Google paying some news publishers for AI-generated articles

Generative AI is an incredible tool when it’s used properly, but one big fear is that AI will be used to flood the internet with articles. Despite this, though, Google is reportedly paying some independent publishers fairly large sums of money to publish AI-generated articles on their websites using an AI model that’s not yet been released.

A report from AdWeek reveals an agreement between Google and “a handful of independent publishers” which would see AI-generated articles using Google’s AI models published on these websites. The agreement calls for analytical data and feedback for these AI-generated articles and “a fixed volume of content for 12 months.” This also apparently comes with monthly payouts from Google that amount to more than $10,000 annually in some cases while also getting free access to the tools used to create these articles. The program is apparently a part of the Google News Initiative which was introduced in 2018.

While there are likely some nefarious use cases for such tools, this particular deal seems to at least have good intentions, apparently being focused on assisting “under-resourced publishers” in creating “aggregated content” from data provided by other sources, with examples including “government agencies and neighboring news outlets.”

The report goes on to mention, troublingly, that publishers participating in the program would need to “compile a list of external websites that regularly produce news and reports relevant to their readership.” The tool’s dashboard giving the user the option to get an AI-generated summary of a post from that external website which can then be edited, or immediately published after being checked by a human editor. Google’s agreement requires three such articles per day, one newsletter per week, and one marketing campaign per month.

There’s no requirement for these articles to be marked as AI-generated.

Google partially confirmed the report, but also denied that the tools would “re-publish other outlets’ work.” Google says:

In partnership with news publishers, especially smaller publishers, we’re in the early stages of exploring ideas to potentially provide AI-enabled tools to help journalists with their work. This speculation about this tool being used to re-publish other outlets’ work is inaccurate. The experimental tool is being responsibly designed to help small, local publishers produce high quality journalism using factual content from public data sources—like a local government’s public information office or health authority. These tools are not intended to, and cannot, replace the essential role journalists have in reporting, creating and fact-checking their articles.

While it’s unclear what Google’s ultimate plans are with this new set of AI tools, this isn’t a new effort. In July, reports revealed Google’s “Genesis” tool which was pitched as a “personal assistant for journalists” which could “generate news copy.”

Publishers using this new AI tool were apparently first given access earlier this month, but there’s no word on any publications using the tools.

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