Toronto Metropolitan University
Hack, Nicole MRP.pdf (4.63 MB)

A Portrait of Artificial Intelligence (AI): A Trend Analysis of the Visual Representation of AI in Media

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posted on 2023-05-25, 14:10 authored by Nicole Hack

What does artificial intelligence (AI) look like? A robot with red eyes, a white, plastic line worker, a cybernetic brain, a line of code? Or does it manifest through social and cultural occurrences that illustrate the complex relationships people have to emerging technologies? This article identifies themes in how AI is represented and visualized in news, and participatory media. The study uses science communication theory as well as case studies that identify visual communication as paramount in establishing inclusivity, collaboration, and education for socially driven technology. With visual media as the focus, this study analyzed two hundred media articles over a ten-year period from publications varying in size, nature, and geography. The goal of this study was to identify whether there existed a disconnect in AI literacy between text-based information and visual media that is designed for non-expert audiences. More so, how visual form is assigned to AI as an intangible, and highly representative concept and technology. The results contribute to a larger discourse on how AI is portrayed in, and by science fiction narratives. Lastly, this study adds a modern perspective to science communication research by considering participatory media, economies of attention, and emerging technologies as nuanced factors driving AI discourse, and thus its direction. 





  • Master of Digital Media


  • Digital Media

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Jason Boyd