Tech expert gets real about fake news

By Lauren Lavelle

Best-selling author and award-winning columnist Kevin Maney discussed his thoughts on fake news, artificial intelligence and the advancement of media on Nov. 14 during Rider’s Fake News & Fractured Audiences: Media in the Age of Artificial Intelligence event.

With hundreds of students and faculty members in attendance, Maney began his speech by outlining the main point of his presentation.

“There’s so much going on with this conversation about fake news,” he said. “We have Google, Facebook and Twitter being tried before Congress for hearing. We have this whole idea of artificial intelligence. Will AI take away all of our jobs? There’s also the question of why everyone is so angry right now.”

Maney further illustrated his thoughts by delving into the details of his new book, “Unscaled: How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts Are Creating the Economy of the Future.”

Co-authored by Hemant Tenaja, a successful investor and managing director at venture capital firm General Catalyst, the book is set to be released in March of 2018 after a writing process that took over two years.

“We had all these big conversations about what technology is doing to us in this industry and in the economy,” said Maney. “At one point, after years of these conversations, [Tenaja] said ‘We should write a book about this,’ and I said ‘Yes, we should,’ but I didn’t actually think he was serious and then we wound up doing this over the past two and a half years.”

The book examines the slow breakdown of the economy, corporations and several other large parts of society due to artificial intelligence and new technological advances.

Maney mentioned his thoughts on the evolvement of the radio business by analyzing the popularity of internet radio.

“Tune-In is an internet radio app that has about 60 million users and there’s a story in our book that centers on Tune-In and the reason we use it,” he said. “It tells a lot about the context of what’s happened in the media and what’s going to happen.”

He started with old radio and its costly start-up process which involved hiring DJs, building a tower and sending out a signal that would hopefully reach a large audience.

“The way to make a lot of money in radio was to get as big of an audience as possible,” said Maney. “They tried to get to the point where they had more and more of a mass market while putting out the same product. So, basically, the idea was to do one thing that appealed to the most people. This is what radio was like for years and years.”

Maney claimed change took hold in the early 1990s, when the internet was introduced. From there, the face of radio drastically transformed as radio stations opted for internet broadcasting over the traditional broadcast format.

“A radio station in North Carolina was the first radio station to put its broadcast on the internet,” he said. “It basically pumped what it was already doing right into the internet and now everybody in the world could find it and listen to it. This changed the game and it’s happening with newspapers and video too because all of a sudden, instead of having to build that giant tower and pump a lot of money into reaching as many people as you possibly could, with almost no investment, you could put programming on the internet and reach anyone in the world, not just a particular audience.”

According to Maney’s timeline, apps and social media soon began to take hold, sending out information about what people were listening to and why they were listening to it, bringing the artificial intelligence aspect into play.

Maney ended his speech with advice for communications students, urging them to take hold of the changing media and create their own vision for their future careers.

“If you can find stories that a certain audience wants to read, you’ll be able to create your own individual business around that,” he said.

Senior public relations major Brianna Tiller enjoyed the presentation and felt his thoughts on social media directly related to her life.

“I liked it because it went through the development of social media and touched on how much influence it has over us today,” she said. “As a communication student, it put everything into perspective.”

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