"Embarrassing, unpublishable, disrespectful."
On Wednesday, an AI-generated Star Wars article was published on Gizmodo's science fiction section io9, barely a week after the site's owner, G/O Media, announced it would be performing a "modest test" of AI content on its publications.
Titled "A Chronological List of Star Wars Movies & TV Shows," the article contains blatant factual errors and omissions, and the site's human writers, who claim it was published without their input, are understandably furious.
"As you may have seen today, an AI-generated article appeared on io9," the section's deputy editor James Whitbrook tweeted. "I was informed approximately ten minutes beforehand, and no one at io9 played a part in its editing or publication."
Whitbrook added that he has sent a statement to G/O media (included in the tweet as a screenshot), along with a "lengthy list of corrections."
G/O Media's foray into AI-generated content marks the latest of big media companies forcing their unwilling publications — CNET, Buzzfeed, and Insider, to name a notable few — into adopting the controversial technology. Worse yet, in many instances, these pivots have been preceded or accompanied by large layoffs.
Error in the Machine
By all accounts, the AI piece in question is complete garbage.
"The article published on io9 today rejects the very standards this team holds itself to on a daily basis as critics and as reporters," Whitbrook wrote in the statement, adding that the work is "embarrassing, unpublishable," and "disrespectful of the audience and the people who work here."
Besides reading like a string of IMDB outlines tacked together — "shoddily written," in Whitbrook's words — the AI article doesn't even provide a correct chronological order of Star Wars entertainment.
For example, the article lists "The Clone Wars" as taking place after "The Rise of Skywalker," Variety notes.
Moreover, it's laughably outdated, failing to include the franchise's latest TV shows like "Andor" and "Obi Wan Kenobi."
In short, it is not only inaccurate, but completely useless to curious readers, serving only to get clicks rather than inform.
Will those clear shortcomings stop G/O Media from experimenting with AI further? One can hope, but G/O has so far remained silent on the matter.
The media company has also published an AI-generated article on AV Club, as spotted by The Verge, and it's unclear how many more are coming down the pipe, and which websites under its ownership will be next.
But for now, its unionized staff of dedicated writers have made it clear that they won't put up with having soulless AI-generated dreck like this thrust upon them.
"If you see a byline ending in 'Bot,' don’t click it," the GMG Union wrote in a statement.
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