About ICS

The Institute of Communication Studies is a leading research organization in the field of journalism and media studies, public relations and corporate communications. Our mission is to contribute towards strengthening of Macedonian democracy by working with media, civil society and public institutions, educating a critical public that will ask for greater transparency and accountability through engagement in the policy creation process.


How to prepare for the future and artificial intelligence

Between the two extreme opposing views of artificial intelligence, the utopian one – that it will give people enormous power, and the destructive one – that technological progress will replace people in jobs, the most acceptable position is that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be ignored, but the use and application of its tools must be careful, supervised, and transparent.

This was the conclusion agreed by all participants at the international symposium “Media Literacy in the Age of AI: Redefining the Possible”. The event was an excellent opportunity to hear, for the first time, unique thoughts of experts from the country and abroad in one place, who analyzed the good and bad side of artificial intelligence in education and in the media.

The world will fly past us if we insist only on the traditional approach in education

The openness or resistance to technological progress in Macedonia, especially in education, reflects the developments in the rest of the European world, which is dominated by two different approaches – while some teachers forbid the use of AI and consider it plagiarism, others encourage it. There are no such contradictions among young people – they think that AI tools are interesting and helpful, and they use them creatively for homework, in school, but also for fun. They use ChatGPT for languages, math, and history because it shortens their search time, and gives them guidance when writing or solving problems.

The professors who attended the symposium find it sad that the breakthrough and adaptation of changes at the institutional level is taking place very slowly and does not follow the readiness of young people for changes.

Professor Kristine Van Dam from Ghent University in Belgium, personally supports the changes and embraces AI tools that can be used by both teachers and students. However, she emphasizes that it is important that young people do not hide when using ChatGPT and use it more as a stimulus for their creation, and not for literal copying word for word.

The fourth educational revolution has begun, stated Professor Kiril Barbareev from “Goce Delchev” University in Shtip, and any insistence not to change the work methods in the educational process (how a lesson is organized, how it is taught) increases the risk that the world will rush ahead of us and leave us behind. In his opinion, the traditional should not be preferred over the digital and vice versa, but rather they should be combined to produce the best learning outcomes for young people.

The good, the bad and the ugly face of the artificial intelligence in the media outlets

It creates ten headlines in just a few seconds, an entire article in half a minute, and with one click – hundreds of texts on the same topic. With such performance, ChatGPT is, expectedly, an attractive tool in the media market, but simply “producing” content into the world of information does not guarantee reliability.

Or as Thomas Guritin, expert on conversational AI and chatbots, puts it: “If you seek truth, use it carefully.” This sentence is the essence of all the hype that is still created at the mention of the term AI – learn how it works, how to use it and whether and to what extent it can be trusted.

ChatGPT texts are created automatically with the help of statistical parrots that guess what the next word will be, thus creating a sentence and then a whole text. Although it sounds negative, automatic text creation saves time and resources.

“ChatGPT could be used for trivial matters and under supervision, and journalists would have more time for research and critical thinking” says Yanis Kompatsiaris, Director of CERTH-ITI and Coordinator of “AI4Media”.

But he also expresses concern about the increasing number of contents that is generated and that look like the truth but is actually disinformation. It is necessary to check the facts and educate the citizens on how to identify them, and the good news is that they are working on new algorithms that will alert at the slightest sign in case of disinformation, propagandistic and pseudo-data sets.

In addition to disinformation, misrepresentation of chatbots as real experts is also causing great harm. These bots work based on algorithm that is created to respond to every query of the user, not to contradict it. This can also lead to tragic situations, for which Gurtitin gave an example.

The two experts agree that education and critical thinking are the best protection against all these threats to democracy and security of the citizens.

To reduce harmful tendencies in the media outlets, especially on the social media, the company Textgain founded a European Observatory, with the support of the European Commission, that monitors hate speech in 20 media outlets.

The coordinator of the European Observatory, Lydia El Khoury, says that with the help of their algorithm, malicious comments on Twitter and Instagram about a certain person are detected and based on those narratives, the level of toxicity and violence on social networks media is identified. In cooperation with the Institute for Communication Studies, the tone of communication on social media in Macedonia will be monitored. Khoury emphasizes that it is very important for everyone to understand that hate speech on social media is a serious problem.

How to prepare for the future

The new technological wave will affect everyone, both young and adults, and no one will be excluded from these changes, says Professor Anis Sefidanis from the Faculty of Applied IT, Machine Intelligence and Robotics in Ohrid. In his opinion, AI is a natural evolution of human intelligence, but unlike the limited capacities of man, it offers a range of possibilities that contribute to the facilitation of everyday life. For example, it can help you move more easily and quickly in traffic and reduce the number of traffic accidents.

But putting the glorification of the effects of the AI aside, there are also real fears that with the rapid development of technology, about 14 percent of workers globally will be replaced in their jobs, and the first to be hit will be salespersons, people employed in analytics or in the human resources department. Martina Naumovska, partner at Data Masters, suggests that these forecasts may not be 100% accurate, but every company and young person should adapt to the new times. The message to students is to become literate in reading and using data that is at the core of artificial intelligence, and to businesses to invest in new technologies, train employees and adapt to change.

Due to the euphoria about the influx of new technology, the question of ethics may sound irrelevant or less important, but users should insist on having their privacy respected. Andrej Dameski, Doctor of Science in AI, says that greater democratic control is needed by introducing rules for the use of AI, but he also advocates for introduction of decentralization, which should distinguish that the purchase of certain tools does not imply the user’s automatic consent to violation of his privacy. “By buying a cleaning robot, we are not agreeing to have our entire private space exposed to some company, which is the case now” says Dameski.

New AI tools are still being modified, refined, developed and they have not yet passed the test of time. However, this must not limit their use, but only make us more cautious, or as the director of USAID’s office of general development, Dawn Carmin, said in her speech, we should not be afraid, but only cautiously apply the new technologies.

“We are facing a historic global transition and the adoption of new technologies that are transforming societies. We at USAID are ready to embrace change by maximizing the advantages while mitigating the risks. We should not be afraid, just carefully apply new technologies”, she said.