Google Tests Generative News Tools Google funds newsrooms to test AI-powered article generation tools.

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Google Tests Generative News Tools: Google funds newsrooms to test AI-powered article generation tools.

Google is paying newsrooms to use a system that helps transform press releases into articles.

What’s new: Google has recruited a small number of independent news outlets for a one-year test of generative publishing tools, Adweek reported. The system reads external web pages and produces articles that editors can revise and publish.

How it works: Google requires publishers to use the system to produce and publish three articles per day, one newsletter per week, and one marketing campaign per month. (It doesn’t require them to label the system’s output as AI-generated.) In exchange, publishers receive a monthly stipend that amounts to more than $10,000 annually. 

  • Publishers compile a list of external websites that produce information that may interest its readers, such as government websites or those of similar news outlets. Whenever one of the indexed websites publishes a new page, the system notifies the publisher.
  • At the publisher’s choice, an unidentified generative model summarizes the page’s content. It color-codes the output according to its similarity to the source: yellow for text copied nearly verbatim, blue for somewhat similar material, and red for sentences that least resemble the source.
  • A human editor can review the generated text before publishing it.

Behind the news: The pilot program is part of the Google News Initiative, through which the tech giant provides media literacy programs, fact-checking tools, and digital publishing tools to news outlets. Last year, Google demonstrated a tool known as Genesis to news outlets including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Like the new system, Genesis took in public information and generated news articles. It also suggested headlines and different writing styles. Then, as now, observers worried that Google eventually would use its tools to bypass news outlets by publishing news summaries directly in search results. 

Why it matters: Such partnerships could yield dividends for Google and publishers alike. Google can learn what publishers need and how a generative model built to produce news holds up under the pressure of deadlines and audiences. Publishers can gain experience that may help them avoid the criticisms that greeted outlets like CNET,  Gizmodo, and Sports Illustrated, whose initial efforts to publish generated articles were either hidden behind false bylines or marred by factual inaccuracies.

We’re thinking: Text generation could be a boon to publishers. Checking generated text (or, indeed, any synthetic media) for similarity to its source material is a sensible feature that could be useful in a variety of applications. Yet the utility of a system that summarizes individual web pages is limited, and the temptation to echo competitors may be hard to resist. We look forward to further improvements that enable agents that can assimilate and analyze text from disparate sources.


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