Public’s top concern with AI: potential to spread misinformation

Public’s top concern with AI: potential to spread misinformation

The spread of misinformation and fake news is the public’s main concern with AI technology.

That is according to separate findings from the News Media Association (NMA) and Newsworks, released as global leaders are gathering at Bletchley Park today for the inaugural AI safety summit.

According to a nationally representative Newsworks survey, the spread of misinformation and fake news was the top concern with AI (67%), ahead of AI’s lack of human creativity and judgement (63%) and the potential loss of jobs (61%).

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll of news editors and MPs conducted in partnership with the NMA found that three quarters of MPs agree that trusted journalism created by news publishers is “critical in minimising the risk of misinformation” ahead of next year’s general election. Labour MPs (85%) were more likely to agree than Conservative MPs (69%).

Nearly all (97%) of the newsbrand editors surveyed by the NMA agreed that the risk to the public from AI-generated misinformation is “greater than ever before.” 60% of MPs agreed with the same statement.

“At a time when AI can rapidly fuel the spread of fake news, trusted journalism has never been more important,” said Conservative Media Minister Sir John Whittingdale. “We are in ongoing discussions with news industry leaders on the steps we can take to protect journalism from the risks of AI while harnessing its benefits, and through the UK’s AI Safety Summit we are working to encourage global cooperation on the responsible use of this powerful technology.”

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The public overwhelmingly says it values content produced by humans, with 72% of respondents to Newsworks’ survey saying they would prefer reading content solely created by humans.

However, a large majority (74%) of respondents also said they were unsure if they could identify AI-generated content, implying the need for regulation around clearly declaring when and how AI was used to create online content.

86% of respondents said they favoured having guidelines or regulations in place for AI-generated content on the web; a comparable number said online content that is wholly or partly generated by AI should be clearly highlighted.

“AI is the next exciting era but it is clear that we must tread with caution,” said Newsworks CEO Jo Allan. “The insights from our study show that the craft of journalist, and newsbrands in general, should play an even bigger and more important role in our democratic society than ever before.”

NMA CEO Owen Meredith, who has previously expressed concerns about how AI companies are infringing upon publishers’ IP, added that “robust IP rights are fundamental to sustained investment in journalism and tools must be developed to ensure that publishers can fully protect their content from being exploited by AI companies who rely on journalist works to train their systems.”

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