Do you know News Publishers Be Leery of Media Diet of the Bing Chatbot? Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, testified before a US congressional committee two years ago that his company and other computer firms were not paying media companies enough for the news material that powers search engines like Bing and Google.
He appeared in court with news executives and declared, “What we’re talking about here is considerably bigger than us.” “Let’s hope that journalism is still in existence a century from now, even if no one is using iPhones, laptops, or anything else that we have now. Because it is essential to our democracy. Microsoft is committed to continuing “healthy revenue-sharing” with news publishers, including licensing articles for Microsoft news apps, according to Smith, who also suggested that tech companies should take other steps.
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However, Microsoft last week started developing a new chatbot interface for Bing that could occasionally offer a means to get around paywalls on news websites by offering glitzy conversational answers based on media content. With Google and others developing chatbots, media businesses’ disputes with tech platforms over the placement of their content on search engines and social feeds might take on a new dimension.
Media Diet of the Bing Chatbot
The top three selections from The New York Times product review site Wirecutter, which is behind a metered paywall, were swiftly listed by the Bing chatbot in response to a question from WIRED about the finest dog beds, according to Wirecutter. One bed was described as being comfy, strong, simple to clean, and available in a range of sizes and colors.
Citations at the conclusion of the bot’s response acknowledged not just Wirecutter’s ratings but also a number of websites that seemed to be using the name of Wirecutter to get traffic and make money through affiliate links. The Times opted not to respond.
A Wall Street Journal editorial on, well, ChatGPT was also succinctly summarised by Bing’s bot, which was built using the same technology as OpenAI’s chatbot phenomenon ChatGPT, despite the fact that the newspaper’s material is often hidden behind a paywall. (The tool does not appear to have copied any of the columnist’s writing in its entirety.) News Corp, which owns the WSJ, declined to comment on Bing.
According to Microsoft’s director of communications Caitlin Roulston, “Bing only crawls content publishers make available to us.” According to her, the search engine has access to content behind a paywall from publishers who have contracts with Microsoft’s news service. The plan existed before Bing’s AI update this week.
The new Bing interface is based on technology from OpenAI, which developed text-generation capabilities by studying statistical word trends in books, forums, articles, and other web-scraped content.
Although it has leased photos from the stock image library Shutterstock to serve as training data for its work on producing images, OpenAI is not known to have paid for the rights to all of that content. When Microsoft’s bot summarises articles, it does not directly pay the authors, just as Microsoft and Google have never paid online publishers to have search results show excerpts from their pages. However, the talkative Bing interface offers more in-depth responses than previous search engines have.
The startup OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology, which it published in November, has been shown to copy or just marginally modify human writers’ work. ChatGPT use is prohibited in some sizable US public school systems, including New York City’s. Bing makes use of Prometheus, a Microsoft AI system that the company claims draws on OpenAI’s ChatGPT and is designed to provide users with safer and quicker search results.
Yusuf Mehdi, the company’s consumer chief marketing officer, responded that the company “cares a lot about being able to send traffic back to content creators” when questioned at Microsoft’s media event this week about the possibility that the new Bing search would copy human writers’ work. He explained that each response’s links from the Bing chatbot are there to “make it easy for folks to go in and click through to those sites.” Microsoft’s Roulston declined to say how many early testers clicked on those citation links to go to the information’s original source.
Publishers are currently debating whether to respond to Microsoft. The ally in Congress who supported them and gave them support in their battle against the search goliath In the battle to integrate chat technologies into search, Google is now in the lead.
There simply isn’t any money returning to news publishers unless there is a formal agreement in place. Danielle Coffey, executive vice president, and general counsel at News Media Alliance, a trade association of more than 2,000 print and online publications globally, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, argues that it is extremely troublesome for our sector. The consortium also includes Condé Nast, the parent company of WIRED.
Coffey describes the Bing chatbot’s attribution as “less than great for our taste” in the absence of any reward. She responds that there will be conversations on the subject when asked if members have thought about asking Bing to stop using their content in its new search experience.
Other news industry trade associations are also keeping a close eye on search chatbots. Paul Deegan, president, and chief executive officer of trade group News Media Canada, adds, “We are very worried about the role this breakthrough technology, which has the ability to do good, can play in the exponential expansion of disinformation. It is in the self-interest of Big Tech platforms to negotiate reasonable content licensing deals with news publishers since real journalism is expensive.
As required by European law, Google and Microsoft pay some publishers to make their content available in a variety of apps and services, including in some search results. While Google has been promoting a licensing system it calls News Showcase that feeds content to Google News and the company’s newsfeed app Discover, Microsoft’s MSN online site continues to be a significant driver of traffic and licensing sales for some publishers.
However, the new Bing chatbot experience and a Google bot dubbed Bard in development give far more than simply the links, quick summaries, and images that are typical on tech platforms. They are marketed as a means to employ AI to fully immerse consumers in a dialogue that can quickly and easily give them the information they need without ever having to leave the chat box. Publishers may no longer be able to make money from subscriptions, advertisements, and recommendations if online users spend more time interacting with bots and less time visiting links.
The Bing chatbot will occasionally provide a huge link to the source, complete with a thumbnail image, beneath its summary when summarising specific articles. This could make it simpler or more appealing for visitors to click.
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Coffey of the News Media Alliance expresses optimism that Microsoft will keep collaborating with publishers and recognize the importance of their work. With regard to payment, she asserts that there is still much to be decided. This is a new frontier where we believe there is room to reevaluate our existing alliances.
Uncertainty exists around the legality of using web-scavenged data to train AI systems or of algorithms feeding what they have learned to users. Last year, a group of unnamed software developers filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI, alleging that the companies had unfairly used the plaintiffs’ code to train the machine learning algorithms for GitHub Copilot, an AI system that writes code. Coffey claims that if search bots start to take the place of actual readers of stories, publishers may have a compelling case for copyright infringement.
The bot for Bing asserts that its current business strategy is successful. When questioned about paying content creators, the bot replies, “No, I do not pay for material.” I use the information from web searches to give you pertinent and helpful information.