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Grappling with AI

  • 15 February 2023
The AI revolution has begun. Most of the discussion about AI so far has been about the impact of AI on the education sector. As schools go back, teachers across Australia will be wondering how classroom teaching and assessment will need adjust to a world where students can now generate essays that will pass any cheating filter at just the click of a button.

However, other sectors are also beginning to grapple with the issues around AI, especially publishing.

We’ve already seen some organisations turn basic writing and even columnist functions over to AI bots – which are quicker, and of course far less costly, to work with.

Other journalists are looking at how AI might help their work. An AI might not be able to replace some critical human elements of finding unique points of view and discerning where the heart of a story lies, or crafting an engaging and interesting piece of writing, but it can help take away some of the more labour-intensive work of writing a first draft where a writer is trying to get information on the page in a readable way.

There are questions around the use of AI to generate articles, particularly whether readers should be made aware if a piece is written by an AI. But if AI is used to supplement human ingenuity, rather than replace it, there’s an argument that it’s just an extension of spelling and grammar checks, not so different to Microsoft’s addition of ‘Clippy’ so many years ago.

AI image generation is more complex, and that’s something I’ve been wrestling with recently. AI image generators have the ability to generate beautiful and distinctive works of art, on whatever topic you might imagine, in minutes. There are certainly issues with their use to generate pornographic images, which I won’t go into here, but there are other issues that we publishers will need to come to terms with before we can start to adopt them for our own platforms. 


'It may be that AI image generation, like AI writing applications, will become just another tool in the box for creatives, a way to imagine possibilities that can be then enhanced and shaped by their own human skills and wisdom.'   

There’s little doubt that an AI image generation tool might be useful for a small publisher. Jesuit Communications (publishers of Eureka Street) has paid subscriptions to a number of stock image libraries, which we draw on to provide images for