Full Q&A: AI and the new ways to outsource news content

Full Q&A: AI and the new ways to outsource news content (Pexels/Tara Winstead)

Origin Hope talks about applying technology and human ingenuity to create a great variety of content worldwide with bestselling author Morissa Schwartz.

We started Origin Hope in 2019 with a vision to transform the way people consume and engage with content. 

Our CEO and founder, Blaise Hope, recently had the opportunity to share some of our insights on the future of content in an interview with Forbes’ 30 Under 30 bestselling author Morissa Schwartz.

Morissa Schwartz: Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

Blaise Hope: I'm Blaise Hope, the founder and CEO of Origin Hope. I pursued my studies in the United States and gained professional experience in the B2B sector while working in the UK. 

Prior to starting the company, I had a background in restructuring content operations at a large media conglomerate in Asia, specifically one of the largest digital media conglomerates in Southeast Asia. 

And prior to that, I began my career as a journalist. I had the opportunity to attend events like the World Economic Forum in East Asia and the Indonesia Economic Forum. Additionally, I served as a nightly news anchor, conducting interviews with regional business and political leaders, and then just worked my way up.

Establishing Origin Hope

Hope: Origin Hope is basically the solution to content production in a way that has never been seen before in terms of what we do. The way in which we produce content just at a human level has not been involved like ours in 800 years.

In terms of where drafting is, the tools may have changed marginally, but the actual processes haven't. In the past 40 years, nothing's changed at all. 

Whereas, with cloud services for instance, you now have AWS and Azure that offer you cloud services at any scale, any kind that you need. And you can then focus all your energy on everything else you might have to do to run a business.

And the demand for content [is growing] because of smart devices is now infinite. However, it is totally constrained by a broken supply system. So, for the past nearly four years, I've been building up a client base around the world with use cases across every industry to prove what I'm saying is true. 

Every time I pitch someone, they'd sort of say, “Yeah, nice idea.” But I've heard that before. 

We now have forms of IP in several ways. Number one would be how we train, certify, and deploy human teams in low-cost, high-quality life parts of the world. Allowing them obviously to progress in their own education and careers. That alone beats outsourcers who've been doing it for decades too, in places like India, which have very high education levels.

And then on top of that, we obviously link that in with people around the world, in places like the United States, Sweden, wherever we need. And then we have our own proprietary tools and technology, including AI functions, natural language generation, and natural language processing, in understanding and generating language.

As far as our client knows, we deliver any content at any pace, any variety, and any language, 40 to 95% cheaper than anything else that is available on the market. And we are doing this for every conceivable size and range of content operation. And the motivations for doing this are that it principally started in journalism, watching the cons of what became the consolidation but the collapse of the American newsroom.

While I was studying in the States, my professors were losing their jobs. And the same thing going on in the UK. And there was actually no solution coming. I mean, a new freelancer platform is not going to solve the issue of highly skilled and trained people being chained to their desks to churn out stuff.

So I set about to create the company that we have now, and elements of which include things like models based on GPT 3, GPT 2. There's always gonna be a human involved, but at the end of it, the end goal is to match people's styles. So suddenly a reporter can spend all their time on an investigation in the field, which is not happening anymore.

Or in marketing, the department can suddenly have far more ambitious content goals that can completely change their strategy and also test new strategy, which saves on investment in other parts because they actually have the ability to test because it's not prohibitively expensive or when it's cheap, [it] requires so much management that it's just as expensive.

So we sort of solve all those problems and we find the cadence, mutual style. We deliver the work, whether it's through an API that publishes on your system or literally into your hand. 

And, whether you'll need changes tomorrow and suddenly, and again, like cloud services, “I don't need blog articles this week. I need a newsfeed that focuses on mortgages in the southeastern United States.” We deliver it. 

If you need sports reports, we're already doing that. And previews. If you need long-form SEO content, we do that. And the next day you need a bunch of TikTok reels to save your valuable editors' time and keep them working with reporters or working with the event staff that organizes this massive webinar. You don't waste their time revising all of that content. We do it and suddenly the algebra changes. 

The calculation of what you can do, what you can change, where you can find revenue, and where you can find savings, changes more or less time. 

Facing challenges

Schwartz: Starting your own business, like any entrepreneurial endeavor, there have been ups and downs along the way. Tell me a little bit about that.

Hope: Like I said, my career began as journalism, and [it] collapsed. So, I've never been in an environment where I've had more resources. I went to a developing market cause I wanted to work in a developing market. And I basically just worked as hard as I could until someone gave me a job or I was gonna be kicked out of the country.

Then I just kept the hunted instinct to work as hard as I could so that it was impossible to get rid of me. In these more dynamic environments, these fast-growing economies, things move very quickly. 

Also, these are places where people from other countries don't like to live [in] for very long. A lot of the time, it's inconvenient. There are a lot of things we take for granted with infrastructure that bothers people. After a while, it does affect your daily life and I just kind of threw myself into it.

And as I rose, I had fewer and fewer resources. So I've only ever dealt with scarcity. The idea of having more resources has just never been a reality for me until now. And so what that has meant is once you climb that ladder, [when] I start the company I knew, again, I had to prove the point.

So I couldn't go seek funding cause I don't ever intend to leave the company. I couldn't go seek funding to just sell to someone else. And I'm not someone who sat in a combinator and just came up with three words out of a hat to get funded to go do it for two years.

I went to a fancy university. Nothing wrong with that, but that's just not me. There's a very specific trajectory that I'm on and it's self-inflicted. So we started the company, I had to bootstrap it, so didn't have any really bounce money to put into it, so I had to make money immediately.

So even though what we were doing then could sell, it wasn't as good as what we were doing six months later. Definitely not as good as what we're doing. But we did, and that was kind of the journey I had to go on. When COVID hit, it made it worse, but it was already deliberately bad.

So we were already built to deal with that. And I needed to go find people who were willing to weather that storm with me because that is the attitude I have and the attitude that I felt was necessary to make this work.

We have to prove it to everybody or they're just never gonna believe us. So there's no point even trying to reach out to journalists or do any marketing until we can turn around and say, “Yeah, look, listen, you know, we're not making this up. This is actually happening.”

Overcoming fear, embracing AI

Schwartz: What advice or message do you have for individuals who are in a similar situation as you? 

Hope: There's a lot of pushback, right? We've had situations where we've literally had clients who want to go big and their staff has like suddenly taken over the project and then deliberately made us an accrued loss.

So we had to go back and change things and then restart again with this. And the reality is people are afraid of what they don't understand. Once you understand AI, there is literally no reason to be afraid of it. It is honestly the green pastures of what technology can do right ahead.

Yeah, sure. There'll be some ups and downs on the way, but we'll be there so quickly that it kind of doesn't matter. 

When I hear people say I'll never be replaced, [I’d say], “No, you won't be replaced because the instant the AI knows how to do something, guess what? The human does something else. All the AI is what you did before.

“And even if you go to sleep in the eye, the AI keeps predicting and then you go back to work in the morning and you see where it is, you just do the next thing. It's the sort of computational power that we're talking about without taking you.”

There are elements in the process that a human brain trained can do in a nanosecond, and we don't even have the computing power for it to be remotely economical to invest in, no matter how much money [we] have. You could use all the money in the world or the computing power in the world to find a way to do those decisions. But a human brain can do it in a nano section like prioritization and making a decision based on the trends of the day.

They’re just examples. It happens all the time. So why on earth would you create an AI for that? Because the human brain does it. It's about thinking of what content is that you could create. You know, maybe it's not an 800-word blog post. Maybe what you could actually create is an interactive piece of almost immersive journalism.

But you don't have to learn all the skills to do that because the AI will do that for you through your direction. That's kind of where we're heading. It's about the quality of the content. Because suddenly your human brain, which has been shackled in the same formulaic work in order to maintain views and maintain publishing numbers, is suddenly free to do these ambitious projects. 

And there will never be a substitute for finding that judgment and finding those subtleties on the ground. And frankly, there is no solution, right?

We wanna go back to marketing problems. There is no solution to unlocking the ambition of marketing departments without this. And there is no solution to unlocking the potential of newsrooms without this.

The AI that's existed so far, basically, pulling out masses of structured data sets a whole load of data, like 5,000 election results that come in at the same time, to create a bunch of articles about each of them that's formulaic based on the results that came out. 

It's a very complicated piece of linking the sides that you do when you're a kid. It's not some insane thing and that's also kind of not where the future is. The future is enabling the interaction between humans and AI. 

So if you are afraid, I understand that. Fear is my initial reaction. And then as soon as I even look closer, I'm like, “There's literally nothing to be afraid of.”

The thing to be afraid of is the dumbing down of the issue into something to create fear by people whose interests are protected by a lack of innovation in that. And then you have a real risk of being overtaken by people who do get it. And it does take a leap of faith, but honestly, it doesn't take a great deal of knowledge to understand it.

And also to understand this, you don't have to be a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon to understand and use this stuff. Just because Silicon Valley went ahead so far, that does not mean that's the only place where innovation has happened. They've laid the groundwork. . Most of the headlines seem to go to generative AI projects or AI projects in general that are there because they're pulling the most funding. 

But they're being founded by, advised by the same companies that they're gonna sell to, whether it's with them or with other firms. They're not gonna buy them in five to 10 years for 300 million. They're only gonna pay a hundred million. But they know they'll make 50 million. 

And then maybe some efficiencies that will last three or four years before the next one goes. And it's a perfectly defined ecosystem and career ladder. But it is not what this actually means, which is the interaction between humans and technology.

And that maximizes the fact that these skills are proliferating across the global population. So what's special about a journalist in, let's say, Brooklyn, is that they know Brooklyn and that they know people there. They can understand how the subtleties of a conversation or an interaction work in a way that no one else can.

But basically, 0% of the work that's going on now is actually gonna be counted on that, maybe 1%. Whereas 40 years ago, 60% of that kind of journalism would've been reliant on that kind of intuition. AI cannot understand or navigate that intuition, it's not going to be able to, it's a silly misunderstanding to think that it will. It's the most empowering thing that's happened in human history. Again, this just connects and allows the transfer of information. 

It's just the next step of the revolution, you know, 10,000 years ago, an idea, hand print, side of a cave painting, same thing. It is literally the same thing. First, we've got a glove, then we got a quill, then we got a pen, and suddenly you think, “Well, look, if I don't have to do any of that, I go from idea to whatever the next thing is.”

And then the idea becomes informed by stuff that goes before the idea, like an interview or a philosophical thought. But none of that's been. And you only need to look at the war or statistics of the number of investigations that are happening to understand it.

So it is wrong to be afraid. And it is a reason to be afraid is the fact that you're allowing yourself to be afraid. It's time to be bold. 

AI: A problem or a solution?

Schwartz: Love it! Now, what steps would you recommend for somebody looking to understand AI more? 

Hope: You don't have to jump to that stage immediately. The first thing that you need to do is imagine if you got up in the morning and you didn't have to make your own coffee.

You like making your coffee, but a machine did that and then the machine shoved it in your mouth and suddenly the coffee's already in your stomach. What would you do if you saved all that time? Would you go spend more time with your kid? Would you try to actually understand the application of it? 

And the second thing is, you don't need to become a coder. You gravitate towards learning a language like that.

I work with genuinely brilliant people. It's like working with a scholar of Arabic or Japanese or something that you may just not understand at all, but they can navigate it in a way that only a native speaker can. There are elements so you don't need to understand.

You might not understand how some structural elements of a multi-document summarize works, but you understand what's a multi-document summarizer. [It looks at] lots and lots of documents and it summarizes them - well then what? Maybe if we can have that put it into clusters of information. 

And maybe we have something that says, “Well, these clusters seem to be accurate and these don't seem to be accurate.” So why don't we focus on the ones that seem to be accurate? 

You just think about it in steps. Imagine if you broke your decision-making down into every little micro-decision that you made. That's AI. It's just that for you to do that every day with everything you do is obviously ridiculous. But that's exactly the kind of thing that you can make a machine do.

I mean, just think about the global population. What happened when we created the factories and mills? People said, “Yeah, our jobs will be replaced.”

They won't be, they weren't. They were changed and we applied ourselves differently because we are infinitely adaptable and we still don't even understand how that's possible.

Schwartz: I love the positivity here because all you're hearing is people scared about [it], but I guess that happens with any type of new technology. So, I love your positive outlook on it. Is there any kind of departing words of wisdom that you want to share? 

Hope: If anyone wants to reach out to me with a question, I will try to answer it. No matter what, there's no such thing as a stupid question. If more people were actually asking questions instead of letting assumptions take them away, then I'd say that'd be better. But I would just say, remember that we're at the dawn of several quite brilliant things.

Countries around the world are reacting to a globalizing sense of ideology. And, you can say in Iran where the protests are going, that's happening. They see how the rest of the world lives. And you can say in the UK they see how the rest of the world lives and they don't like the things here. The same thing in the US.

These are not unresolvable problems. You just have to go through the pain. 

But on the other side of this pain is the promised land of frankly, both communism and capitalism, which was never going to be achieved through brutal capitalism and was clearly never gonna be achieved through any of the communist experience. However, you don't sell people a dream, but if you genuinely improve people's lives and find ways to incentivize that, you create a situation where suddenly things change dramatically.

The world population was 2 billion people. I remember going to remote parts of Borneo where [a] rare disease was rampant decades ago. And I go up there and people are healthy, they eat well. And it's because companies found a way to get stuff there because governments said, can you find a way to get stuff here and we'll make it a little bit cheaper for you to work in?

And it happened and the population exploded, and education exploded, and quality of life exploded, and the population exploded. This is wonderful for me. 

This is not something to be afraid of. This is the best thing that's ever happened. So I would. Try to understand that we're on the cusp of the most extraordinary period in human civilization.

When less information gets out, cause less high-quality work is being done because the people just gotta churn out crap, you do the easiest thing and fear yourself. Easily. So that's why. 

So the problem is both the problem that the solution solves and also blocking people here in the solution.


Origin Hope provides any content operation with newsroom efficiency, powered by its optimized processes, AI technology and excellent customer service. We work with marketing departments, independent creators, publishers and media groups around the world. Get in touch here.