AI, with real smarts

“You’ll sleep better, of course, if you don’t think too deeply about how much of your personal information now lives in the corporate domain, and appreciate that your consistency is part of your charm.”

Artificial intelligence will serve us better in 2018, while reminding us that we aren’t that interesting, or that committed to maintaining our privacy.

Audience-centric use of artificial intelligence is predicated on human behavior being pattern-based and, therefore, predictive. When you wake up, what you eat for breakfast, how often you call your mom, what you watch, what you read, and where you shop all generally follow consistent patterns. Our devices — phones, tablets, computers, wearables, and smart-home gadgets; Alexa and Google Home are the “butlers” here but we have the “maids,” too, in lighting systems, vacuums, thermostats, locks and security cameras — are tracking our active and passive digital footprints, and collecting those pattern-based behavior markers.

In 2018, without us even asking, artificial intelligence will begin to serve us in surprisingly helpful ways — less surprisingly, by using all that personal information collected. That’s because connections among our devices and data will be developed, and together, they will inform truely personalized service. Butlers and maids, if you have them, should be looking for new trades.

In 2017, me: “Alexa, what’s the weather tomorrow?”

In 2018, Alexa: “It’s about to be your bedtime, would you like to know the weather tomorrow? Me: “Yes, Alexa.” Alexa: “In Chicago tomorrow, it’s going to be 34 and sunny. You might consider wearing that new down jacket you bought because you have a meeting with David downtown and will have to be at the bus stop by 8:25 in the morning. In your last meeting with David, you said you would follow-up on his request to sort the database you’ve been examining. The file you’ve been working on and want to access is in the work folder on your tablet. Be sure to charge your tablet overnight. Should be a good meeting. Sleep well.”

You’ll sleep better, of course, if you don’t think too deeply about how much of your personal information now lives in the corporate domain, and appreciate that your consistency is part of your charm. Even down to your moods.

Your digital footprint contains your calendar and therefore, with an excellent level of predictive accuracy, artificial intelligence knows your good days and your bad ones. Meeting with the boss, bad. Payday, good. Blind date, bad. Your birthday, good. But real service stems from knowing that on the worst days — the blind dinner dates in which you start texting your friend after only minutes, looking for an exit strategy — you come home, order pizza and watch The Holiday. In 2018, as you leave the restaurant, you’ll get a push notification from Domino’s, asking if you’d like to place your usual order. You respond “yes” and begin tracking its progress. Your Lyft drops you at home, the pizza is only a few minutes away, and Netflix is already tuned to the opening credits. Convenience, it turns out, is more comforting than privacy.

“In the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend,” explained Arthur Abbott (played by Eli Wallach) in The Holiday. In 2018, you’re becoming the leading lady of your own life, surrounded by all your digital friends — thoughtful, personal, and with very long memories.

Rachel Davis Mersey is an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Burt Herman   Things get real

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Paul Ford   Go global

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Jake Levine   The return to now

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Dan Newman   A return to trust

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions