AI & Local News newsletter, issue 4

Hello, I’m sharing a few quick bits of AI journalism news before the end of the year.

Looking ahead to 2022, we’re excited to offer many new programs and opportunities with our initiative partners Associated Press (fill out their newsroom AI readiness scorecard if you haven’t already), Brown Institute’s Local News Lab, our team at NYC Media Lab, and Partnership on AI.

We’ll launch our first cohort of the AI & Local News Challenge as well as an expanded website with community resources.

Stay safe and happy holidays!

Matt MacVey
Community & Project Lead, AI & Local News
NYC Media Lab

PS If this email was forwarded to you, you can easily sign up here. Take a look at our newsletter archive to learn more.



The Movement to Hold AI Accountable Gains More Steam

New York City just passed a bill that requires all employers to audit their hiring algorithms to assess whether they have bias based on sex, race, or ethnicity. It is the first law of this kind in the country and a first step through a new wave of ethics in AI that could be part of a larger push towards regulation. Here’s what else is happening on this front:


Predictions 2022: Successfully Riding the Next Wave of AI

Forrester’s Senior Research Director Srividya Sridharan has provided her AI predictions for 2022, including the rise of “in-house” embedded AI, responsible AI solutions and creative AI, including products developed independently by AI systems.


Research Brief

NYU Team Receives a Grant of $200,000 to Develop an AI Tool for FOIA Requests

Mona Sloane, member of the faculty at NYU Tandon and Senior Research Scientist at the NYU Center for Responsible AI (R/AI), and Hilke Schellmann, professor of journalism at NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science, have been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation to bring an innovative AI tool to under-resourced newsrooms to significantly scale up their investigative capacity and democratize access to FOIA records. The project will integrate the Gumshoe natural language processing tool with MuckRock’s DocumentCloud platform.



Timnit Gebru Envisions a Future for Smart, Ethical AI

Timnit Gebru is launching a new project: an AI research institute called DAIR. In this podcast she talks about her vision for smart and ethical AI.



JournalismAI Festival

We’re featuring this documentary again, because it highlights the value–and challenges–of a small-town newspaper. The doc delves into the family-run, Pulitzer-Prize-winning newspaper keeping local journalism alive in Storm Lake, Iowa. 


“Storm Lake”

We’re featuring this documentary again because it highlights the value–and challenges–of a small-town newspaper. The doc delves into the family-run, Pulitzer-Prize-winning newspaper keeping local journalism alive in Storm Lake, Iowa. 


Food for Thought 

two man working on a machine and a women working on a different machine

AI Music was Born in 1956: Here is the Story Decades before Auto-Tune and deepfake compositions, Lejaren Hiller, a professor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, ran the first concert composed by a computer: the Illiac Suite: String Quartet No 4. Hiller used the only computer on campus, the room-filling Illiac I, changing the history of the music in one night.

Too Big to be Regulated? The case to keep AI in Check Sure, saying that AI could — in the near future — pose an existential threat to humanity is a little sci-fi for now. But AI does pose a risk to our democracies because of the role it plays in spreading disinformation and extremism on social media. In The Guardian, Devdatt Dubhashi and Shalom Lappin argue that AI-driven social media was “instrumental in mobilising January’s insurrection at the US Capitol, and it has propelled the anti-vax movement since before the pandemic.” The authors propose regulation of Big Tech and AI technologies.



“AI promises to transform all realms of human experience. And the core of its transformations will ultimately occur at the philosophical level, transforming how humans understand reality and our role within it.”

-From “The Age of AI” by Henry A. Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher


Social Knowledge

The AI and Local News partners are Associated PressThe Brown Institute’s Local News LabNYC Media Lab and Partnership on AI.

The initiative is funded by Knight Foundation.

Newsletter produced by Angelo Paura