Aug 30, 2023
Google Tests AI-Powered News Writing Tool and Engages with News Outlets
According to a recent report by The New York Times, Google is in the process of testing an AI-driven tool for news article composition and has initiated discussions with publications about its potential. The AI tool, internally referred to as "Genesis," is designed to ingest information and generate news content. Google envisions this tool as a potential aid to journalists, automating certain tasks to enable them to allocate more time to other aspects of their work. The company views this tool as a form of "responsible technology."
Sources indicate that Google has approached prominent news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal. However, some executives who were presented with the tool expressed concerns, finding it somewhat unsettling as it seemed to overlook the effort required for crafting accurate news stories.
In response to inquiries, a Google spokesperson conveyed the company's intent: "In partnership with news publishers, especially smaller publishers, we’re in the earliest stages of exploring ideas to potentially provide AI-enabled tools to help journalists with their work." The spokesperson further clarified that the aim is to offer journalists choices in utilizing emerging AI technologies in ways that enhance productivity, similar to how assistive tools are accessible in Gmail and Google Docs. The spokesperson stressed that these AI tools are not intended to replace the fundamental roles journalists play in research, creation, and fact-checking of articles.
The report emerges against the backdrop of various news organizations, including NPR and Insider, expressing interest in responsibly integrating AI into their newsroom processes.
While some news entities like The Associated Press have previously employed AI for generating stories, typically for topics such as corporate earnings, these AI-generated articles form only a fraction of the total content produced by journalists.
Google's new AI tool, although aiming to streamline news creation, has also sparked concerns within the industry due to the potential risks associated with AI-generated articles lacking thorough fact-checking and editorial oversight. Previous instances, such as American media website CNET's attempt at AI-generated content, have shown that AI-produced articles can sometimes contain factual errors or plagiarized content. The website had to issue corrections for over half of the AI-generated articles and add editor's notes indicating updates by staff writers.
The testing of Google's AI-powered news writing tool underscores the ongoing exploration of AI's role in the news industry and the balance required between automation and journalistic integrity.