The rise of personal AI

In our final instalment of the Navigating the AI Dust Storm series, we focus on the impact that Generative AI has had and will continue to have on News Media and how players in the industry have adapted to and adopted the technology including GPT-4 plugins.

The big change underlying AI models, which has led to the emergence of the AI boom, has been the exponential growth of neural-networks. As a result, some of the biggest players in the field feel as though if there is not already, there soon will be an AI for everything in a users’ life.

Pi, Jeeves and Spotify’s AI DJ

Regarding Generative AI, personal AI has begun to take off. The likes of personal trainers, personal coaches, personal tutors, have abounded throughout the space. A recent development in the AI chat bot space is the emergence of more approachable, personable interfaces.

Particularly of interest is that of PI. This AI has a similar outline to ChatGPT but where ChatGPT maintains an arms length distance of friendliness, opting for the colder and more aloof nature that we would expect of an Artificial Intelligence, PI offers a chummier approach. Contrasting ChatGPT‘s initial example prompts of “explain quantum computing in simple terms” with “let’s talk about whatever’s on your mind”, PI offers a less obviously “tech-y” and masculine face to the breakthrough and presents itself as a friendly resource. While this framing isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, Ask Jeeves showed long ago how this approach was useful for people, especially those less familiar with the technology, it has reemerged as a way to connect with the technology and to bring more people into the space. Further, Character.ai has been shown to essentially allow you to create a friend, by chatting with a collection of user-created characters. Amusingly, people seem to have gotten a remarkable kick out of speaking with the virtual likes of Elon Musk.

We see the ultimate direction that news media companies are heading in with the assistance of AI is automated versioning. By this, publishers would be able to offer content to each individual on an individual basis. Gearing stories and content to each user at an individual level, ensuring that they are catered to specifically. Taking a note from Spotify‘s recent personal DJ AI, publishers would be able to generate multiple versions of content and fine tune them to the specific user.

How has News Media adapted?

In the News Media space, there is no shortage of detractors on the breakthrough technologies with CEO of News Corp, Robert Thomson proclaiming at the INMA conference in May that AI is just “Wikipedia on amphetamines”. However, we see it a bit differently. We believe that, with a few of the main challenges brought to the forefront, how the news media adapts will determine its longevity.

CEO of Mediahuis, Gert Ysebaert said “AI will augment journalism, not replace it”. In this we see one of the main tests of the news media: how to accommodate the technological breakthroughs to make journalism better. At Schibsted, this has been taken to heart. An advance brought forward by the ingenuity of the in-house team along with new resources provided by OpenAI’s recent updates, has given life to JOJO. This new breakthrough has allowed 1,000 hours of work to be completed in 3 weeks. JOJO seeks to transcribe audio, across a wide range of languages, to bring to readers and listeners the best content possible while freeing up the hands of transcribers.

Photo: JOJO

Further taking advantage of automating certain drudgery of journalism, the Associated Press has long shown the benefits of automating certain aspects of their process. In the worlds of sports and finance where time constraints often result in attention only being paid to those at the top, the AP’s automation of game recaps and quarterly earning stories have been seen to free up the time of journalists to focus on nuance rather than crunching numbers and has allowed often overlooked firms to garner more attention, making waves in the markets.

Looking towards how publishers have adapted AI to make themselves fit more seamlessly into the lives of readers, Aftenposten has rolled out a voice clone of Anne Lindholm, famed podcaster for the outlet, to read aloud articles on their website. This addresses another key feature of AI integration within a news organisation beyond simply lessening the workload of staff and journalists. Allowing AI to offer to readers something that simply would not be possible otherwise and create value for them. Used effectively, as the case in Aftenposten, this takes advantage of the increasing nature of Norwegians to flock towards audio, making many articles more accessible and approachable as they are accompanied by a trusted presenter.

Leading the pack in the US, Gannett has taken a strong yet measured approach to the introduction of AI. Being cautious of the “hallucination” possibilities of the technology, Gannett has been calculated in their rolling out of features. Next quarter, Gannett will go live with a pilot program whereby AI will be used to identify the most significant points of an article and condense them into bulleted summaries on the top of the article. All of the involvement of AI will be done with a human in the loop, ensuring that accuracy and judgment is always checked.

GPT-4 Plug ins for Die Welt and AI News Roundup

With the proliferation of GPT-4, the world of news is quick to adopt and adapt to the new technology. WELT is a prime example. The German media brand now provides a plugin for Chat GPT which allows users to access the latest news from WELT directly from ChatGPT. As the first German brand to do so, WELT leads the innovation and will be the one to watch to see what challenges come up as this technology is incorporated.

As seen above, the new GPT technology can easily be used as an aggregator of news from a variety of sources. With the help of an AI News Roundup plugin, the chatbot is able to collect resources from around the Internet that suits the prompt. This is able to be fine tuned to suit the needs of the user. It remains to be seen if users prefer articles and data from a single publisher or an aggregator which collects from across the web.

As the AI Dust Storm continues, publishers will continue to adapt. While it is not always entirely clear how to stay ahead of the game with the changing environment of AI, it is clear that those publishers who embrace and incorporate the changes will be better positioned to guide the future of the industry.

Author

Nicolas Hall

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