For years, screenplays have featured computers diligently outsmarting their human programmers. What may have seemed like far-fetched science fiction before has become a potential threat today. Advanced computers have beaten world chess champions and in less than five decades, we have witnessed comic strip character Dick Tracy’s futuristic wrist radio become a reality with billions of people relying on their smart phones and watches.
For good or bad, artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere today. Financial analysts even predict it will soon displace millions of workers. So, curious about my own job, I decided to experiment with a free online word generator at Gamma.app. After learning the simple commands, I submitted a request for a 600-word column focused on the ethics of using AI to write an opinion piece. This is what it produced in less than a minute:
As technology advances at an unprecedented pace, it is becoming easier for AI to produce news articles and opinion pieces. While there are significant advantages to this, there are also ethical concerns that need to be addressed.
One of the biggest advantages of AI-generated pieces is their speed. They can produce articles in seconds. Additionally, they don’t suffer from writer’s block, fatigue, or other inherent human issues. The downside of text-producing AI is that it may just produce lukewarm, neutral, or banal texts that nobody wants to read, while removing the positive and negative extremes that help us form opinions.
Additionally, it is difficult to ensure that the AI was programmed ethically, that it’s not spreading false or biased messages, and that it’s transparent and accountable.
The introduction of AI in any aspect of life comes with inevitable consequences, both positive and negative. Predicting the impact of AI-generated articles on journalism and media is not a straightforward task, but it is necessary to consider how this may change the way we perceive news and information.
One possible effect is a reduction in the number of journalists and writers needed, leading to a loss of jobs. However, it may also lead to an increase in profits for media companies, as they may be able to publish more content and reach a larger audience.
Although AI can provide speed and efficiency, it is only one part of the equation to writing and publishing opinion pieces. The human element remains a key part of the process, especially when it comes to editorial oversight and quality control.
Human editors have a responsibility to ensure that the opinions expressed align with the values and ethics of their organizations. Editors must also make sure that the articles are unbiased, factual, and informative. They can use AI as a tool to assist them in their work, but the final product should still have human input and oversight.
Some possible solutions to ethical questions raised by AI-generated articles include increased transparency, accountability, regulation, and ethical guidelines for AI-based journalism.
AI should be utilized to make the writing process faster and more efficient, not to replace human writers. We still need humans to express the vulnerabilities and emotions that make articles compelling to read.
For me, this experiment clearly demonstrates that AI may indeed become an integral part of journalism in the future.
Even the program admitted that despite its benefits, “AI needs a human touch to achieve empathetic, engaging, and thought-provoking content. It is human writers who can make pithy comments, include humor, sarcasm, or any of a hundred emotive contexts that are part of any effective article.”