If everything you read on the internet was written by AIs, would you care?
My immediate reaction is, “yes.” If I want to read stuff that is regurgitated from Reuters’ news feed, I’ll read it and regurgitate it to myself.
But then, I think that a substantial amount of what we read online is already being written by AIs or other systems that regurgitate news feeds from elsewhere. I guess I am asking if the New York Times is actually worth anything, at all, any more.
The next stage in the slow-moving disaster is when someone writes a news-grazer/categorizer that learns what we like. Then, it browses around and forwards things to us that are largely fascinating, well-written, etc. Then, the situation can be described as “AIs writing articles for other AIs.”
I’m doubtless showing some confirmation bias here – for a long time I have thought that the internet was going to devolve into ad-bots trying to promote irrelevant messages, being filtered by filter-bots trying to mask irrelevant messages from our inboxes; a self-licking ice cream cone.
I’ve seen pundits proclaiming that “AI will kill Google in 2 years” but I doubt that, since google has a unique position gatekeeping people’s query-streams. If I am asking Google for “good deals on 8tb hard drives” there is a good chance I am shopping for a hard drive, and it doesn’t require a fancy AI to think that maybe I’m searching for an 8th hard drive at that. I suppose I could have an AI app that queries google and whatever, and filters and summarizes a nicely written report with a soupçon of wry humor and a link to an embedded link-set that has had all the annoying ads removed: “click here to buy from Vendor A”
Buzzfeed [ars] has loudly teased the idea of having all of its content written by AI.
On Thursday, an internal memo obtained by The Wall Street Journal revealed that BuzzFeed is planning to use ChatGPT-style text synthesis technology from OpenAI to create individualized quizzes and potentially other content in the future. After the news hit, BuzzFeed’s stock rose 200 percent. On Friday, BuzzFeed formally announced the move in a post on its site.
“In 2023, you’ll see AI inspired content move from an R&D stage to part of our core business, enhancing the quiz experience, informing our brainstorming, and personalizing our content for our audience,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti wrote in a memo to employees, according to Reuters. A similar statement appeared on the BuzzFeed site.
I confess, I am surprised. I am surprised that BuzzFeed was able to go public and that it’s shares are not garbage. Uh, hang on, this news just in:
Basically, BuzzFeed appears to be a garbage stock already, so perhaps their management team figured that the route to profitability is to thoroughly fail, and quickly.
The trend of media outlets replacing writers with AIs goes back a ways. I wrote a piece about this a few years ago: local newspapers use software to turn a few facts into an article – stuff like little league game scores, etc.
But, look, the self-licking ice cream cone is already happening, as one webzine is writing about another webzine using AI and, I guess that was their AI’s first writing assignment [buzzf]
Technology news outlet CNET has been found to be using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to write articles about personal finance without any prior announcement or explanation. The articles, which numbered at 73, covered topics such as “What Is Zelle and How Does It Work?” and had a small disclaimer at the bottom of each reading, “This article was generated using automation technology and thoroughly edited and fact-checked by an editor on our editorial staff.” The bylines on these articles read “CNET Money Staff” without any indication that they were generated by AI.
The use of AI to write these articles was first brought to light by a Twitter user, and further investigation revealed that the articles have been generated using AI since November 2022. The extent and specific form of AI being used by CNET is not currently known as the company did not respond to questions about their use of artificial intelligence.
My reaction is, succinctly, “who gives a shit?” but that’s probably because I haven’t been giving a shit about most online news top-level feeds for a while. I consume them, avidly, since that’s my role in this mess, but I try to cross-check wherever possible. Of course, with AI, it’d be possible to easily “flood the zone” with references, so that if someone searched for the game scores for the Jackanapes Vs Snakeheads, there could be a half-dozen sites corroborating it.
Perhaps the “simulationists” aren’t as wrong as most of us think – perhaps we’re trapped in a recursive marketing bubble.
My first reaction to BuzzFeed’s proposal was that I want to read stuff that was written by someone who put some thought into what they were writing. But, then, I think about some of the crap the New York Times has published, which is clearly just a gloss over a DoD press release or talking points memo, and I begin to wonder if any of it is worth thinking about for a second.