Google is reportedly testing a new AI tool known as ‘Genesis’ that could produce news articles. The tool is a large language model (LMM), which is the same foundation for systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Bard, and Microsoft’s Bing Chat.
The tool has already been pitched to news organizations like The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal’s owner, News Corp, according to several reports.
The New York Times reported that Genesis is meant to assist journalists develop news articles as it chips in with current affairs data. Google sees the tool as a personal assistant for journalists, providing extra help by handling tasks that can be automated.
“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,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to Insider.
The reports further highlight that executives who saw the tool’s pitch from Google described it as unsettling. They believe the AI undermines the effort that journalists put into producing news stories.
Genesis is expected to help journalists craft headlines for different writing styles, among other things. The tool can also adapt to a particular media organization’s style as well as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices, which will assist organizations that require such functionalities.
There are worries that AI could lead to massive job losses in the journalism fraternity worldwide. Google has refuted this notion by disclosing that the company only wants to enhance efficiency in the same way that AI is now available for Google Docs and Gmail.
“These tools are not intended to replace the role journalists have in reporting, creating and factchecking their articles,” said the company.
“Our goal is to give journalists the choice of using these emerging technologies in a way that enhances their productivity, just like we’re making assistive tools available for people in Gmail and in Google Docs.”
Google AI tool unsettles many
Executives who saw the tool’s pitch from Google are unsettled by the AI. A News Corp spokesperson told the New York Times that: “We have an excellent relationship with Google, and we appreciate Sundar Pichai’s long-term commitment to journalism.”
Commenting on the development, journalism professor Jeff Jarvis acknowleged that there are both advantages and disadvantages to having such AI tools introduced into the industry.
“If this technology can deliver factual information reliably, journalists should use the tool.”
He also highlighted that if the tool were to produce misleading news it would cause damage not only to Google but also the AI itself and the organizations using it.
Google’s Genesis news generator comes at a time media organizations are looking at ways of using artificial intelligence in their operations.
These include The New York Times, Insider and Gannet, which is the largest newspaper publisher in the US. According to the Guardian, Europe’s top newspaper, Bild tabloid of Germany, let go of 200 people and indicated there might be more future job cuts due to “the opportunities of AI.”
As the wave of AI continues, organizations are looking at taking advantage of the technology to optimize operations. For news organizations, this will just be a case of following trends. Earlier this year, Kuwait news outlet unveiled the country’s first AI-generated news anchor with plans for her to read online bulletines.
As reported by Metanews, the AI news anchor who introduced herself as Fedha stunned viewers from all over the world.
A Chinese news agency also introduced a virtual news reader in 2018, which at that time had a robotic voice leaving the market with reservations although Xinhua News hyped the presenter claiming it could “read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor.”
Although Google has not officially commented about the news writing tool, it is however not surprising the company is stepping up efforts in the media industry with AI powered services.
The Alphabet owned company recently updated their ChatGPT rival chatbot Bard to include image input and chat storage and these features still remain free compared to OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4.0.