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News Corp CEO Robert Thomson says AI ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’

News Corp CEO Robert Thomson blasted the left-wing bias and inaccuracies spewed out by AI generated content — calling it “rubbish in, rubbish out” — even as he warned the technology threatens to kill thousands more jobs across the news industry.

Left-leaning media giants that dominate the news business have churned out stories for years that are not only riddled with errors, but also written with a left-wing slant.

Yet bots like the popular ChatGPT search engine will regurgitate the claptrap as fact, according to Thomson.

“People have to understand that AI is essentially retrospective,” the media executive said during an appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia and Technology Conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

“It’s about permutations of pre-existing content.”

“The danger is, it’s rubbish in, rubbish out, rubbish all about,” said the CEO of News Corp — the parent of newspapers including The Post and The Wall Street Journal — adding: “Because it’s distributing — exponentially — potentially damaging content.”

“Don’t forget, it’s rubbish in, rubbish out, rubbish all about, particularly with AI,” Thomson told a tech conference in San Francisco on Thursday.
Getty Images for The Wall Street Journal

“And so instead of elevating and enhancing, what you might find is that you have this ever-
shrinking circle of sanity surrounded by a reservoir of rubbish,” he continued. “So instead of the insight that AI can potentially bring, what it will evolve into, essentially, is maggot-ridden mind mold.”

In February, ChatGPT, the bot created by Silicon Valley unicorn OpenAI, refused to write a story about Hunter Biden in the style of the New York Post — but did generate a CNN-like puff piece protective of the president’s embattled son.

“We’re clearly doing a lot of tracking of the use of AI and our content, and there are certain AI engines that are churning out content, apparent news, factual content, which is off the political spectrum, which would essentially make Marx and Lenin persona non grata — it’s that left-wing,” Thomson said.

“You’re also seeing the effects, sometimes pernicious, of the bias of the input-er,” he said. “These AI
engines are a combination of the input and the input-er. So, the idea that it’s some kind of
abstract black box that “I don’t know how on earth this stuff comes out.” That’s not an answer,
because basically, it’s untrue.”

Thomson also demanded that companies that are “training” generative artificial intelligence engines using “archived material” pay the publishers who employ the trusted sources creating the content.

“If you derive benefit from our content, we should derive a benefit or else you’re in danger of undermining the creation of that content,” Thomson said.

Thomson warned of a "damaging wave looming" for the news industry due to the dangers of AI.
Thomson warned of a “damaging wave looming” for the news industry due to the dangers of AI.

The rapid development of AI poses a significant threat to a news industry already decimated by the emergence of Big Tech giants like Google and Facebook, he said.

“When you look at the dramatic decline in newsroom employment in the US from 2008 to 2020 — it’s down around 57% or more, depending on how you calculate it,” Thomson noted.

“And that shows you that the first wave of digital disruption has been profound.”

With the advent of AI, Thomson added: “We’re in a position where there’s an even more damaging wave looming.”

The disruption to the bottom line has led several media companies, chief among them Barry Diller’s IAC, to form a coalition that is weighing legal action against AI tech companies in an effort to protect intellectual property.

Despite initial reports that News Corp would join the fight, Thomson confirmed there are no plans to go that route.

“What you’ll see over time is a lot of litigation,” Thomson said. “Some media companies have already begun those discussions.”

“Personally, we’re not interested in that at this stage. We’re much more interested in negotiation.”

He added: “We prefer to reward the journalists, not the lawyers, who are the inevitable beneficiaries.”

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