds of stories are we telling about AI, and how do these relate to bigger socio-economic and political issues like inequality, power, and the crisis of democracy? What are the ways in which algorithmic systems participate in journalism and change its dynamics?

The event will live-streamed via YouTube and Twitter, audience members can pose questions for the Q&A via the comment function.

Kara Swisher (@KaraSwisher) is the co-host of Pivot from New York Magazine and the host of the New York Times podcast Sway. She’s also editor-at-large at New York Magazine, co-founder of Recode from Vox Media, a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a regular contributor to NBC, CNBC and MSNBC. She previously hosted the podcasts Recode Decode and Too Embarrassed to Ask at Vox. Swisher is renowned for elevating the public’s understanding of the technology industry’s trends, products, and players through her journalistic excellence. Swisher co-founded Recode and, before that, co-produced and co-hosted The Wall Street Journal’s “D: All Things Digital” conference series (now called the Code conference) with Walt Mossberg starting in 2003. It was, and still is, the country’s premier conference on tech and media, with interviewees such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, the Google leadership, Tim Cook, Jack Dorsey and many other leading players. She and Mossberg were also the co-executive editors of a tech and media Web site, AllThingsD.com, founded in 2007. Swisher worked in The Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco bureau. For many years, she wrote the column “BoomTown,” which appeared on the front page of the Marketplace section and online at WSJ.com. Previously, Swisher covered breaking news about the Web’s major players and Internet policy issues and also wrote feature articles on technology for the paper. Earlier in her career, Swisher worked as a reporter at the Washington Post and as an editor at the City Paper of Washington, D.C. She received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her graduate degree at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Swisher is also the author of “aol.com: How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads and Made Millions in the War for the Web,” published by Times Business Books in July 1998. The sequel, “There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for a Digital Future,” was published in the fall of 2003 by Crown Business Books.

Hilke Schellmann is an assistant professor of journalism at NYU and an Emmy-award winning investigative reporter. Her work has been published in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, where she recently led a video team of seven investigating the new world of algorithms. Schellmann is currently reporting on how artificial intelligence is changing the world of work. Schellmann has also reported for NPR’s Planet Money podcast on fake reviews and her PBS Frontline documentary Outlawed in Pakistan premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was dubbed “among the standouts” at the Festival by The Los Angeles Times, called “extraordinary” by Variety, was recognized with an Emmy, and won the Overseas Press Club and Cinema for Peace Award. Her student loan investigation for VICE on HBO was a finalist for a Peabody Award. Schellmann’s other work has appeared in TIME, Quartz, PBS, CBC, ARD and ZDF (German Television), WNYC, National Geographic, Glamour and The Atlantic. Prior to joining NYU, Schellmann was the Director of Video Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is a Fulbright Scholar and holds an MS from Columbia University and an MA from Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. While in graduate school, Schellmann co-founded the nonprofit Center for Documentary Art UnionDocs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and now serves on its advisory committee.

Sydney Fussell is a senior staff writer at WIRED covering policing, surveillance, adtech, and big data. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he also covered technology.

Angèle Christin is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and affiliated faculty in the Sociology Department at Stanford University. Drawing on ethnographic methods, she studies how algorithms and analytics transform professional values, expertise, and work practices. Her book, Metrics at Work: Journalism and the Contested Meaning of Algorithms  (Princeton University Press, 2020) focuses on the case of web journalism, analyzing the growing importance of audience analytics in web newsrooms. She is currently a Visiting Researcher with the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England.

Mona Sloane is a sociologist working on inequality in the context of AI design and policy.  She frequently publishes and speaks about AI, ethics, equitability and policy in a global context. Mona is a Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK), a Fellow with NYU’s Alliance for Public Interest Technology and a Future Imagination Collaboratory (FIC) Fellow at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She also works with The GovLab in New York and teaches at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering. At IPK, Mona founded and convenes the ‘Co-Opting AI’ series. She also curates the Technology Section for Public Books. Mona holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has completed fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter: @mona_sloane.

The Co-Opting AI event series is convened by Mona Sloane. They are hosted at IPK and co-sponsored by the 370 Jay Project and the NYU Tandon Department of Technology, Culture, and Society.

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