Report on the Symposium of Media Ethics at the St. Pölten UAS
The Symposium of Media Ethics 2019 at the St. Pölten UAS addressed digital changes in new media.
In the course of the symposium, the far-reaching aspects of technology were discussed according to the motto “possibilities and limitations of technologically oriented business models in the TIME industry”, referring to businesses from telecommunications, IT, media and entertainment – ranging from moderation and control of online comments to accessing large amounts of data.
New Technology, New Responsibility
The symposium critically examined societal, ethical and economic implications of technologizing media-economical creation of value for media management, journalism and media politics: which responsibilities do businesses have for these new business models based on data and software? Is it possible for individuals to independently have a look behind the scenes of these systems? Where are algorithms profitable and safe to use and where are ethical limitations necessary? Does the future consist of machine ethics and robot journalism?
To ensure a wide range of perspectives, media ethics specialists, media economists and representatives of media houses, platforms and technology research held lectures and led discussions.
“The symposium pointed out current technological and economic developments as well as ethical questions from the viewpoint of practice and science”, says Michael Litschka, organiser of the symposium and head of the study programme Digital Media Management at the St. Pölten UAS.
Algorithms, Economy, Society
Keynote speaker was business computer scientist Stefan Strauß from the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW). Under the topic “Everything under control? How algorithms change economy and society”, Stefan Strauß demonstrated how algorithms have become ever-present control elements of our society at a global level.
Algorithms control economic processes and infrastructures, analyse large amounts of data, influence media content and consumer behaviour, know our social contacts, interests and preferences and sometimes seem to know more about us than we do ourselves. Despite this enormous power, however, according to Strauß it remains partially unclear how this power emerged, what meaning algorithms actually have and which consequences their use has.
Florian Saurwein from the Institute for Comparative Media and Communication Studies (CMC) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) pointed out problems and solutions concerning the moderation of content on Internet and social media platforms. On the one hand, algorithms are used as a tool in the fight against the unlawful and unwanted content such as hatred and disinformation.
On the other hand, the use of algorithms also entails distortion, manipulation and unwanted blocking of harmless content. Therefore, according to Saurwein, algorithms can be the cause of problems and also possible solutions. Nikolaus Pöchhacker from the Digital/Media/Lab of the Vienna University of Technology (TU) presented how algorithms can be designed in a responsible manner.
Recognition of Moods in Texts and Algorithm Use in Agencies
Johanna Grüblbauer and Andreas Gebesmair from the Institute of Media Economics of the St. Pölten UAS showed how opinions, feelings and emotions in texts and online comments can be automatically recognised. They use this method of sentiment analysis to find out how the music industry can automatically gain useful data for marketing research from analysing a large amount of social media comments regarding songs and artists.
Verena Kawarik, head of the department Innovation Management of the Austrian Press Agency (APA), presented practical examples of the use of algorithm-controlled production in news agencies which demonstrated the associated possibilities and risks of automation.
The Symposium of Media Ethics is a cooperation of the department Media & Economy at the St. Pölten UAS and the Interdisciplinary Media Ethics Centre (IMEC).
Symposium Media Ethics 2019
07/03/2019, St. Pölten UAS