Google Testing AI That Can Generate News: Report

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Google is currently conducting tests on a new product that utilises artificial intelligence (AI) technology to generate news stories, according to three sources familiar with the matter, as reported by The New York Times. The product, internally known as Genesis, has been presented to various news organisations, including NYT, The Washington Post, and News Corp, the owner of The Wall Street Journal.

Genesis works by ingesting information, such as current events details, and then autonomously creating news content. Google envisions this tool as a potential personal assistant for journalists, aiming to automate certain tasks and free up time for more critical aspects of reporting. The company believes it could contribute positively to the publishing industry, helping to avoid pitfalls associated with generative AI.

Despite Google’s intentions, some executives who were exposed to the product’s pitch found it disconcerting. They expressed concerns about the assumption that producing accurate and compelling news stories requires minimal effort. The tool’s proposal has stirred debate about the role of AI in journalism, its potential advantages, and potential downsides.

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Jenn Crider, a Google spokeswoman, clarified that the company is exploring the idea of providing AI-enabled tools to assist journalists, particularly smaller publishers. However, she emphasised that these tools are not meant to replace journalists’ essential role in reporting, creating, and fact-checking articles. Instead, they could offer support in generating headlines and writing styles.

While some experts like Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor, view the potential benefits of using such technology if employed responsibly, there are concerns about misusing AI in nuanced and culturally sensitive topics, which could damage credibility.

Various news organisations worldwide are grappling with the decision to integrate AI tools into their workflows. Many have informed their employees of their intent to explore AI’s responsible application in the high-stakes realm of news reporting.

Google’s Genesis is likely to raise concerns among journalists who have been manually crafting articles for years. Although AI has been used to generate certain news articles, it remains a small fraction compared to those produced by journalists. The wider application of AI in content generation could raise worries about misinformation and the potential impact on traditionally written stories.

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For Google, the development and implementation of generative AI technology have been swift but not without challenges. The company has traditionally curated information and directed users to publishers’ websites for further reading. However, certain AI tools, like the chatbot Bard, have been criticised for presenting incorrect factual assertions without redirecting users to authoritative sources.

Governments worldwide have urged Google to share more advertising revenue with news outlets, leading the company to establish partnerships with news organisations under its News Showcase program. Some publishers have also voiced concerns about AI companies using their data without proper compensation.

The implications of AI technology in journalism remain a topic of debate, and its responsible and ethical implementation will be vital to its potential success and impact on the industry.

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