Maximizing the gains of Internet of Things (IOT) revolution to drive freedom of expressions responsibly

By Olufemi Orunsola

May 3rd, is World Press Freedom Day. This year marks the 30th year of this UN International Day. This year’s theme as defined by UNESCO is “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”.

Of a truth, the future the world envisaged yesterday is already here with us in today’s age of unprecedented Internet of Things (IoT) revolution where interconnectivity of tech devices to the global super information highway – the internet holds sway.

In an age where Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Robotics, Advanced Biometrics (AB), Drone Technology and Block Chain Technology combine to democratize the entire journalistic process of gathering information and the circulation of information to  heterogeneous audiences scattered across the globe in ways never previously considered possible by mankind.

More than ever before, these highlighted components of the Internet of Things (IOT) revolution  are fasting shaping and reshaping the way mankind gathers, holds, processes and  shares information in excercise of the fundamental  right to freedom of expression as  well as other inalienable rights of men as clearly articulated in the international treaties to which Nigeria and many other countries are signatories.

Expectedly, adherents of journalistic professionalism and objectivity have expressed worries over the realization that the new breed of netizens are often guilty of deploying IoT to perpetuate and propagate a deluge of dangerous misinformation, disinformation and at other times, outright falsehoods via texts, pictures, 3D graphics,  IoT-manipulated audios/videos and other formats without enough consideration of the ethical and moral correctness of such action.

As we commemorate the world press freedom day this year, it has become imperative for the press across the globe to reflect more deeply on the need to take a professional position in relations to embracing, engaging and deploying the IoT Revolution while maintaining utmost sense of professional or social responsibility targeted at minimizing the manifest as well as latent demerits of the applications of Artificial Intelligence for instance to journalism processes and practices.

The 21st century journalist cannot afford to lag behind in terms of learning and  relearning how to deploy digital technological tools to counter falsehood, fake news and other wrong uses of IoT for circulation of destructive propaganda as it is been done by certified and professionally trained Fact Checkers who are equipped with the relevant digital tools for fact checking news items of varying nature from pictures, to audio clips, to videos as well as internet site links for authenticity, credibility and truthfulness.

There can be no better way to optimize IoT than when journalists use it to fact check and counter falsehood, misinformation and disinformation in real time.

Given the unprecedented speed, conservation of energy and ease of operations that IoT brings to bear in modern print and broadcast journalism practice with the use of sophisticated tech equipment for investigative journalism and the ease of operations drone technology and use of robotic cameras and equipment guarantee for coverage of difficult scenarios, it can be said without fear of contradiction that the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is the future of journalism! Opening up unlimited vistas of information gathering and processing. The future is indeed here yet holding far more promising prospects for progressives in the age long fourth estate or realm of government.

It therefore stands to reason that the best way to prepare for the future of journalism and shape that future is to embrace digital technology with an open but firm mind that is bent on optimizing its benefits while minimizing the threats it poses to the core journalistic values of objectivity, credibility and responsibility.

Happy World Press Freedom Day!

Olufemi Orunsola (Member, Society of Nigerian Broadcasters), a Media Entrepreneur and Consultant writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

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