CNET Pauses AI-Written Articles to Quench Backlash

Stock image of a robotic hand typing on a laptop

CNET told its employees in a phone call Friday that it would stop publishing articles generated through artificial intelligence. report at The Verge. Or at least the company said it would suspend the practice of AI articles “for now” as it waits for a stream of media criticism.

CNET executive Lindsey Turrentine told employees about recent reports of the site’s use of AI. She said, “It’s uncomfortable. We’ll get through it. The news cycle will continue.”

famous tech media outlets, acquired in 2020 Private equity group Red Ventures was quietly publishing AI-generated content. for several months, under the heading “CNET Money Staff” or “CNET Money”. Other sites owned by Red Ventures, including Bankrate and, are also using the same, unnamed, proprietary AI tool to generate content, according to The Verge, Red Ventures executive Lance Davis noted in an employee call. .

In the CNET article, the tiny, elusive disclaimer on the “Author” page was the only initial hint that humans didn’t write the prose behind the post. Until the true nature of these articles, almost entirely basic financial descriptors transparently intended to drive clicks through search engine optimization, was first widely addressed. January report in futurism. And from there, several other major media outlets picked up on it. story.

all follow-up report Futurism has pointed out a surprising number of errors. Just one of our AI-powered posts. The article titled “What is compound interest?” misrepresented compound interest. many times. CNET was forced to issue a major revision and began reviewing all similarly produced content for accuracy.

And interviews with current and former CNET employees revealed that the “CNET Money” post is just the tip of the AI-iceberg. CNET has been using some form of automated support in the post for at least 18 months, and editorial staff often don’t know when automation is being used. previous report at The Verge.

On Friday’s staff call, Davis, Turrentine and CNET editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo provided staff with more details about how AI is being used on the site. Editors using AI tools can select the domain and section of an article, import data, and generate text. You can also include or add human-written text or reports.

Worth noting: Several major news outlets use automation or AI for some content on their sites. for example, Associated Press In 2014, it started using AI to generate articles for revenue reports, later expanding to sports summaries. Washington Post artificial intelligence was used to keep an eye on the election results and soccer game.

However, CNET’s application of AI is a bit different. By publishing numerous articles headlining basic questions in order to rank as high as possible in Google’s algorithmic evaluation, the company clearly sought to monopolize the click market for financial advice rather than free journalists to do other things. . and all this Articles claiming (actual, reported) large-scale language models won’t replace human in the media. CNET did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

Of course, CNET and Red Ventures aren’t the only ones to blame for the rise of AI-generated content on the web. Google Allowed this post to thrive. Search results pages provide ample financial incentive for businesses to continue pursuing artificial intelligence as a means of content creation.

“Our rankings team focuses on the usefulness of content rather than how it is produced,” Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search lead, told Futurism. “Useful” is a misleading term when SEO headlines can hide bad financial advice. And if Google continues to take that stance, the credibility of its search results could be further undermined as spammers and click-farmers take advantage. Gizmodo reached out to Google with questions, but did not receive an immediate response.

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