AI buffet puts usable technology on the menu

Jul 03, 2024 at 01:13 pm by admin

Stopping talking about AI, and starting doing something about it has been a successful strategy for Swedish publisher Aftonbladet.

In an INMA ideas blog, deputy managing editor Martin Schori tells how an AI hub comprised of four journalists, one UX designer and two software developers was created to explore the technology’s potential.

“Founded in 1830 and with a daily reach of more than four million unique visitors – out of a population of ten million – Aftonbladet has always strived to be at the forefront of technology,” he says. “For example, when we realised that the iPhone was going to be the next big thing in 2007, we ordered and handed out devices to all our employees.

“Similarly, when the Artificial Intelligence boom started in late 2022, we quickly realised our desire to explore this new technology – and that we needed everyone at Aftonbladet on board.”

He said ideas on what to do were plentiful, but resources were scarce, “and the pace at which technology evolved was astonishing. We soon acknowledged that to see tangible results, an entity above the standard organisational structure was necessary. Thus, the concept of an AI hub was born.”

Last October, after offering every Aftonbladet employee the chance to apply, the hub was launched with seven employees – four journalists, one UX designer, and two software developers – who were disconnected from their ordinary jobs and worked full time to “identify, experiment with, and implement AI solutions at Aftonbladet to enhance and enliven our work processes; ensure Aftonbladet’s use of AI is responsible and transparent; and educate the entire Aftonbladet organisation about AI, as the responsibility shouldn’t fall on just these seven individuals”.

Schori says five months in, there have been magnificent results. Among examples are an ‘AI Buffet’ – launched with tools developed in-house and custom GPTs – which includes a ‘Buddy reader’ that proofreads and gives feedback on sentence structure, finds repetitions, and finds weaknesses in reasoning; and a ‘Youth Assistant’ tool that creates fact boxes and timelines with instructions that young people should understand. Everyone has been educated in their ‘how to become a prompt queen”, and there have been several other workshops and courses. A first chatbot is being developed.

“Since launching the hub, we have learned several things:

- even when developed tools offer clear advantages, their adoption within the newsroom requires persuasion;

-initiating an AI hub was a positive step, but business leaders need to wholeheartedly adopt AI and spearhead this transformation;

-AI is not an end, and we need personalisation – requiring more content, despite not increasing our editorial staff – to stay relevant, and also need to cut costs and discover new revenue streams.

“Here, AI can undoubtedly assist. But perhaps the focus should shift from the technology itself to the objectives it helps us attain,” he says.

Pictured: Martin Schori (left) with members of the AI hub


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