In the interest of “productivity,” Google is testing a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool for journalists, and it has pitched it to the nation’s leading news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal.
Dubbed “Genesis,” the tool “can take in information — details of current events, for example — and generate news content,” according to three Times sources who wish to remain anonymous.
“One of the three people familiar with the product said that Google believed it could serve as a kind of personal assistant for journalists, automating some tasks to free up time for others, and that the company saw it as responsible technology that could help steer the publishing industry away from the pitfalls of generative A.I.,” The Times reports.
In a statement, Google spokeswoman Jenn Crider revealed 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.”
She dispelled any thoughts that actual journalists will lose their jobs over Genesis.
“Quite simply, these tools are not intended to, and cannot, replace the essential role journalists have in reporting, creating and fact-checking their articles,” she said, adding that they can help write headlines and offer options for various writing styles.
Job security aside for a moment, the more concerning issue behind the use of a Google-deployed AI “helper” should be that it will be programmed and, presumably, “taught” Google’s values.
The Google Foundation, the “corporate charitable arm of Alphabet, Inc., and its subsidiary, Google,” is a “major funder of left-wing advocacy, having contributed at least $70 million in the decade between 2007-2016 to organizations such as the Tides Foundation, a provider of ideologically left-wing donor-advised funds; Netroots, an annual conference of leftist bloggers; and the Natural Resources Defense Council, a left-wing environmentalist organization,” according to Influence Watch.
And then there’s the Google News Initiative, which Influence Watch describes as a “journalism training and funding project” that has “provided over $189 million in funding to news organizations and journalist training programs.”
“The project offers a variety of training tools centered around using technology and journalism,” according to Influence Watch, and has “partnered with openly left-leaning news outlets such as Vox and The Guardian, as well as ostensibly mainstream metropolitan-liberal news sources including the Washington Post and the New York Times.”
Additionally, the project “partners with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a nonprofit that publishes the Tampa Bay Times and operates the controversial left-of-center PolitiFact fact-checking organization, which has received steady criticism for its left-leaning bias.”
In other words, Genesis will almost certainly be well-versed in the most progressive agendas on the planet and will be able, in the blink of an eye, to spit out the most effectively-worded headlines and stories to spread what many see as weapons-grade propaganda to the masses, minus any of that pesky human sensibility or critical thinking.
That AI is learning from left-leaning news organizations is undisputed.
Just last week, the Associate Press (AP) announced it has entered into a deal with ChatGPT-maker OpenAI to “license AP’s archive of news stories.”
The AP reported:
OpenAI and other technology companies must ingest large troves of written works, such as books, news articles and social media chatter, to improve their AI systems known as large language models. Last year’s release of ChatGPT has sparked a boom in “generative AI” products that can create new passages of text, images and other media.
The tools have raised concerns about their propensity to spout falsehoods that are hard to notice because of the system’s strong command of the grammar of human languages. They also have raised questions about to what extent news organizations and others whose writing, artwork, music or other work was used to “train” the AI models should be compensated.
“Under that deal, the AP will open up its story archives to help train ChatGPT, in exchange for access to OpenAI’s tools and expertise in generative AI,” the Daily Mail reports, adding that the AP “has been using a simpler form of artificial intelligence in some of its work for about a decade.”
According to The Times, some executives “who saw Google’s pitch described it as unsettling.”
“If this technology can deliver factual information reliably, journalists should use the tool,” said Jeff 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, then it could damage the credibility not only of the tool, but of the news organizations that use it.”
While The Times said it has “notified employees that they intend to explore potential uses of A.I. to see how it might be responsibly applied to the high-stakes realm of news, where seconds count and accuracy is paramount,” it also notes that the articles AI could generate, “if not edited and checked carefully, could spread misinformation and affect how traditionally written stories are perceived.”
And AI is certainly capable of making “mistakes.”
“Earlier this year, tech news outlet CNET issued corrections on 41 of the 77 stories the outlet published that were written using an AI tool,” according to the Daily Mail.
Still, News Corp seems optimistic about Genesis.
“We have an excellent relationship with Google, and we appreciate Sundar Pichai’s long-term commitment to journalism,” a News Corp spokesman told The Times in a statement.
On Twitter, however, many were unimpressed.
“This is hilarious,” stated Dilbert creator Scott Adams. “Does Google thinks those entities are trying to write real news stories or did Google add some fake narrative options to the product?”
“If AI could produce unbiased news, it would rip apart the fabric of civilization,” he added. “So it will be banned or ‘manned’ so it doesn’t tell so much truth.”
This is hilarious. Does Google thinks those entities are trying to write real news stories or did Google add some fake narrative options to the product?
If AI could produce unbiased news, it would rip apart the fabric of civilization. So it will be banned or “manned” so it… https://t.co/NbLkSEfpOH
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) July 20, 2023
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