The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in 2023 sparked both excitement and fear in the United States and around the world. Many marvel at new software systems’ capabilities to interact with and respond to human inputs to generate content. June stories reported that The Beatles were able to complete a final song with an AI regeneration of the late John Lennon’s voice, AI is being used to aid in the evacuation of crowds on flooded beaches, and scientists are even using the technology in cancer research.
But AI’s increased prevalence and power also raises concerns. Calls for regulation have grown as academic circles began attempting to detect and limit the use of AI chatbot ChatGPT in student work, concerns about deepfakes – a form of AI manipulation that can place a person into any scenario and replicate their voice patterns – have increased, and some warn that AI can grow more powerful than its human creators – perhaps even leading to human extinction.
American Response to AI
American coverage of AI focuses widely on its negative aspects and on the Federal Government’s responses to the rise of the technology, but some platforms have included positive stories. With dangerous possibilities widely publicized, government regulation of AI technology became a common theme on both sides of the American political spectrum. A headline from The Boston Globe (Left bias) asked “How can humans maintain control over AI – forever?” and a headline from Fox News (Opinion) (Right bias) emphasized the importance of regulation, reading, “Three ways to regulate AI right now before it’s too late”.
While the US seems to have reached a general consensus about the need for AI regulation – albeit without consensus about how to regulate the technology – some other nations and regions view AI differently. AllSides looked at outlets from Great Britain, India, France, and Africa and found not just news about the dangers of AI and calls for regulation, but also various references to AI’s potential to improve the world.
International Representations: Great Britain
British outlets across the spectrum represented both positive and negative aspects of artificial intelligence. Many top stories presented the risks of AI, but outlets did not hesitate to mention AI successes. Britain seems to acknowledge AI’s positive work while remaining keenly aware of its dangers: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hopes to make his nation “not just the intellectual home, but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation,” reasoning, "The possibilities (of AI) are extraordinary. But we must – and we will – do it safely."
A headline from The Telegraph (Lean Right bias) reported, “Majority of readers believe artificial intelligence is developing too fast”. Surrounding that article, The Telegraph ran “Boost for Sunak as tech chief hails Britain’s AI potential”, “AI could herald a new era of scientific discovery for Britain”, and “We have put the world in danger with artificial intelligence, admits ChatGPT creator”. The outlet’s portrayal of AI aligns with two national sentiments: its readers fear of AI’s hasty development and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s hope to make Britain a hub for AI regulation and usage.
The outlet seems to be juggling multiple sides of the AI debate. It acknowledges AI’s technological and scientific potential but also the widely accepted need for regulation. Although the outlet’s Lean Right bias may account for a more positive representation of Prime Minister Sunak, its simultaneous portrayal of AI dangers, risks, and potential contextualizes sides of the artificial intelligence debate that Sunak addresses. In representing positive and negative aspects of AI, its pressing dangers, and new plans for regulation, The Telegraph provides readers with an overall balanced view of artificial intelligence, even if its coverage comes with a pro-Sunak bias.
While The Telegraph’s article selection represents various views concerning risks and rewards of AI, other outlets were more critical in the majority of their pieces. The Guardian (Lean Left bias) acknowledged certain benefits of AI with its article headlined, “British film board turns to AI to help spot bad language, sex, and violence,” but its other headlines included, “Discrimination is a bigger AI risk than human extinction - EU Commissioner”, “The big idea: Will AI make us stupid?”, and “Robot surgeons provide many benefits, but how autonomous should they be?” Each article provides a negative assessment of the technology or represents its dangers or limitations.
The Guardian also represented Sunak’s AI policy in a more negative light, in line with its overall negative portrayal of AI itself. Headlines included “Rishi Sunak races to tighten rules for AI amid fears of existential risk” and, in an “Explainer,” “Rishi Sunak’s AI summit: what is its aim, and is it really necessary?”. The Guardian portrays Sunak as unprepared as he “races” to account for AI risks, and it questions if his plans and policies are necessary. While the outlet’s lean-left bias may account for its willingness to criticize Sunak, its coverage indicates an overall anti-AI bias.
BBC (Center bias) represented AI in a somewhat negative manner, only positively reporting on The Beatles’s recording, but otherwise providing headlines like “The workers already replaced by AI” and “Artificial intelligence could lead to extinction, experts warn”. However, unlike The Telegraph which portrayed Sunak positively amid more balanced AI content or The Guardian which portrayed Sunak more negatively amid negative AI content, BBC scarcely covered Sunak’s AI plans, perhaps raising concerns about bias by omission. Leaving out a seemingly significant priority of the government may signal a disregard for its importance or for the administration’s goals.
International Representations: India
Outside of the US’s regulation debates and the United Kingdom’s upcoming safety, regulation, and usage summit, other countries view AI more positively – as a tool. In a collection of articles from two Indian outlets, The Indian Express (not rated by AllSides) and The Times of India (not rated by AllSides), the majority of coverage on AI was positive. The AI concern that seemed to be most pressing is the potential for the technology to claim jobs from humans – a concern that is not exclusive to India. Yet coverage represented the mitigation of those concerns and reassurances of AI’s potential for good.
The Indian Express’s lead headline in a website search for Artificial Intelligence was “AI ‘godfather’ Yann LeCun calls fear of AI unfounded, says jobs won’t be destroyed permanently” and The Times of India similarly invoked an authority figure’s assurances with the headline, “Govt will regulate AI to keep digital citizens safe; tech poses no risk to jobs in the next five years: Union IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar”.
Other top headlines included, “Soon, AI tools, machine learning to augment teaching in Andhra Pradesh govt's primary schools”, a positive representation of AI support and potential from The Indian Express, and “EU passes draft law on AI regulation: What’s banned, company obligations, and more” from The Times of India, reporting on new European Union rules for AI companies. While the article’s headline seems mostly explanatory, the content puts forth negativity bias. It lists the “tougher rules” and “greater restrictions” on AI companies in sections titled “AI Act: Prohibited Practices” and “What companies must do”. The article does acknowledge that some restrictions protect citizens’ safety and human rights, but it portrays the new act as a burden upon companies.
The Indian outlets do present some headlines that warn about AI dangers, like “What happens when AI learns from AI? Researchers warn of impending chaos with 'model collapse'”, "Even love is now mediated by AI — the law needs to catch up" – a lead headline on a separate date from the aforementioned Yann LeCun story – and “Artificial intelligence and the future of work”, which implies an upcoming shift in the status quo, but the outlets portray AI in a mostly positive light.
International Representations: France
French media outlet Le Monde (not rated by AllSides) delivered a seemingly even-handed representation of AI, both calling out its dangers and its potential for society. Le Monde published stories about both the extreme risks and the high rewards that AI brings. One headline read, "In Montréal, one of the fathers of artificial intelligence warns of an existential threat to mankind", while another seemed to praise AI, reading “AI: the appetite for risk is back”. The first article explains that AI “poses threats of displacement and domination that are scarcely the stuff of science fiction.” Meanwhile, the second article notes that “nothing is hotter in today’s technology sector than AI” and that AI is a “giant wave” that “no one wants to miss out on.” The article later refers to ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, as “the AI software with an answer to everything.”
Understandably, Le Monde’s coverage also focuses on French national policy. It ran headlines like "Macron wants French AI models to compete with OpenAI and Google" and "Macron announces €500 million in funding for AI", detailing France’s support for AI, alongside "Artificial intelligence: Global powers embark upon regulation race" and an editorial entitled "Artificial intelligence: Getting regulation right". The source opts to provide information about both the positive uses and economic potential of AI – which encourage French President Emmanuel Macron to invest in the technology – and about the global push for regulation.
“Getting regulation right” takes a different tact from the aforementioned “appetite for risk” article. It calls ChatGPT “controversial” and references “warnings about the dangers of AI” which it says are “multiplying.” The editorial warns about the immediate risks of AI, which it claims must be addressed prior to the establishment of any international regulatory body. Meanwhile, Le Monde’s coverage of the “regulation race” notes that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the United States, the European Union, and China have all recognized the “incredible benefits” and “real risks” of AI.
Le Monde captures varying viewpoints on AI – from its “existential” dangers to its investment potential, and from immediate regulatory necessity to global cooperation on regulation.
International Representations: Africa
AllAfrica.com (not rated by AllSides), a news producer and aggregator operating in 5 African cities and Washington, D.C. and operated by Africans, delivered an internationally-focused AI section – not one that zeroed in on one country’s regulatory measures or even work done by the African Union. Rather, AllAfrica put forth questions about United Nations (UN) action, with headlines like "Africa: Will Big Powers Condone a UN Role in Artificial Intelligence?", "Africa: AI Genie Is Out of the Bottle - UN Should Take the Challenge to Make It Work for the Good of Humanity", and "Africa: Does Artificial Intelligence Need a Regulatory UN Watchdog?".
AllAfrica’s focus on UN support is indicative of a bias toward international assistance. While such a bias does not represent a pro-UN sentiment in the entirety of Africa – in fact, there are some that decry UN over-involvement for its attempts to take control of African destiny – it may represent a facet of Africa that has become reliant on UN support after years of UN involvement in the region (six of the UN’s twelve international peacekeeping missions are in Africa).
Regulation is a theme of the AI coverage from many of the sources examined herein. From the United States’s rare bipartisan consensus about a need for AI regulation to the EU’s quick action on passing regulatory laws to Great Britain’s upcoming AI summit, much of the world seems to agree about a need to control a rapidly developing technology.
Great Britain’s summit is a time of coming together to harness AI. A spokesperson for Prime Minister Sunak said that the summit's goal is to bring together “like-minded” nations. While convening with friends is a solution to some problems, if the world wants to come together around AI, it has to weave together all perspectives on the topic. A UN role in AI dialogue has the potential to bring together the world’s nations to use AI for good and solve problems in ways that work for all of them – especially those who are not like-minded. Problems faced by the whole world are solved through the exchange of ideas, compromise, and collaboration of the whole world.
Ian Rosenzweig is a Content Intern at AllSides. He has a Center bias.