LONDON: Artificial intelligence had the potential to play a pivotal role in strengthening the connection between media outlets and their readers, an industry leader told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In a speech at the annual gathering in the Swiss town, Almar Latour, CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, told delegates that he was optimistic about the integration of AI in the media landscape.

He said: “I think it will proliferate and deepen the connection that we have with the public at large at a time when trust is really low.”

Latour pointed out that automated processes already generated a substantial portion of headlines and simpler news stories at Dow Jones, and that contrary to concerns about job displacement in journalism, AI had enabled reporters to redirect their focus toward more investigative work.

The forum heard that many publishing companies were now embracing the technology, introducing AI-driven features not only to enhance the user experience but also streamline workflows for employees.

In December, German publisher Axel Springer announced it was shutting down news outlet Upday as part of a plan to revive the brand as a “trend news generator” driven by AI.

And last year, London-based Arabic newspaper Elaph made headlines by introducing an AI anchor, positioning itself as one of the pioneers in adopting the technology in the journalism domain.

During a panel discussion titled “Gen AI: Boon or Bane for Creativity?,” Latour highlighted the strategic plans of Dow Jones to introduce a range of AI services across its platform.

He noted that the generative AI products were driven by customer demand, showing the company’s commitment to meeting specific business needs.

“We’re responding to a specific need that we see in a business,” he added.

Latour also explained the company’s vision for leveraging a subscription-based model, enabling readers to harness the power of AI to extract deeper insights, receive summarized content, and visualize information in innovative ways.

In addition, panel discussions focused on the challenges surrounding intellectual property and regulation.

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan noted the urgency of “identifying what’s machine generated versus human” while also addressing the concept of “attribution” and artist ownership.

He called for industry collaboration and mediation as essential tools to navigate potential copyright disputes.

On The New York Times’ lawsuit against OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, Latour pointed out the media industry’s preference for commercial solutions over resorting to legal proceedings.

He said: “We want to be partners in developing new products. To unleash creativity, improve quality journalism, and spread reliable information, we have to work with cutting-edge players.”

He added that going it alone in the media sector would be slower and less effective.

“Ultimately this is about value. Information has value and high-quality information has high value. We cannot forget that,” Latour said.

OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, addressed the issue on a separate panel on Thursday.

He said he was pleased with the content licensing deals that OpenAI had inked with major publishers, such as AP and Axel Springer, and he took a jab at The New York Times for its legal action against his company for alleged copyright infringement.

Altman noted that as AI continued to reshape industries, it inevitably raised ethical and trust issues. Despite the progress made in the field, he accepted that several questions regarding its societal impact still needed to be answered through “global coordination.”

He added: “I think it’s good that people are afraid of the downsides of this technology. I think it’s good that we’re talking about it, and I think it’s good that we and others are being held to a high standard.”

AI has been one of the key themes of this year’s edition of the WEF, with discussion on the topic having transcended the broad strokes of the previous year, moving toward a more sector-specific focus on AI.

The Middle East, and specifically the Gulf, has been at the center of the conversation with the region looking to capitalize on the transformative power of AI.

As governments and businesses in the Middle East and North Africa region increasingly invest in AI-driven technologies, the sector has become a catalyst for economic growth and diversification.

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