Artificial intelligence will likely find a way to be relevant in every industry—whether its therapy, tourism or music. It’s also coming for the news business, and the consequences could be pretty serious, according to billionaire and media baron Barry Diller.
The cofounder of Fox TV Networks (along with Rupert Murdoch) and currently an executive at media holding company IAC, Diller thinks that if generative A.I. tools use content from the internet for its models, including the work of news publications, news outlets should take legal action.
“Companies can absolutely sue under copyright law,” Diller said at the Semafor Media Summit on Monday.
He pointed out how OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has so far used information on the internet up until 2021 to train its chatbot. But Diller warned that when the company eventually gets up to speed with real-time data, it could pose a real threat if not done the right way.
“What you have to do is get the [media] industry to say ‘you cannot scrape our content’ until you work out systems where the publisher gets some avenue towards payment,” Diller said. “If you take those systems and you do not connect them to a process where you cannot do this until — the path towards some way of getting compensated for it, all will be lost.”
Barry Diller on what AI means for publishers: “If you take those systems and you do not connect them to a process where you cannot do this until — the path towards some way of getting compensated for it, all will be lost.” pic.twitter.com/w4Y0V7xgw2
— Semafor (@semafor) April 10, 2023
Diller’s IAC controls a number of media assets including Dotdash Meredith which owns InStyle, Investopedia and more. A few of the magazines under the larger company, such as Entertainment Weekly, were forced to stop print publications to keep up with the digital era. The media mogul has an estimated net worth of $3.8 billion, according to Forbes.
A.I. has shown an incredible ability to complete intellectual tasks, leading some to speculate that it could disrupt the white collar labor market in the future. Several newsrooms have begun using A.I. to expand their range of content and make it more accessible to users. While it has started to transform how the fourth estate works, it has not come without its concerns, including its ability to quickly create fabricated news stories and spread inaccurate information.
Diller advised that publications should act fast by pursuing litigation to make sure A.I. doesn’t “cannibalize” its business. The only other alternative, according to the executive, is the news industry coming together and stopping A.I. from using its content altogether.
“The point is that unless publishers get immediately active and absolutely institute litigation, but also have a mass position of saying, ‘We are not going to let what happened out of free internet happen to post-A.I. internet if we can help it,’” Dill said, adding that he himself has come “very, very close” to taking action against A.I. tools for “fair use,” which allows copyrighted material to be used only under certain conditions.
“The amount of destruction that took place at the beginning when it was declared a free medium was enormous,” Diller added.
OpenAI declined to comment, and IAC did not immediately return Fortune’s request for comment.
A.I. and the Media
Changes to the media landscape because of A.I. are already in motion.
Last month, CEO of German media giant Axel Springer, Mathias Döpfner, said that a large number of employees would be laid off as A.I. could shape the company’s way ahead, according to an employee memo. He laid out some of the functions A.I. could do in the newsroom, including compiling information to write breaking news.
“Artificial intelligence has the potential to make independent journalism better than it ever was—or simply replace it,” he wrote, the Guardian reported. And to his point, people have capitalized on the opportunity generative A.I. tools have presented—people are writing entire novels with the help of ChatGPT-like tools.
While Döpfner said he didn’t believe all journalists would lose their jobs due to A.I., he did see potential for this technology to be competent at the less-creative aspects of the job.
BuzzFeed, a digital media company, launched A.I.-powered quizzes in February which would let users craft personalized break-up messages and movie scripts after answering a few simple questions. The move was among the first in the media industry to embrace generative A.I. tools.
The widespread use of A.I. has also led to worry about the misuse of information, particularly in the media and entertainment space. For instance, Clarkesworld, a well-known science fiction magazine, said in February that it would stop taking submissions after A.I.-made stories began flooding its platform in large numbers.
So far, there are no known cases of someone suing ChatGPT or other A.I. chatbots. But last week, an Australian mayor said he was considering suing OpenAI after ChatGPT falsely said he spent time in prison for a bribery case when in fact, he was the whistleblower in the case.