Google has reportedly been developing an AI-driven news writing tool, codenamed “Genesis,” which can generate news content by taking in information about current events. The tech giant has pitched this tool, still in the testing phase, to major news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal. However, the pitch has raised concerns among some executives who find the concept unsettling, as it seemingly downplays the effort that goes into producing accurate news stories.
According to a The New York Times report, Google sees Genesis as a potential personal assistant for journalists, aiming to automate certain tasks to free up more time for other essential aspects of news reporting. The company envisions the tool as a responsible application of AI, capable of guiding the publishing industry away from the potential pitfalls of generative AI technology.
A Google spokesperson, Jenn Crider, addressed the ongoing project in a statement to Tech Crunch: “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 their journalists with their work. For instance, AI-enabled tools could assist journalists with options for headlines or different writing styles. Our goal is to give journalists the choice of using these emerging technologies in a way that enhances their work and productivity, just like we’re making assistive tools available for people in Gmail and in Google Docs. Quite simply, these tools are not intended to, and cannot, replace the essential role journalists have in reporting, creating, and fact-checking their articles.”
While Google seeks to emphasize the tool’s potential as a helpful assistant, concerns arise regarding the accuracy and reliability of AI-generated news articles. Misinformation and factual errors are significant risks associated with AI-produced content that lacks human oversight and editorial judgment.
The New York Times also reported that Google’s AI model for hospitals showed inaccuracies and irrelevant content compared to real doctors, further highlighting the limitations of relying solely on AI for complex tasks.
Beyond concerns about the AI tool’s capabilities, the news industry’s relationship with Google itself adds complexity to the situation. The media has previously expressed frustrations over issues like ad tech monopolies, lack of proper compensation, and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) controversy. Google’s ever-changing product landscape and fickle attention span for new ventures also raise questions about the long-term viability of Genesis.
As Google continues to explore AI-enabled tools for journalism, news organizations must carefully consider the potential implications of implementing such technology. While AI may offer productivity gains and streamlined processes, it should not replace journalists’ crucial role in producing accurate and reliable news content.