7 Ways AI Media Coverage is Failing Us

Nirit Weiss-Blatt
3 min readMay 10, 2023

What’s wrong with current AI media coverage? These 7 flaws:

AI Hype & Criti-Hype

AI Hype: Overconfident techies bragging about their AI systems (AI Boosterism).

AI Criti-Hype: Overconfident doomsayers accusing those AI systems of atrocities (AI Doomerism).

Both overpromise the technology’s capabilities and spread unrealistic expectations.

Inducing Simplistic, Binary Thinking

It is either simplistically optimistic or simplistically pessimistic.

When companies’ founders are referred to as “charismatic leaders,” AI ethics experts as “critics,” and doomsayers (without expertise in AI) as “AI experts” — it distorts how the public perceives, understands, and participates in these discussions.

Pack Journalism

Copycat behavior: News outlets report the same story from the same perspective.

It leads to media storms.

When AI Doomers become media heroes, their fearmongering overshadows the real consequences of AI.

It’s not a productive conversation to have, yet, the press runs with it.

Anthropomorphizing AI

Attributing human characteristics to AI misleads people.

It begins with words like “intelligence” and “learning” and moves to “consciousness” and “sentience,” as if the machine has experiences, emotions, opinions, or motivations. This isn’t a human being.

Narrow Focus on the Edges of the Debate

The selection of topics for attention and the framing of these topics are powerful Agenda-Setting roles.

This is why it’s unfortunate most attention is paid to the fringes of the debate, not the majority in the middle.

The loudest shouters provoke misguided outrage.

Interchanging Question Marks with Exclamation Points

Sensational, deterministic headlines prevail over nuanced discussions. “AGI will destroy us”/“save us” make for good headlines, not good journalism.

Whenever people make predictions with absolute certainty in a state of uncertainty, follow the money, and see why that’s the case.

Conversing Sci-Fi Scenarios as Credible Predictions

“AI will get out of control and kill everyone.” This scenario doesn’t need any proof or factual explanation. We saw it in Hollywood movies! So, that must be true (right?).

The focus should NOT be on imaginary threats, but on the actual challenges and the guardrails they require.

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Nirit Weiss-Blatt

Dr. (Ph.D.). Book Author: The Techlash and Tech Crisis Communication. Contributor: Techdirt. Former visiting research fellow, USC. Expertise: Tech Journalism.