Journalists “deeply concerned” about OpenAI’s content deals with Vox and The Atlantic

On Wednesday, Axios broke the news that OpenAI had signed deals with The Atlantic and Vox Media that will allow the ChatGPT maker to license its editorial content to further train its language models. But some of the publications’ editors (and the unions that represent them) were surprised by the ads and are not happy about it. Two unions have already issued statements expressing “alarm” and “concern.”

“Union members of The Atlantic’s Editorial and Business & Technology units are deeply concerned about the opaque agreement The Atlantic has signed with OpenAI,” read a statement from the Atlantic union. “And especially because of the complete lack of transparency from management about what the deal entails and how it will affect our work.”

The Vox Union, which represents The Verge, SB Nation and Vulture, among other publications, reacted similarly, writing in a statement: “Today, members of the Vox Media Union… were informed without prior notice that Vox Media entered into a ‘strategic content and product partnership’ with OpenAI As journalists and workers, we have serious concerns about this partnership, which we believe could negatively impact our union members, not to mention the well-documented ethical and environmental concerns surrounding its use of generative AI.

OpenAI previously admitted to using copyrighted information scraped from publications like those that just signed licensing deals to train AI models like GPT-4, which powers its ChatGPT AI assistant. While the company maintains that the practice is fair use, it has simultaneously licensed training content from publishing groups like Axel Springer and social media sites like Reddit and Stack Overflow, prompting protests from users of those platforms.

As part of multi-year agreements with The Atlantic and Vox, OpenAI will be able to openly and officially use archived publisher materials (dating back to 1857 in the case of The Atlantic) as well as current articles to train responses generated by ChatGPT and Other AI language models. In exchange, publishers will receive undisclosed sums of money and will be able to use OpenAI technology “to power new journalism products,” according to Axios.

Reporters react

The news of the agreements took both journalists and unions by surprise. Over at I have very Our editor in chief has given me strong written assurances that he wants more coverage like the last two weeks and that he will never interfere with it. If that is false, I will resign.

Journalists also reacted to news about the agreements through the publications themselves. On Wednesday, The Atlantic senior editor Damon Beres wrote an article titled “A Devil’s Deal with OpenAI,” in which he expressed skepticism about the partnership, likening it to making a deal with the devil that may backfire. He highlighted concerns about AI’s use of copyrighted material without permission and its potential to spread disinformation at a time when publications have suffered a recent spate of layoffs. He drew parallels with finding audiences on social media, which led to clickbait and SEO tactics that degraded media quality. While acknowledging the financial benefits and potential reach, Beres warned against relying on opaque and inaccurate AI models and questioned the implications of journalism companies being complicit in the potential destruction of the Internet as we know it, even as they try to be part of the solution by partnering. with OpenAI.

Similarly, at Vox, editorial director Bryan Walsh wrote an article titled “This article is OpenAI training data,” in which he expresses apprehension about the licensing deal, drawing parallels between the companies’ relentless pursuit of data. AI companies and classical AI thinking. Bostrom’s “clip maximizer” experiment, warning that the single-minded focus on market share and profits could ultimately destroy the ecosystem that AI companies rely on for training data. He is concerned that the growth of AI chatbots and generative AI search products could lead to a significant decline in search engine traffic to publishers, potentially threatening content creators’ livelihoods and wealth. from Internet.

Meanwhile, OpenAI continues to fight for “fair use”

Not all publications are eager to step up to the plate with OpenAI. The San Francisco-based company is currently in the middle of a lawsuit with The New York Times in which OpenAI claims that mining publication data for AI training purposes is fair use. The New York Times has tried to stop AI companies from doing this type of scraping by updating its terms of service to prohibit AI training, arguing in its lawsuit that ChatGPT could easily become a substitute for the NYT.

The Times accused OpenAI of copying millions of its works to train AI models and found 100 examples of ChatGPT regurgitating articles. In response, OpenAI accused the NYT of “hacking” ChatGPT with misleading messages simply to start a lawsuit. NYT lawyer Ian Crosby previously told Ars that OpenAI’s decision “to enter into agreements with news publishers only confirms that they know their unauthorized use of copyrighted works is far from ‘fair'” .

Although that issue has not yet been resolved in court, for now The Atlantic Union seeks transparency.

“The Atlantic has championed the values ​​of transparency and intellectual honesty for more than 160 years. Its legacy is built on integrity, derived from the work of its writers, editors, producers and business staff,” he wrote. “OpenAI, on the other hand, has used news articles to train AI technologies like ChatGPT without permission. The people who continue to maintain and serve The Atlantic deserve to know what exactly the administration has licensed to an outside company and how, specifically, they plan to use the archive of our creative output and the product of our work.”

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