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Google is developing AI tools to help journalists report the news

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Google is developing AI-powered tools to help journalists research and write news stories, a development that is likely to piss off the media industry after years of painful job cuts.

The California-based tech giant said Thursday that Google is working with media outlets, especially smaller publishers, to provide AI-powered tools to help journalists with “options for different headlines or writing styles.”

Describing the company’s “early stages of exploring ideas,” Google spokeswoman Jane Crider said in a statement, “Our goal is to give journalists the choice to use these emerging technologies in a way that enhances their work and productivity, just as we provide people with helpful tools in Gmail and Google Docs.”

Quite simply, these tools are not intended and cannot replace the primary role journalists play in reporting, creating and fact-checking their stories.

This development is likely to fuel a growing debate about the risks and benefits of AI-powered platforms, such as ChatGPT, which has amazed users with its ability to mimic human speech, but raised concerns about copyright infringement, misinformation and the substitution of human workers.

The global media industry has been devastated by successive rounds of layoffs amid collapsing print advertising revenue, with US newsrooms alone shedding 17,436 jobs in the first five months of 2023.

The New York Times first reported on Google’s development of the tool, known as Genesis, which the newspaper said it provided to news outlets including the Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal owner News Corp.

In its report, the newspaper said some news executives who saw Google’s offering called it “disturbing” and cited people familiar with the product.

While some media organizations have started using generative AI, newsrooms in general have been slow to adopt the technology for newsgathering purposes due to concerns about accuracy, plagiarism, and copyright.

Last week, The Associated Press announced a partnership with OpenAI that will allow a creator of ChatGPT to use the news organization’s archives dating back to 1985 to train their AI.

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