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Media companies grapple with AI both inside and outside newsrooms



Many leading media companies have taken a stance against allowing artificial intelligence (AI), like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, into the newsrooms, and have withheld permission for AI to scan their content on the web. 

It has been reported that multiple mainstream media companies including CNN, the New York Times and Reuters have coded their platforms to stop OpenAI’s web crawler GPTBot from having access to their content.

The web crawler was released on Aug. 8 to potentially improve future ChatGPT models by indexing content from websites across the web.

Additionally, a CNN report claimed other news and media giants have also done the same, including Disney, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Axios, Insider, ABC News and ESPN among others. Major publishing houses like Condé Nast and Vox Media have also taken measures against AI.

Danielle Coffey, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, told a CNN reporter that with AI in the picture: 

“I see a heightened sense of urgency when it comes to addressing the use, and misuse, of our content.”

Already AI developers have been faced with lawsuits pertaining to copyright infringement from material used to train models. On July 12, Google was hit with a lawsuit for its then-new AI data-scraping privacy policy. 

Prior to that, author Sarah Silverman and two others sued Meta and OpenAI for using her copyrighted work to train their systems without the proper consent.

Back in April, the CEO of News Corp Australia was ahead of the game when he argued that ChatGPT and similar AI systems must pay for the news consumed.

To ban or not to ban

It’s not just media companies that have been proactive in banning the usage of AI chatbots in the workplace or banning the systems from accessing content. 

In May tech-giants Samsung and Apple both banned the internal usage of AI chatbots like ChatGPT, over concerns of sensitive internal data being outsourced by the models.

Related: Academia divided over ChatGPT’s left political bias claims

Prior to that a slew of financial service companies such as JPMorgan, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup also banned the internal use of generative AI tools.

On June 26, the United States House banned its members from using all AI chatbots, with the exception of ChatGPT Plus due to its incorporation of “important privacy features” that can help protect sensitive data.

Media embracing AI – for better or worse

While many are putting up guard against the invasiveness of the technology, others have been eyeing it – even experimenting with it.

Entertainment giant Netflix appears to be looking into incorporating AI in one way or another, based on job listings in July offering high-paying AI roles.

The media site BuzzFeed recently shuttered its news division and laid off 180 staff employees, then shortly after in its Q1 earnings call said it will be “leaning into AI.”

One example of AI incorporation into media going wrong occurred in May, when an Irish daily newspaper had to apologize for unknowingly publishing an AI-generated article. It claimed it was “deliberately deceived” into believing the identity of a guest writer was human, however, it turned out to be AI.

AI for enterprise

A report conducted on Aug. 28 also revealed that the concern spills over into the consumers, with nearly three-quarters concerned about the unethical use of AI by firms.

This comes shortly after OpenAI released a version of its ChatGPT AI chatbot for businesses, with four times the power of the consumer version. It claims that the enterprise version is twice as fast as GPT-4, with enhanced privacy and security standards.

Prior to the release of the enterprise-focused chatbot, an IBM blockchain and AI expert said that the model poses several ‘key risks’ for business use. These centered primarily around the risk of sensitive internal data being compromised, which was a major concern for many of the aforementioned businesses who banned chatbots.

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