Swedish Radio publishes policy for generative AI

26th July 2023
For several years now, Swedish Radio has been actively exploring how artificial intelligence can strengthen our offer to listeners and make our operations more efficient. It provides both opportunities and entails risks, writes Olle Zachrison, News Commissioner about Swedish Radio’s AI policy.
Olle Zachrison on stage giving a presentation.
Olle Zachrison during breakfast seminar About journalism and AI. Credit: Jan Pieter van Eerde/ Swedish Radio
This blog was originally published on Swedish Radio and is republished with permission.

By Olle Zachrison, News Commissioner of Swedish Radio’s AI policy

For several years now, Swedish Radio has been actively exploring how, with the help of artificial intelligence, we can strengthen our offer to the audience and make our operations more efficient. AI and automation are used for, among other things, podcast recommendations and news curation. All news audio and most of our podcasts are automatically transcribed to make the audio content searchable internally for our employees.

Development is now accelerating when new powerful generative AI models are launched and become widespread, for example the well-known chatbots that can create new content (e.g. text, images, sound, video and code) based on user instructions. The technologies are found both in new external services and move into systems that are already used in our daily media production, for example image processing tools. In the area of ​​audio, services with synthetic and cloned voices are being introduced, and even fully AI-generated radio channels are seeing the light of day.

Swedish Radio sees great opportunities to become more relevant to our audience with the help of carefully selected AI solutions. At the same time, there are significant risks – around journalism, law and security. Since May, we have therefore had a company-wide AI council with three main tasks:

Read more: How public media is adopting AI

1) to point out which AI applications are of the greatest strategic value for Swedish Radio and our audience. It can both be about services that directly meet the audience and that are used in our internal systems and processes. Of course, we are particularly looking at audio-related AI services because sound is the focus of our overall strategy.

2) to be a focal point for journalistic, legal and security issues surrounding AI development and to propose guidelines where necessary. Here, the starting point is that all AI applications that reach the audience must follow the same journalistic principles as all other journalistic content. For example, all use of AI-generated content must be approved by the responsible publisher. Explaining openly and educationally where and how we use AI is important to maintain the audience’s strong trust in Swedish Radio.

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3) to initiate and participate in learning for the entire organization. Swedish Radio’s employees are curious about AI. Smart ideas are explored and good journalism is done on how AI technologies affect society, such as Studio Ett’s special broadcast on AI and Vetenskapsradion’s in-depth studies. But development is going at breakneck speed and we have to constantly stock up on new knowledge – to identify opportunities and risks ourselves and to be the credible guide to the listeners. We do this, among other things, through internal seminars and through networking with industry colleagues, in Sweden and within the European public service cooperation EBU.

Swedish Radio sees great opportunities to become more relevant to our audience with the help of carefully selected AI solutions. At the same time, there are significant risks. 

The new generative AI models – trained on massive amounts of data and able to create new, unique content and perform a variety of tasks at lightning speed – pose special challenges for serious media players. In the feeds, more AI-manipulated content appears. There are difficult balances to be made here in relation to our journalistic core values* – such as objectivity and impartiality – as well as around rights and information security. Therefore, we are now publishing a Policy for the use of generative AI at Swedish Radio – guidelines for all of Swedish Radio’s operations with a focus on the journalistic side.

We now look forward to even more discussions with committed colleagues about what is most important for us to explore and decide on going forward. In dialogue with the rest of the media industry and other social actors, we also want to contribute to the use of AI in a responsible and transparent way so that it benefits Swedish media consumers.

Olle Zachrison News Commissioner, who leads Swedish Radio’s AI council

*Read the Public-service handbook

Also listen to Swedish Radio’s breakfast seminar 17 May 2023 ” Man and machine – about journalism and AI ” in the Swedish Radio Play app or via the web here.

Note: this translation is AI assisted from the Swedish original.

Explore the policy