In a significant move, web publishing platform Medium has announced that it will block OpenAI’s GPTBot from scraping its web pages for content used to train the company’s AI models. This follows similar actions taken by CNN, The New York Times, and other media outlets, who have also disallowed GPTBot from accessing their content.
The decision to block GPTBot is rooted in the concern that AI platforms are exploiting the work of content creators without their consent or compensation. Tony Stubblebine, CEO of Medium, expressed his dissatisfaction with the current state of generative AI, stating that it is not a net benefit to the internet. He believes that AI companies have taken value from writers without offering any compensation or credit.
Medium’s move to block GPTBot is a voluntary approach, and it acknowledges that it may not deter spammers and others who will simply ignore the request. Stubblebine suggests that a coalition of platforms could be formed to tackle this issue collectively. He has already initiated discussions with major organizations, though their collaboration is not yet public.
The creation of such a coalition could have a significant impact, as a united front against unscrupulous AI platforms would create a powerful counterbalance. However, the development of multi-industry partnerships is often slow due to legal and ethical uncertainties surrounding AI and copyright. The definition of intellectual property and copyright is still evolving, making it challenging to establish an agreement for IP protection.
Stubblebine suggests that a prominent internet entity like Wikipedia could take the lead in breaking the ice and setting standards for AI use. While some organizations may be constrained by business concerns, there are others that can move forward without worrying about disappointing stockholders. Until a proactive step is taken, websites remain vulnerable to web crawlers that disregard consent.
The battle against unauthorized AI use requires collaboration and consensus among various platforms. By aligning on standards and platforms, organizations can create a network effect that improves the outcome for everyone involved. This collective effort would ensure that content creators’ work is respected, and AI platforms operate ethically.
While progress may be slow, the potential formation of a coalition signals a growing recognition of the need to address these challenges collectively. As AI continues to advance, it is crucial to establish guidelines and regulations that protect the rights of content creators while still allowing for the development of this transformative technology.