PDM pushes for regulation of AI in journalism

Jennifer van der Heever

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) deputy leader Jennifer van der Heever wants the information ministry to propose a bill regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in Namibia.

Van der Heever on Tuesday tabled questions to information and communication technology minister Emma Theofelus raising concerns about transparency in AI-generated content, fighting misinformation and maintaining journalism ethics.

“This makes one wonder if setting guidelines to protect information integrity and prevent job displacement is premature,” she said.

The PDM deputy president questioned if the ministry had considered the implications of AI on media integrity and journalism ethics.

“Can you provide insights into the government’s strategy and timeline for addressing the utilisation of AI in Namibian media, including plans for regulatory frameworks and industry guidelines?”

The government, alongside the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), last year investigated the responsible and ethical use of AI in Namibia. Over 80 professionals from government, academia, civil society and the private sector met to engage on the implementation of Unesco’s recommendation on the ethics of AI.

Furthermore, Van der Heever questioned the ministry on any ongoing legislative efforts or proposed bills aimed at regulating the use of AI in Namibia.

“Particularly concerning its impact on media transparency, misinformation and job displacement?

The Namibian recently reported that DW Akademie Namibia and southern Africa programme director Peter Deselaers said it’s important for the media industry to explore various technologies to determine their potential impact.

He said experienced editors can quickly pick up whether reporters have used AI.

“One of the biggest risks when using AI is that there is a lack of relevant context, bias or even so-called hallucinations, where the text generator makes up facts.

“In journalism, there should always be a human in the loop, who makes sure reporting is accurate, has relevant context and is factually true,” he said.

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