The overnight success of ChatGPT was reportedly designated a 'code red' threat at Google -- which has announced it is releasing its own conversational chatbot named Bard
Google is reportedly developing an artificial intelligence tool that could generate news content. AFP


  • Google is reportedly pitching an AI tool as a newsroom assistant
  • Google and Facebook receive advertising revenue news organizations used to claim
  • More AI-generated content will continue to appear in news around the world

Google is reportedly looking to use artificial intelligence to assist major media organizations in writing the news items it distributes around the world.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported Alphabet Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Google is pitching it — along with other major American papers such as The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post — an AI product it calls Genesis, which can generate its own news content.

In an email to International Business Times, Google said it is in "the earliest stages" of exploring ideas to "potentially" provide AI-enabled tools to help journalists with their work.

"AI-enabled tools could assist journalists with options for headlines or different writing styles," Google's statement said. "Our goal is to give journalists the choice of using these emerging technologies in a way that enhances their work and productivity.

"These tools are not intended to, and cannot, replace the essential role journalists have in reporting, creating, and fact-checking their articles."

News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS), the owner of Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and other media properties in the U.S. and abroad, declined to comment on Genesis. James Kennedy, a spokesman for News Corp., provided a statement to IBT that said the company has an "excellent relationship with Google."

"We appreciate (Alphabet CEO) Sundar Pichai's long-term commitment to journalism," the statement said.

The Washington Post and The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) declined a request for comment from IBT.

Google, and others in internet technology, already upended the media business worldwide by replacing many of the services local news outlets provided. In an interview with International Business Times, Martha Steffens, a professor at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, said using AI to assist in the creation of news items would be a logical step for the company.

Steffens, also a Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing chair in business and financial journalism, said in the past Americans couldn't find a job, buy a car or rent an apartment without buying a newspaper and reading the classified ads.

Now, Google, Facebook — owned by Meta Platforms Inc. (NASDAQ: META) — and others provide that search service for free. This permanently removed essential revenue sources from the news industry. The change was particularly painful for local news operations and is a key factor in the protracted decline of American and international newsrooms.

Steffens said the news industry's loss was Alphabet and Meta's gain. Ad revenue that used to finance local newsrooms now goes directly to the technology companies. Surviving news operations rely on Facebook and Google for readers.

"Getting audience through search or through share comes with a pretty high price," Steffens told IBT. "Everybody has to go through (Google and Facebook) first to find the story they are looking for. Very few people go directly to the (news) website."

It's unclear whether Genesis could actually write its own news articles. However, Steffens said major news agencies, like the Associated Press, are already using AI to write articles about sports and publicly traded companies' earnings reports.

Steffens said she and her students are researching ChatGPT's current capabilities for writing news. She said they found the program is good at looking backwards and making comparisons. As Google said, AI could be a useful assistant for performing some of the legwork involved in daily journalism.

Chatbots can come up with questions, write emails, information requests or background statements and generate historical timelines. AI can do it in seconds, too.

AI, she said, is also much more effective than humans at attracting people to social media posts because it can identify and use the correct key words and phrases to get clicks.

However, she identified some of the so-called hallucinations where ChatGPT would write articles about less famous people and include information that sounded true but was actually false.

"There's still a huge potential for error, for misinformation and erroneous information to be put into a story," Steffens said. "(There's) still a screaming need for human interaction and human oversight."

It's unclear what the ultimate impact of AI writing will be on the news business and on the global flow of information. Most people, she said, already cannot tell the difference between AI- and human-written text.

She believes AI will continue to shift jobs in journalism and elsewhere. It can, as Google said, help newsrooms strapped for staff and can potentially allow journalists to do more with the time and resources they do have. It may even create new jobs in media eventually.

"AI will produce more content, that's for sure," Steffens said. "The quality of that content needs to be supervised."

The Genesis news emerged as the Federal Trade Commission is allegedly investigating OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, for potential consumer risks posed by the AI chatbot. On Wednesday, Meta and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) released the infrastructure of a chatbot they call Llama 2 to the world. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is also, reportedly, working on its chatbot, too.

On Friday, President Joe Biden announced the White House secured voluntary commitments from leading AI companies centered on providing safe, secure and trustworthy technology. It's not clear whether the commitment is legally binding.

President Biden Delivers Remarks on Artificial Intelligence (YouTube/The White House)

"Realizing the promise of AI by managing the risk is going to require some new laws regulations and oversight," Biden said Friday. "In the weeks ahead, I am going to continue to take executive action to help America lead the way toward responsible innovation and we're going to work with both parties to develop appropriate legislation and regulation."