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AI Journalists… Disconcerting Or Just Plain Yuck?

AI Journalists... Disconcerting Or Just Plain Yuck?

In a recent article in the New York Times, it’s reported that Google is working on an artificial intelligence system called Genesis to help write the news.

As many of you know, I’m a former/recovering professional journalist. So I have an opinion on this — ICK!

Everything about it feels yucky and bad news. I’m not alone, many newspaper executives feel the same way.

The purpose of the journalist is to, hopefully, think and provide context to news stories. Are many hard news pieces rather formulaic? Yes. With that in mind they’re perfect for writing news. But as we’ve seen lately with ChatGPT, these AI systems are starting to run out of data to scrape and some are even scraping each other. So that’s concerning too, depending on where Genesis gets it’s data from.

Some executives who saw Google’s pitch described it as unsettling, asking not to be identified discussing a confidential matter. Two people said it seemed to take for granted the effort that went into producing accurate and artful news stories.

Now, can an AI system be used to help aid journalists? Maybe, but everything it outputs really needs to be vetted and fact checked rigoriously.

Jenn Crider, a Google spokeswoman, said in a statement that “in partnership with news publishers, especially smaller publishers, we’re in the earliest stages of exploring ideas to potentially provide A.I.-enabled tools to help their journalists with their work.”

On the whole, the whole idea has me uneasy.

Jeff Jarvis, who is someone who I look up to and is a journalism professor at the City University of New York and a pundit on the This Week in Google podcast, had some interesting views on this in the NYTimes article:

“If this technology can deliver factual information reliably, journalists should use the tool,” said Mr. Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

“If, on the other hand, it is misused by journalists and news organizations on topics that require nuance and cultural understanding,” he continued, “then it could damage the credibility not only of the tool, but of the news organizations that use it.”

And to take this further, journalism is already having a moment of bad credibility as it is.

What do you think? Mash that reply button and let me know!


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