AI: Microsoft uses robot to write news for startup – 02/06/2024 – Tech

AI: Microsoft uses robot to write news for startup – 02/06/2024 – Tech

Microsoft is working with media startup Semafor to have its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot help develop news — part of a journalism effort that comes as the tech giant faces a multibillion-dollar lawsuit from The New York Times.

As part of the deal, Microsoft is paying an undisclosed amount to Semafor to sponsor a breaking news feed called “Signals.” The companies did not share financial details, but the amount of money is “substantial” to Semafor’s business, a person familiar with the matter said.

Signals will offer an urgent news feed and analysis on big stories, with about a dozen posts per day. The aim is to offer different points of view from around the world, which has been a goal for Semafor since its launch in 2022.

Ben Smith, co-founder of the media startup, said Signals will be written entirely by journalists, with artificial intelligence providing a research tool to inform posts.

Microsoft was also poised to announce collaborations with news organizations, including the Craig Newmark School of Journalism, the Online News Association and Project GroundTruth.

The partnerships come as media companies are increasingly concerned about generative AI and its potential threat to their businesses. News publishers are grappling with how to use AI to improve their work and stay ahead of technology, while also fearing losing traffic, and therefore revenue, to AI chatbots — which can generate text and information similar to humans in seconds.

In December, the New York Times filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, alleging that the technology companies “freely” took advantage of millions of its articles to build their artificial intelligence chatbots and seek billions of dollars. in compensation.

Gina Chua, executive editor at Semafor, was involved in the development of Semafor’s AI search tools, which are powered by Microsoft’s ChatGPT and Bing.

“Journalism has always used technology, whether it’s carrier pigeon, telegraph or whatever… this represents a real opportunity, a set of tools that are really a considerable leap above many of the other tools that have come along,” Chua said.

For a breaking news event, Semafor journalists will use AI tools to quickly search for reports and commentary from other news sources around the world, in multiple languages. A Signals post could include information from Chinese, Indian or Russian media, for example, with Semafor reporters summarizing and contextualizing different points of view, citing their sources.

Noreen Gillespie, a former Associated Press journalist, joined Microsoft three months ago to establish relationships with media companies. “Journalists need to embrace these tools to survive and thrive for another generation,” she said.

Semafor was founded by Ben Smith, former editor of the website BuzzFeed, and Justin Smith, former CEO of news agency Bloomberg Media.

Semafor, which is free to read, is funded by billionaires, including 3G Capital founder Jorge Paulo Lemann and KKR co-founder Henry Kravis. The company made more than $10 million in revenue in 2023 and has more than 500,000 subscriptions to its free newsletters. Justin Smith said Semafor was “very close to a profit” in the fourth quarter of 2023.

“We’re trying to address this really weird space of breaking news on the internet right now, where you have these really piecemeal, piecemeal, rushed efforts to get the first sentence of a story out to the search engines… and then they never actually do it. no effort to provide context,” said Ben Smith.

“We’re trying to go in the opposite direction. Here are the confirmed facts. Here are three or four really sophisticated and meaningful analyses.”

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