From Software Campus Programme to Manager of Book Publishing Solutions

Rocco reports on challenging AI projects at the heart of a career

What is your name and what do you do at Springer Nature?

My name is Rocco Raso and I am a Manager of Book Publishing Solutions at Springer Nature. My primary role involves the implementation of new strategies to improve and innovate academic publishing processes, with an emphasis on content innovation and book acquisition processes. My area of expertise lies in AI integration and I work on numerous interdisciplinary AI projects, mainly in the fields of natural language processing, augmented and virtual reality, and business intelligence. Since the beginning of my professional journey at Springer Nature in 2021, I have been focusing on large language models, testing and evaluating GPT-based technologies for our use cases.

Why did you decide to join Springer Nature?

I decided to join Springer Nature because of my positive experience collaborating with the company in the framework of the Software Campus Programme when I was a researcher at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). This was a highly rewarding experience, as it allowed me to learn a lot and to work on a highly engaging project, together with industry experts. Since I was impressed and already familiar with Springer Nature's vision, values, and corporate culture, it felt like a natural fit for me. I have always been passionate about scholarly communication, and Springer Nature's dedication to driving change in the publishing industry aligned with my personal values. Joining Springer Nature gave me the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing evolution of academic publishing while being able to work on cutting-edge AI projects.

What are you and your team working on?

At the moment, the main focus of my activities is the evaluation, testing and integration of GPT-technology for our internal use cases. Apart from working on numerous GPT-related projects, I'm also managing the development of an internal software solution to support our editors throughout the entire book acquisition process. This tool includes a system that offers personalized recommendations for each step of the process, as well as extra features for improved data management. This project offers an exciting space for testing new technologies and new approaches for integrating AI into existing processes. We also cooperate very closely with book editors, who are the primary users of the software solutions designed by my team. This helps us identify areas with innovation potential within our internal processes so that we can co-develop prototypes and proof-of-concepts for new software solutions.

What was the most important project for you and your team so far? Why?

My experience at Springer Nature was a crescendo of interesting projects, so that I have the feeling that the most important project is always the next one! Thus, I would say that my most important project is a project I am currently working on, which is at its initial phase. In March 2023, we conceived a semi-automated process for writing academic books using GPT-4. We tested our approach in cooperation with three authors and we were able to write one of the first hybrid books in German, which is completely machine generated and human reviewed. In particular, unlike many similar GPT projects, we paid special attention to the evaluation of the outcome, including constant feedback and reviewing loops within the process. The German TV channel 3sat NANO and the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung reported about our experience here:

This was the peak of a long research process that we started about one year ago and the beginning of a completely new journey, because with that experience we better understood the potential of this approach and the limitations of some of our first assumptions. So, we started a new, ambitious project for automating the process and we already have a first prototype. I really look forward to future developments!

What topics are you already looking forward to?

We find ourselves on the eve of an Artificial Intelligence revolution, which is propelled by the recent advancements in GPT technology. I am very excited and grateful to be a part of this epochal change. While GPT is well-known for its capabilities in generating and editing textual content, I believe its untapped potential lies in processing code and structured data. Therefore, I really look forward to the exploration of GPT for these purposes. One related aspect that particularly intrigues me is the optimization of processes with GPT. Using this technology, we can better understand and streamline workflows. GPT's ability to process structured data can help in extracting valuable insights and knowledge from our datasets, helping us to learn from our data more effectively and make data-driven decisions with higher accuracy. By uncovering previously hidden patterns and trends in data, we can make better predictions, solve complex problems, and drive innovation across various fields.

What do you particularly appreciate about working at Springer Nature and in the area of Content Innovation?

One of the key aspects that I truly appreciate about working at Springer Nature is the fact that we have a very good environment for experimenting and testing new approaches and new technologies. I work on finding new solutions for real use cases which sometimes are very complex. This is very exciting, and it enables me to exercise my creativity on a daily basis. I think that this creative flexibility drives our success as a company and also encourages us, as individuals, to grow professionally by embracing new challenges. Another aspect that I genuinely value is the diversity of my colleagues. Springer Nature is a large company, I have colleagues from all over the world and everyone brings a unique perspective and set of skills to our work.

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Manager Books Publishing Solutions at Springer Nature

"My experience at Springer Nature was a crescendo of interesting projects, so that I have the feeling that the most important project is always the next one!"