Inserted AI-generated Microsoft poll about woman’s death rankles The Guardian

Key Takeaways:

– The Guardian accused Microsoft of damaging its reputation by publishing an AI-generated poll alongside one of its articles on the Microsoft Start website.
– The poll speculated on the cause of a woman’s death and triggered reader anger.
– Commenters criticized the poll as inappropriate and disgusting.
– The poll was removed, but critical comments remained visible for a time.
– The chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, Anna Bateson, voiced her concerns in a letter to Microsoft President Brad Smith.
– Bateson criticized Microsoft for using generative AI without the news publisher’s consent on a sensitive issue.
– The poll was potentially distressing for the deceased woman’s family and harmful to the reputation of the journalists who wrote the original article.
– Bateson emphasized the importance of a strong copyright framework for publishers to negotiate how their content is used by third-party platforms.
– The Guardian has a licensing agreement with Microsoft, allowing the tech company to publish the newspaper’s articles on Microsoft Start.
– Bateson requested that Microsoft commit to not using experimental AI technology alongside Guardian journalism without approval and to make it clear when AI tools are employed.
– Bateson also called on Microsoft to take responsibility for the poll by attaching a note to the original article.
– Microsoft has not yet commented on the matter.

Ars Technica:

On Tuesday, The Guardian accused Microsoft of damaging its journalistic reputation by publishing an AI-generated poll beside one of its articles on the Microsoft Start website. The poll, created by an AI model on Microsoft’s news platform, speculated on the cause of a woman’s death, reportedly triggering reader anger and leading to reputational concerns for the news organization.

“This has to be the most pathetic, disgusting poll I’ve ever seen,” wrote one commenter on the story. The comment section has since been disabled.

The poll appeared beside a republished Guardian story about Lilie James, a 21-year-old water polo coach who was found dead with head injuries in Sydney. The AI-generated poll presented readers with three choices to speculate on the cause of James’ death: murder, accident, or suicide. Following negative reactions, the poll was removed, but critical comments remained visible for a time before their removal.

Anna Bateson, the chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, voiced her concerns in a letter to Microsoft President Brad Smith. Bateson criticized Microsoft’s use of generative AI for creating a poll on a sensitive issue without the news publisher’s consent.

“This is clearly an inappropriate use of genAI [generative AI] by Microsoft on a potentially distressing public interest story, originally written and published by Guardian journalists,” she wrote in the letter.

She argued that the poll was not only potentially distressing for the deceased woman’s family but also harmful to the reputation of the journalists who wrote the original article, some of which had been angrily called out by name by commenters on the article. Bateson then emphasized the importance of a “strong copyright framework” for publishers to negotiate how their content is used by third-party platforms.

The Guardian has a licensing agreement with Microsoft that allows the tech company to publish the newspaper’s articles on Microsoft Start, which serves as a news aggregation website and app. Bateson has requested that Microsoft commit to not using experimental AI technology alongside Guardian journalism without approval and to make it clear when AI tools are employed for generating additional content.

Bateson also called on Microsoft to take responsibility for the poll by attaching a note to the original article. As of press time, Microsoft had not yet commented to The Guardian on the matter.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft’s automated AI-generated news content has caused controversy. In September, MSN published an AI-generated article that declared deceased former NBA player Brandon Hunter “useless at 42.” In August, MSN also published a list of can’t-miss tourist destinations in Ottawa that included a food bank.

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AI Eclipse TLDR:

The Guardian has accused Microsoft of damaging its journalistic reputation by publishing an AI-generated poll alongside one of its articles on the Microsoft Start website. The poll, created by an AI model on Microsoft’s news platform, speculated on the cause of a woman’s death, which triggered reader anger and raised concerns for the news organization’s reputation. The poll appeared alongside a republished Guardian story about a 21-year-old water polo coach who was found dead with head injuries in Sydney. The AI-generated poll presented readers with three choices to speculate on the cause of the coach’s death: murder, accident, or suicide. The poll was later removed due to negative reactions, but critical comments remained visible for a while. The chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, Anna Bateson, criticized Microsoft for using generative AI to create a poll on a sensitive issue without the news publisher’s consent. Bateson emphasized the need for a strong copyright framework for publishers to negotiate how their content is used by third-party platforms. The Guardian has a licensing agreement with Microsoft that allows the tech company to publish the newspaper’s articles on Microsoft Start, and Bateson has requested that Microsoft refrain from using experimental AI technology alongside Guardian journalism without approval and make it clear when AI tools are used to generate additional content. Microsoft has not yet commented on the matter. This incident is not the first time that Microsoft’s automated AI-generated news content has caused controversy. In the past, MSN published an AI-generated article that declared a deceased former NBA player as “useless at 42” and a list of can’t-miss tourist destinations in Ottawa that included a food bank.