by Andrew Cochran

Part of this site began on my living room floor in the 1960s. I’d sit cross-legged and transfixed by a black-and-white image on a cathode-ray tube in a large box. Humans were leaving the Earth for space, and I could watch it on television, live. Thirty years later, I would use a modem to dial a secret number, hear odd sounds, and soon after I could leave, not for space, but to explore the whole world, without budging from my chair.

Then the connections got faster, the pictures were more plentiful (including video), and when the wires disappeared, the possibilities changed again. To the mid-20-teens, and as a news department strategist, I started reading about algorithms that could understand speech as well as humans, and others that could accurately identify faces. It seemed another shift was underway.

The impact on journalism of live TV, the internet, and mobile never had a specific beginning. Each slowly became a part of our lives, one development at a time, until ‘all of a sudden’ things were radically different. The last time, the extent of the change became known as ‘the crisis’, as if precipitated by an event. Yet the makings had been in the works for years. Today, the same tell-tale signs are here with AI.

No doubt, years from now, someone will look back at how AI influenced journalism. Perhaps they’ll point to a specific monent or technology when “everything changed,” but my bet is they won’t. Instead, they’ll see how the AI shift was evolutionary rather than revolutionary — as it had been with TV, the internet, and mobile, except with greater consequences.