The New York Times reports that Google is developing an AI that can write news stories. It isn’t clear exactly how this technology will differ from already existing artificial intelligence systems that have been used to generate articles, or from its AI chatbot Google Bard. However, Google has reportedly already pitched its new AI tool to news organisations such as the Washington Post, News Corp, and the New York Times itself.
Currently being developed under the working title “Genesis,” Google’s journalism bot can supposedly generate news copy when supplied with details of events. According to the Times‘ anonymous sources, Genesis is intended to act as a personal assistant to journalists.
Of course, it’s quite possible that said journalists’ bosses might see such technology less as a tool for their employees and more as a replacement for them.
There’s been significant ongoing concern that the use of AI for news reporting could fuel the spread of misinformation. AI systems and chatbots such as Google Bard have proven themselves much less adept at fact-checking than human journalists, and are prone to declaring incorrect information with conviction and authority.
This has already landed some AI systems such as ChatGPT in hot legal water. A Georgia radio host sued ChatGPT for defamation last month, after it supplied an incorrect summary of a federal court case that wrongfully stated he had defrauded his employer and embezzled funds. Earlier in May, a lawyer who used ChatGPT to prepare legal filings was caught citing cases that did not exist — the AI appeared to have completely made them up.
Google will no doubt attempt to preempt similar issues in Genesis, as factual errors would be of particular concern in an artificial intelligence system designed for journalism.
No matter how sophisticated Google makes it, a journalism AI won’t be able to interview sources, experience events, or do any investigative reporting itself. Even so, with news writers now commonly shackled to their computers to churn out multiple stories each day, it could be argued that most journalists aren’t getting the opportunity to do that anyway.