AI guidance, terms added to AP Stylebook

by Nicole Meir on Aug. 17, 2023

Guidance on how to cover artificial intelligence and 10 key AI terms were added today to the AP Stylebook, to help journalists accurately explain the potential, inherent risks and varying effects of AI and generative AI models. 

The guidance advises journalists to avoid language that attributes human characteristics to these systems – or uses gendered pronouns – and remember that such systems are built by people with their own human biases and aims.

New entries available today on AP Stylebook Online include:

  • Generative artificial intelligence, clarifying the concept and advising to consider the models’ tendency to generate inaccurate responses to queries. 
  • Training data, explaining the term, and advising to consider the specific information training data may contain as machine learning models learn to find patterns from these datasets. The types of training data used in different AI tools can vary widely.
  • Algorithmic bias, a term used to describe the negative impacts of AI tools that draw from large datasets that are skewed by historical or selection bias. 

The AP Stylebook also now includes guidance for journalists to cover and accurately explain to their audiences the technologies and the concepts used in their creation.

The guidance advises that coverage of AI tools should aim to show how these systems work, where they are deployed, how well they perform, whether they are regulated, who benefits and makes money as a result, and which communities may be negatively impacted by such tools.

It includes suggested reporting approaches for journalists covering AI and their effects, as well as offers common pitfalls to avoid.

For example, journalists should beware of far-fetched claims from AI developers describing their tools, avoid quoting company representatives about the power of their technology without providing a check on their assertions, and avoid focusing entirely on far-off futures over current-day concerns about the tools.

The guidance also provides journalists with technical questions to ask when reporting on the inner workings of AI tools. 

Development of this guidance was led by global investigative journalist Garance Burke, following her 2020 John S. Knight Journalism fellowship centered on AI at Stanford University.

The guidance will evolve as AI develops.

On Wednesday, AP shared its guidance for journalists on whether and how to use generative AI. 


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