G/O Media, who owns popular tech site Gizmodo along with a slew of other outlets, began publishing AI-generated articles last week, despite strong objections from many of the members of its staff, according to The Washington Post. The articles are all credited to various bots — Gizmodo Bot, for example — with no other indication that the article was created using an AI chatbot. Unsurprisingly, the stories needed a lot of work.
The internal reaction to Gizmodo’s first chatbot-created story — a chronological list of Star Wars movies that wasn’t chronological — wasn’t exactly enthusiastic, with journalists reportedly writing in Slack that it was “actively hurting our reputations and credibility.”
Brown told staff in an email in late June that G/O Media’s collection of technology outlets meant it was important that it use AI in its coverage, saying there would be errors, but they’d be promptly fixed. In a company slack from Thursday that The Washington Post viewed, Brown told the team in Slack he was “eager to thoughtfully gather and act on feedback,” saying better things “will come forward as we wrestle with the best ways to use the technology.”
Again, staff journalists expressed dismay, with one calling AI “a solution looking for a problem,” and accusing Brown of “wasting everyone’s time.” Another pointed out that there was nothing in their job descriptions that included “editing or reviewing AI-produced content.”
Gizmodo Deputy Editor James Whitbrook told the Post in an interview that he’d never dealt with “this basic level of incompetence with any of the colleagues that I have ever worked with,” adding that the chatbot’s seeming inability to even put Star Wars movies in the right order meant it couldn’t be trusted to report anything accurately. Whitbrook said he hadn’t asked for the article, nor had he seen it prior to publication.
The Post reports that the articles were written using both Google’s Bard and OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
G/O Media is just one of many media companies that have experimented with AI-generated content in the last few months. CNET recently began overhauling its approach to AI after suffering heavy media criticism over its use of the technology, while Insider started its own experiment with ChatGPT in April.
GMG Union, which represents Gizmodo’s writers and is part of the Writers Guild of America, East, asked readers not to click on any AI-written articles, saying the articles are “unethical and unacceptable.”
We’ve reached out to G/O Media for comment.
Disclosure: Vox Media’s editorial team, which includes The Verge, is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.