AI is inevitably going to infiltrate all our lives in some way or another in the near future; learning how we shop, communicate, write, create and plan our lives. We therefore also need to look at adapting our ways of working to benefit from these technological advancements. Working alongside this adaptive new tech, and generating new guidance and principles, will enable us to harness and nurture it. We can create preventative methods to stop bad actors abusing and infiltrating the systems we have in place to educate and teach.
At the NEC Annual Publishing Conference (7 November 2023, London), the keynote was delivered by David Smith from the IET who looked “Back to the Future!”; highlighting the importance of an article published by Darcy DiNucci. Fragmented Futures (published in print, 53.4, 1999) demonstrates technological growth and that the Web she wrote about was only the beginning…how things have changed in 20 years! Essentially it is thought we are at a similar point with AI; it is new, raw and ready to be refined and developed.
Leslie Lansmann, Global Permissions Manager from Springer Nature, discussed how Large Language Models (LLM) such as ChatGPT are ingesting content, and this is not yet fully disclosed by AI companies. This is important to monitor as we must maintain the stewardship for the content and protect copyright and protected manuscripts. As much as AI is currently learning – it probes and reiterates content – it does not understand the deeper context behind the language. The publishing industry is however having to react to the developments in technologies, many publishers are imposing bans on AI content, and introducing new and different policies.
The discussion around authorship is constantly developing and debated – should research be done using AI? Can it help an author whose first language isn’t English produce a more succinct piece of work? If the data is accurate and the same research principles are adhered to, maybe we should move towards incorporating it into our practices. This notion was delivered by Anastasia Toynbee from the Royal Society of Chemistry who was looking at the problem of non-native English speakers and how these tools could help. The key feature of this was that a problem had been highlighted and AI was being used to support it – not the other way around.
It became clear from all the speakers how important it is to identify the problem initially and use AI tech/tools to help with it, rather than decide how to harness and squeeze new systems into processes that are working well. Ian Mulvany at BMJ really brought home this idea that we as an industry need to balance risk vs opportunity. AI has perception, however no intention to act; therefore we are in a position through governance, policy, and stewardship that we can lead AI to improve processes and not be reactive and in fear of the unknown! Andy Halliday , Product Manager at F100 iterated the benefits and pitfalls of AI and how humans can help harness this tech and enable it to support our ecosystem and develop a sense of AI preparedness.
We are in the awakening of AI. The box has been opened and we all have access to create new and exciting content, images and access information much easier than ever before. As the discussions continue it will be really exciting to see how developments are made, what fixes it can be used for, and how policy and guidance are updated to meet the demands of users.