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What OpenAI’s News Corp deal means for journalism (and for you)

OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, and News Corp, the international media conglomerate, have signed an agreement that will allow OpenAI to use and learn from News Corp content.

In practical terms, this means that when a user asks ChatGPT a question, the results could be based on previous reports in News Corp outlets, including Australian newspapers such as The Australian and The Daily Telegraph. It is not clear whether the agreement includes only editorial content or also opinion content.

OpenAI has licensed News Corp content because generative artificial intelligence (AI) is a voracious beast: it needs data to learn from and generate useful results in return. Your ability to do this is affected by the size and quality of your training data.

But could the media be signing its own death warrant by sharing its journalism? Or do we all benefit from the greater availability of reliable information?

Work with AI or fight against it?

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s flagship service, has learned from consuming publicly available books, articles, and web content. This includes online news articles from the Internet.

However, questions remain unresolved about who owns the content. The New York Times, for example, is suing OpenAI for alleged copyright infringement. By signing deals with media companies, generative AI services like ChatGPT can ensure they stay out of legal trouble by paying to learn from your content.

The quality and provenance of the training data is also important and can lead to bias in what generative AI produces. So it’s notable that while some news media organizations are trying to block their content from being used, others, including the Associated Press, are signing agreements.

ChatGPT is a complex technical system. Just because some outlets opt for licensing deals and others don’t doesn’t mean the technology is more like The Australian than The New York Times.

However, on a broader level, where ChatGPT gets its news content from can affect how it answers questions about current events.

Determining what type of news content is included in each post can also have an impact on how ChatGPT responds to queries. Opinion articles tend to be more sensational than straight news, for example, and sometimes do not accurately reflect current issues.

Jobs on the chopping block?

It also remains to be seen how agreements like these will affect the human work of journalists and editors.

On the one hand, since generative AI needs more and better content to provide better answers, journalists and content creators will be needed to ensure there is continuous training data for AI to learn from.

On the other hand, it is unclear how many journalists organizations like News Corp believe are needed to do that job, with more cuts expected at the organization next week.

A gray rectangular sign that says News Corporation
News Corporation signed an information sharing agreement with OpenAI.
Justin Lane/EPA

At the same time, AI’s ability to “hallucinate” or invent things is well known. The role of editors in fact-checking content and critical thinking among those consuming content is paramount.

In all of this, small and medium-sized players in the media landscape appear to once again be left on the sidelines, as big players fight for lucrative content deals while smaller organizations fight for scraps or go hungry.

Proceed with caution

These deals also raise questions about the role of ABC and SBS in a changing media environment. Australians pay for public service media through their taxes, but OpenAI is not rushing to strike deals with these organizations.

However, companies like OpenAI are gradually accepting the principle that producing quality news costs money and that they need to obtain licenses to use content. If they want to be consistent, there is a strong argument that such companies should not only include public service media content in their models, but also reward these organizations in the process, much like how Google and Meta arranged deals with ABC a via News. Media Bargaining Code.

A man in a suit and shirt moves his hands while talking in front of a blue background
Sam Altman co-founded OpenAI, which created ChatGPT.
Eric Risberg/AP

Where you get your news from is important. More people may use AI services for news in the future, but right now it is a disappointing source of reliable information. Signing content sharing agreements with companies like News Corp can help improve the quality of responses and increase the relevance of ChatGPT results to Australian users.

News Corp also doesn’t have journalists in all communities, so supporting independent media in your local area can help you get quality information and prevent news deserts from growing.

At the end of the day, generative AI doesn’t always do the right thing (and often does it wrong), so treat the results with a healthy level of caution and compare the results with those from trusted sources before using AI-generated content to make decisions. decisions.

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