Samsung’s Generative Text Feature Is Extremely Worrying

Samsung’s Generative Text Feature Is Extremely Worrying

AI is all the buzz at the moment, taking the baton from tech cycle trends like NFTs and the metaverse. This means many companies can’t help but jump on board and talk about how they’re working with it. One such company is Samsung, which has introduced a bunch of AI-powered features, including the hugely useful ‘Circle to Search’ feature and the not-so-useful but fairly cool ‘Generative Edit’ image tool. Among the AI-powered tools is one that I can’t get over – Summarise.

Introduced as part of the Samsung Galaxy S24 lineup (the most powerful of which we reviewed) Summarise is powered by Google’s Gemini Large Language Model (LLM). It’s a text generator that can be prompted in the Samsung internet browser when you want bodies of text on websites summarised or translated. A similar feature in Samsung’s Notes app can summarise bodies of text, or automatically format them.

At Galaxy Unpacked, I played around with the feature a bit early. I noted that it can distil an online article down to just three succinct points, and I didn’t like seeing my articles trimmed down this much.

It also won’t summarise paywalled content, this is to avoid legal headaches for Samsung. However, as somebody who writes for a website that doesn’t have a paywall, I don’t particularly like the thought that just because we don’t expect users to pay for our content, it is then free real estate for AI to toy with. It reeks of the start-up “move fast and break things” ideology, and I hate it.

Overall, as somebody who produces original content, it makes me feel devalued. I asked Samsung Australia’s head of mobile, Eric Chou, about this feature.

“The Summarise feature, I would say, is to allow for exactly that; to provide you with a summary. I think with AI, we are not necessarily telling anybody to just avoid having to do any work, and hence the reason again, if you were to create a summary utilising AI, you would also see that there’s a watermark down the bottom, that it’s actually an AI-summarised article, as opposed to the full article,” Chou told Gizmodo Australia.

“I don’t necessarily think there is an intention from Samsung to say, well, ‘stop reading the full article’, but it is just a feature we do believe our users will be utilising quite extensively. More importantly, when it comes to meeting notes summaries or PDF documentation that is imported to Samsung Notes, which also can then be summarised and auto-formatted, that we believe, from a business context, to be quite useful.”

Chou added that Samsung would not encourage users to summarise copyrighted material and infringe on said copyright. He described anything that was a pay-for-service as a “no-go zone”.

It’s also wrong a lot of the time. I’ve been playing around with it all morning, and when asking it to provide summaries of my articles, including today’s edition of 5 Things and my impressions of the Lucid Air, it just gets stuff wrong – claiming that Samsung showcased the Air at its event and that the HyperVerse was operated by Blockchain Global. Not every summary was wrong, but it’s far from perfect.

Two demonstrations of the Summarise feature, which runs through Samsung’s internet browser. Screenshots: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

This isn’t irregular for text-generating AI, but to see a heavy-hitting hardware company like Samsung spruik this stuff as a major feature sucks. Text generated by AI, after all, isn’t made to be correct – it’s generated to look like real text. AI ‘hallucinations’ don’t come from a place of mistake, they come from a need to look real, rather than be real.

On the topic of this feature and its inaccuracies, I asked Chou if Samsung considers Summarise to still be a tool in development.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s in development, but I mean, AI, as with any model that needs to be trained, will continue to only just get better. We certainly wouldn’t be putting it out as part of the S24 if we don’t think it’s ready yet, but it will get better over time,” Chou added.

All-in-all, I’m hoping that tech companies slow down with AI. The Summarise tool is inconsistent, and it worries me about the future of digital media.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

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Zachariah Kelly travelled to San Jose as a guest of Samsung.

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