Akshit Pushkarna

Digital publishers weigh AI's promise against plagiarism concerns

Digital publishers discuss AI's role in mass content creation, stressing human oversight for text and image-based content.

Since ChatGPT took the digital space by a storm in 2021, artificial intelligence, as a concept, has been thrust into the forefront of our lives. It isn't uncommon to see AI creep into our social media feeds regularly one way or the other.

As a result, many AI tools for content creation, that is, text-to-image designing, have garnered considerable attention. While AI-generated content often breaks the internet, it also raises concerns about the potential displacement of human jobs. These concerns cast a shadow over the realm of AI tools.

Within the digital realm, the question arises: Do news publishers also see AI in a negative light? This pertinent question took centre stage at the recent DigiPub conference.

The discussion, titled ‘The opportunities offered by AI’, was moderated by Shubho Sengupta, head- marketing and communications, Karmayogi Bharat.

Deepak Ajwani, editor, The Economic Times Digital, and AVP, Times Internet, sees AI as an opportunity contingent on whether publishers believe in it and subsequently, train their workforces for it.

"There's content for the masses and then there's content for the classes. That's our agenda at ET. AI tools have the potential to help us cater to the needs of the masses at half the cost that traditional processes can ," he shares.

Kartik Malhotra, executive editor - business vertical, News9 Plus & News9 Live Stream (a news subscription-based OTT media service owned by TV9 group) asserts that AI tools offer the potential to accomplish specific tasks at a fraction of conventional costs.

TV9, for instance, employs AI anchors to read scripts generated by AI text tools. Moreover, AI tools aid in crafting social media posts from TV9's news reports.

Ajwani also believes that AI can be utilised to ensure that the operation of commodity content creation runs smoothly, enabling individuals to ascend the value chain and explore more ‘exotic’ content. Thus, AI tools, rather than displacing personnel, have the potential to liberate human resources. 

Prasanna Singh, director and group editor, Green Pursuits, underscores the manifold benefits AI tools confer upon smaller publishers that typically operate with lean teams.

He explains, "Finding talent is not an easy task for smaller publishers. AI, as it helps avoid the hassle of finding the right talent, is a very welcome addition. We are currently experimenting with Nvidia, which can help me reduce the costs that setting up a studio for video content will entail."

"We are also experimenting with image-generation tools. These can help us bypass certain limitations of our designers. Further, IPR is a huge issue these days and stock images can also be costly."

Given its diverse array of applications, the experts suggest that AI's development still holds untapped potential for digital publications.

Also Read: Why are Indian digital news publishers wary of Google's new A.I. search?

Malhotra points out that there is a necessity to regulate the interface of AI within the digital space. While it may offer valuable data to one publisher, it might be posing a plagiarism threat to another.

Due to this potential malice, The New York Times updated its terms of service (TOS) to prohibit AI companies from scraping its articles and images to train AI models. Other companies may also follow suit soon.

To counteract this plagiarism risk, Ajwani advocates the implementation of human guardrails around AI. He emphasises the importance of tempering AI's capabilities to safeguard originality. Thus, talent must be trained to keep vigil whenever interfacing with AI tools for content creation. 

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