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Tech Journal CNET Used AI to Write Articles

A writer laments CNET's reckless embrace of AI generated content

The prominent technology journal CNET has used AI to generate some of its articles, although the results have been embarrassing. Apart from general outrage from critics, who claim this maneuver will obliterate the need for entry-level writers, the unspecified AI system made lots of errors. Jon Christian gives an example of the AI’s “boneheaded” work in a Futurism report,

To calculate compound interest, use the following formula:

Initial balance (1+ interest rate / number of compounding periods) ^ number of compoundings per period x number of periods 

For example, if you deposit $10,000 into a savings account that earns 3% interest compounding annually, you’ll earn $10,300 at the end of the first year.

It sounds authoritative, but it’s wrong. In reality, of course, the person the AI is describing would earn only $300 over the first year. It’s true that the total value of their principal plus their interest would total $10,300, but that’s very different from earnings — the principal is money that the investor had already accumulated prior to putting it in an interest-bearing account.”

-Jon Christian, CNET’s Article-Writing AI Is Already Publishing Very Dumb Errors (futurism.com)

Christian gives two more examples demonstrating the AI’s error-ridden work.

Red Ventures, the company that owns CNET, did not initially tell its employees that it was using AI to generate content. An employee of Red Ventures, who chose to remain anonymous, held nothing back in their derision of AI, writing in another Futurism article,  

 I started my job wanting to write for people. I wanted to help them, to guide them, to reassure them that even in times of layoffs, even in economic turmoil, even in disasters and emergencies and everything else they could still dig themselves out of debt, they could still pull through and buy a house and build credit and fulfill the American dream. 

Now it all feels false. The writer is vestigial, an obstacle, mere fodder for the Machine. The audience is mere fodder for clicks.”

I Work for CNET’s Parent Company. Its AI-Generated Articles Disgust Me. (futurism.com)

The rightly disgruntled employee ended the article by defending the uniqueness of the human voice and accused the company of caring more about clicks and revenue than featuring the words of real people written for real people.

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Tech Journal CNET Used AI to Write Articles