from the yes-I-can-absolutely-do-that,-Dave dept
Language learning technology’s (aka “AI”) introduction into journalism has been a blistering mess. And not just because the technology is undercooked (which it is), but because the folks in charge of most major media outlets are incompetent cheapskates who simply see the tech as a way to cut corners, wage war on labor, and automate all of the clickbait attention economy’s very worst impulses.
The result of that continues to go about how you’d expect, with a ton of rushed computer-generated articles filled with dumb mistakes.
But last week there was a fun wrinkle when users over at the r/wow subreddit tricked an “AI” scraping the web for news into publishing an article on a new World of Warcraft feature that doesn’t exist. The fans created an entirely new game mode and lore called Glorbo, talked about it as if it was a real thing in the subreddit, and got a website called The Portal, owned by Zleague.gg, to treat it like a real thing:
“The Portal, owned by Zleague.gg, ran an SEO item on Glorbo headlined “World of Warcraft (WoW) Players Excited for Glorbo’s Introduction”, quoting the main Reddit thread directly. Though it appears The Portal has since realised its mistake and removed the post, it can still be read in full on Archive.Today. The original post does not appear to denote that the story was automated. The author byline on the piece does not lead to a bio or social media links of any kind.”
While this was a fun prank related to gaming news, the same kind of lazy rushed implementation of “AI” is also occurring in the broader field of journalism. And while the tech may improve over time, the kind of greedy, incompetent leadership we’ve seen in media generally won’t.
There are plenty of ways these language learning tools could actually help journalists do a better, more efficient job. But we’re not injecting the technology into a healthy journalism and media environment. We’re injecting it into an already very broken clickbait bullshit generation machine, effectively supercharging all of its worst tendencies.
The goal for a lot of the VC types in media is to create a giant pointless ouroboros of clickbait gibberish and ad consumption that shits money. A giant wheel of pointless, often-manufactured engagement that is largely free of any pesky concerns about silly things like paying human beings a living wage, the quality of the end product, or the health of the broader industry.