A letter from the editor on generative AI and FT

Throughout its more than 130-year history, the Financial Times has been committed to the highest standards of journalism. As the editor of this newspaper, nothing is more important to me than the trust of our readers in the good journalism we produce. Quality means above all accuracy. It also means fairness and transparency.

That’s why today I’m sharing my current thoughts on using artificial intelligence in the newsroom.

Generative AI is the most important new technology since the dawn of the Internet. It is developing at breakneck speed and its applications, and its results, are still being seen. Generative AI models learn from a wide range of published sources, including books, publications, Wikipedia and social media, to predict the next possible word in a sentence.

This innovation is an important area for us to attend and I am determined to make the FT a valuable source of information and analysis on AI for years to come. But it also has obvious and practical implications for journalists and editors in the way we go about our daily work, and it can help us in our analysis and news coverage. It has the potential to increase productivity and free up the time of reporters and editors to focus on creating and reporting original content.

However, although they seem to be clear and logical, the AI ​​models in the market today are predictive engines and they are learning from the past. They can create facts – this is what is called “intelligence” – and create links and connections. If modified enough, AI models can create fake images and text. They also adopt preconceived notions, including historical biases.

It is my conviction that our mission to produce high-quality journalism is of utmost importance in this age of technological innovation. At a time when misinformation can be created and spread rapidly and trust in the mass media has declined, we at the FT have a strong responsibility to be proactive, report the facts and pursue the truth. That is why the FT’s journalism in the new generation of AI will continue to be reported and written by people who are the best in their fields and who are committed to reporting and analyzing the world as it is, accurately and fairly.

The FT is also a pioneer in the digital journalism business and our business partners will embrace AI to deliver services to readers and customers while maintaining our reputation for effective technology. Our newsroom should also be a place for innovation. It is important and necessary for the FT to have a team in the newsroom that can carefully experiment with AI tools to help journalists in tasks such as data mining, text and image analysis and translation. We will not publish AI-augmented images but we will explore the use of AI-augmented images (infographics, diagrams, photos) and when we do we will clearly explain to the readers. This does not apply to FT professional photos. The team will also consider, always with human supervision, the abstract AI skills.

We will be transparent, both within the FT and with our readers. All attempts of the newsroom will be recorded in the internal register, including, as far as possible, the use of third-party providers who may be using the tool. Training for our journalists on the use of AI output to find news will be provided through a number of sessions.

Each technology opens new exciting frontiers that must be properly explored. But as recent history has shown, the joy must be accompanied by caution about the danger of false information and the evil of the truth. The FT will remain committed to its core mission and will keep readers informed as AI itself and our views on it evolve.

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