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Charlie Redmayne Highlights AI and freedom of expression

by | Jul 8, 2024 | News

On the eve of the UK’s general election, HarperCollins CEO Charlie Redmayne thanked authors and agents at the publisher’s annual Summer Party held at the V&A Museum in London for “voting HarperCollins”.

He also made some serious and heartfelt comments about the challenges that lie ahead with regard to AI and freedom of expression.

“The publishing industry is facing three very significant challenges,” he said.  “First, the seismic developments in generative AI.  We’ve long invested in the best minds in data analytics and these teams interrogate and invest in new technologies to the benefit of these authors to amplify their voices and ultimately sell more for their books.

“I know it’s a troubling time seeing generative AI come down the road. It’s like the digital revolution which came before it. We see threats but also huge opportunities.”  Redmayne acknowledged the worrying decline in children’s reading, but saved his most passionate words for freedom to publish which he said remains core to HarperCollins’ role as a publisher.

He spoke of the “ongoing battle for the freedom to publish and freedom of speech” and added: “We’ve fought some very high profile battles in recent years defending ourselves and our authors.  But the pressure still remains with calls not to publish authors or content – from those on social media or within our own industry, on the basis that some may not agree with what’s being written to lawsuits and battles with powerful people who’d rather not have their business aired in public.

“As a business we remain purposeful in our resolve to resist such pressures and continue to publish freely. We publish books from the right, from the left and from the centre—from all sides of the argument, and we do without fear or favour because that’s what a publisher must do.”

 

Among the 300-odd guests was Earl Spencer, brother of Princess Diana and author of A Very Private School, his account of the sadness and sense of abandonment he felt at being sent away to boarding school at the age of eight, and of the abuse he suffered. 

 

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