Journalism and the Voice Intelligence Industry

Artificial Intelligence and Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot


Joseph Turow


Digital Journalism, November, 2020 (online)


Artificial intelligence (AI) systems that analyze human voices have important implications for the creation and marketing of news.

Policy Relevance

News outlets may increasingly support large-scale surveillance.

Main Points

  • Voice intelligence technology includes intelligent speakers, vehicle information systems, customer service via voice call, and interconnected household devices such as security alarms and thermostats.
  • These technologies incorporate AI-based analytics, including advanced machine learning and neural network systems that analyze individual voices; for example, call centers use AI-based systems to analyze customers while they talk to mollify them or make a sale.
  • Marketers are dissatisfied with advertising-based online marketing, because of the prevalence of "click fraud" and use of ad blockers, and see voice-driven personalization as a new way to transform marketing.
  • News outlets supported by advertising could use voice analysis to alter the arrangement of new articles, advertising, and discounts for different people to increase their interest in the journalistic brand; stories could be altered to match the audience member's emotions in real time.
  • The use of voice intelligence to create and shape more profitable news will raise new conflicts of interest and risks of discrimination.
  • As news outlets work to identify and persuade their audiences, surveillance of mass populations will increase, leading to a decline in freedom of personal choice.

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