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Convergence of AI, digital platforms, and popular culture


Al has been a major consideration in contemporary digital capitalism and culture. Although Al is considered a new digital technology, Al already seems to be ever present in our modern era. While “we are still many years away from having robots at our beck and call, Al has already had a profound impact in more subtle ways” in several areas such as weather forecasts; Google’s search predictions; and voice recognition, such as Apple’s Siri. What these new technologies have in common are “machine learning algorithms that enable them to react and respond in real time” (Shani, 2015). The role of Al has also continued to increase in the media and cultural sectors on a large scale, and Al technology has especially been utilized with digital platforms, such as search engines, social media, and smartphones, as well as over-the-top (OTT) service platforms like Netflix, which has been consequently reshaping the media and cultural industries, since the early 21st century. Due to Al’s increasing role in cultural production, from the production of popular culture and media information to the consumption of this media and cultural content, it is crucial to understand Al-related technologies and digital platforms, as well as relevant socio-cultural mechanisms, including policy measures, together and to examine their convoluted relationships.

It was not long ago when people talked about the influence of digital technologies in cultural production. Only about 20 years ago, people were interested in what happened to cultural products when they were crafted and distributed through digital channels. Historically, the most influential digital technologies like the internet “reduced the price of entry into a cultural field, creating openings for actors and organizations who were previously unable to get their work into the public” (Klinenberg and Benzecry, 2005, 8). For example, artists could easily change and repackage digitally recorded music and video, sampling tunes or assembling images into new work, occasionally with high commercial or aesthetic value. News companies could repurpose content across platforms, adapting a single digital file to suit a newspaper article, internet publication, or teleprompter script. This was a significant

Al, digital platforms, and popular culture 17 transformation since it changed the meaning of cultural products and, in turn, the status of professional journalistic labor (Klinenberg and Benzecry, 2005, 8). With Al, algorithms, and big data, people’s interest in and use of these cutting-edge digital technologies have soared. This has not been limited to cultural producers but includes users as consumers.

Therefore, it is necessary to define the major characteristics of Al and digital platforms, which also becomes a foundation for the convergence of Al and popular culture. In this chapter, I first construct how the histories and concepts of Al and digital platforms have evolved in media and cultural research. I especially examine the ways in which we understand Al in the realms of media and popular culture, not only in the production of popular culture and media content but also in the distribution and consumption. Then, I address the role of digital platforms supported by Al in cultural production, focusing on their role as mediators, and therefore, I attempt to discuss the crucial connection of these two fundamental digital technologies. Eventually, this chapter develops the ideas of convergence between Al and digital platforms in the cultural sector in order to understand the nexus of Al, digital platforms, and popular culture as one of the most significant trends in the early 21st century. The final part discusses the theoretical development of our perspectives on the possibility of Al as a digital platform.

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