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New York Times vs OpenAI: Training or Copyright Infringement?

By Lauren Ritirato, Staff Writer

Artificial Intelligence (AI)  has taken the world by storm. In less than a year, AI has been incorporated into mainstream user applications such as Microsoft CoPilot, Meta AI features and Snapchat AI, and is now even used in simple Google searches. Generative AI is a form of this technology that generates data and outputs after being prompted by a user.

The New York Times is currently suing OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, which is a generative AI platform, for using their articles to “train” ChatGPT and develop its knowledge base. OpenAI has claimed innocence. 

Post students are uncertain about the future of technology as the popularity and usage of AI continue to skyrocket.

 “AI, with a lot of things being done with it today, I feel like it’s still very new that we are just dipping our toes into the water in a way where it’s like we are just starting to see how it’s going to affect things,” freshman education major Elizabeth Salvemini said. “It feels like the future is going to have a lot of AI in it. We don’t really know where it’s going to head.”

Junior music technology, entrepreneurship and production major Michael Langley echoed these sentiments.

“The fact that within the span of a year and a half, which is really as long as any of these has been around, we have seen people being like ‘wow this can create really high quality images’ to now it can do really anything – now we have very high-quality images, also we have the AI song covers which just recreate people’s voices almost exactly and it’s kind of terrifying,” Langley said. “Who knows where else it can go.”

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law held a hearing on increasing transparency around AI, which was in response to uproar from news executives who are pushing for regulation to be implemented that holds AI companies accountable for using content from news platforms. There is growing pressure on lawmakers to impose regulatory fees for AI companies that use knowledge from published sources.

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Salvemini expressed her disappointment in analyzing the social impact of AI on beauty standards yet again being made more unattainable on the internet. While AI can use text to respond to prompts, it can also create images. Specifically, it can create realistic portraits of human faces.

“I do notice how in particular, in terms of Instagram where there’s AI models and art that are supposed to be really realistic, it’s affecting how women and girls perceive themselves and it’s really horrible,” Salvemini said. “Now we have this whole thing with AI where we used to have celebrities and how they look and women and girls were seeing that and now we have this whole other thing with AI where it’s not even real so women can’t even go up to these standards, it’s unfair.” 

While no decision has been reached on the New York Times vs. OpenAI case, this current lawsuit dares to shed light on the question of copyright infringement and the limits of accrediting sources for Artificial Intelligence. However, Langley believes that this debate narrows down to a philosophical question with no firm answer. 

“I feel like the question of whether AI is stealing art comes down to an overly philosophical question of, ‘Well, what is actually considered creativity?’ The AI is meant to be creative and generate new art, but it does that by looking at existing art and creating its interpretation,” Langley said. “But is that not what we as humans do with everything that we do and observe in the world?”

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