The implications of automation and artificial intelligence for visual journalism
In recent years, prose journalists have been joined in newsrooms by software systems designed to automate aspects of their work. The attraction of these systems for news organisations is clear. The current news environment is one where speed is a priority, budgets are tight, and where reader personalisation is of increasing importance. These technologies appear able to meet many of these challenges.
By contrast, visual journalism has not experienced automation to anything like the same degree. The complexity and ambiguity of visual material, its comparative weight in storage terms, and the resultant computing demands, have all conspired to make the development of what I term ‘visually orientated algorithms’ slow and uneven. My research examines what the consequences might be as this situation begins to change, and how problems that have affected the field over recent decades, and wider societal ideas about the role of visual journalists will influence the form and use of these technologies.
Lewis studied history at the University of Warwick, worked for the World Health Organisation, and then studied documentary photography at the University of the Arts London. Since 2012 he has developed an artistic practice which spans a range of media practices and research methodologies to develop long term, investigative projects focused on visualising different forms of power.
Past projects have focused on issues ranging from the destructive impact of property speculation and redevelopment on his home city of London, to the systemic inequalities of the art world, the hitherto unknown geographies of intelligence communications networks and the cultures surrounding and supporting offshore finance. He is currently in the final stages of two projects; Wv.B which questions narratives of space exploration as a peaceful scientific project, and Ways of Seeing Algorithmically, which uses augmented reality to explore the hidden biases of computer vision systems.
His projects have received numerous accolades and commendations, and his books and prints are held in private and institutional collections including the Tate group, The Museum of London, and The Victoria & Albert Museum. He has written extensively on photography and photojournalism for a wide range of publications, and since 2011 has published the Disphotic blog.
Supervisors: Dr Dylan Mulvin & Professor Lilie Chouliaraki