What possessed Irish Newspaper group Iconic Media to let Chat GPT loose to write an opinion piece with this headline across their network of local newspaper (!) titles?
Was it a desire for clickbait? A pure experiment? Or a moment of extreme laziness?
Either way, if this is the future, things aren't looking good for local journalism.
Originally the article did list 'AI Generated' where you'd expect the Author's name to be. And stated: "NOTE: This article was written by Chat GPT - an artificial intelligence chatbot. It was asked: Should refugees in Ireland go home?"
But the backlash - led partly by the National Union of Journalists, which expressed 'grave concern' over the article, prompted Iconic Media to update the disclaimer and replace the refugees headline in papers like Limerick Live to ask "Can we trust Artificial Intelligence?"
Let me answer that one for you:
Humans made the decisions here. The decision to publish. The decision to ask the question. The decision to frame the headline.
Compare Iconic Media's use of AI to the Guardian's. Yesterday, under the Editor in Chief's byline, Katherine Viner at the Guardian summarised their approach to generative AI in an email to readers:
First, any use of genAI must have human oversight. The Guardian will remain a champion of journalism by people, about people, for people. Gen AI tools will only be used when there is a clear and obvious case for them, and only with the express permission of a senior editor. We will be open with our readers when we do this.
Second, any use of genAI will focus on situations where it can improve the quality, not the quantity, of our work, for example helping interrogate vast datasets containing important revealing insights, or assisting our commercial teams in certain business processes.
Third, to avoid exploiting the intellectual property of creators, a guiding principle for the Guardian will be the degree to which genAI systems have considered copyright permissioning and fair reward.
Yes, the Guardian is an international and wealthy media publisher.
But those principles should (broadly) be followed by anyone who communicates for a living - from PRs and advertisers, through to newspaper publishers.
To quote Mike Skinner: Common sense. Simple common sense.