Australians distrust use of AI in news content

Australians distrust news articles that have been written by generative artificial intelligence even as media companies increasingly turn to the emerging technology.

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology first burst into the Australian consciousness about late 2022, when Silicon Valley organisation OpenAI released its chatbot ChatGPT and the second iteration of its text-to-image generator DALL-E.

The federal government’s latest Television and Media Survey of about 5000 Australians during late 2023, found 61 per cent were aware of generative AI and about half had used the technology.

However, there was a strong negative sentiment towards its use in news content.

Nearly four in five respondents who knew about the technology said their trust in a news story would be negatively impacted if they found out it had been written in full by generative AI.

Even if a story had only been written with assistance from artificial intelligence, more than half of these Australians say their trust would still be negatively impacted.

The biggest source of concern was their belief that AI models use data from unverified or untrustworthy sources, followed by worries about integrity and the understanding that humans can bring ethics and accountability to the news.

About 95 per cent of respondents aware of the technology believed people should be made aware of how much news they consume is created by generative AI.

This comes after Channel Nine apologised to a Victorian MP after it published a digitally altered image in January that depicted her with enlarged breasts and a more revealing outfit.

The changes were the result of Adobe Photoshop’s “generative expand” tool, which uses AI to fill in areas as it un-crops photos, Nine News said.

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said in November that the global company – one of Australia’s biggest news operators – was “working to make the most of our premium content for AI and are engaged in advanced discussions that we expect to bring significant revenue”.

However, he has previously noted it poses a risk of “fatally undermining journalism and damaging our societies”.

According to a spokesperson, News Corp Australia has recently introduced a clause about AI in its code of conduct, which says content from AI technology “cannot be published on any platform including social media without being first reviewed and approved by an editor or relevant editorial manager”.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the survey allows the government to ensure “its approach to media reform is grounded in evidence of how everyday Australians are engaging with media services and content”.

In February, the federal government appointed 12 experts to an artificial intelligence group to identify risks and develop restrictions around the technology, but it has yet to introduce rules around its use.


Kat Wong
(Australian Associated Press)


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