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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

Please Don't Replace Us WIth AI - A Journalist's Request

Updated: Apr 29

You've probably heard about the controversy surrounding Sports Illustrated using AI generated product reviews. If you haven't, the Sensemaker has an excellent podcast on the subject which I will embed here. If you've never listened to this podcast I recommend it, good variety of stories and they're well explained. #notanad But I digress.

Long story short - Sports Illustrated got caught using AI generated articles on outdoor equipment and personal goods. The journalists Sora Tanaka and Drew Ortiz do not exist. This is massively troubling for the people consuming these reviews - how are they supposed to give an acurate view of the product if the writer has no experience of it? These reviews are glorified ads with a smear of false reality. It is also hugely troubling for people like me, writers who would just like to get paid for their work every once in a while.

Listen, I'm no techphobe. I love technology and the multitude of ways it's improved our lives. AI has its place in that, as a matter of fact I know an artist that uses AI to inspire his pieces but the final work is all his own. The problem comes when we take away jobs from people and give them to a convincing robot. One they don't need to pay.

The really galling thing about it as a freelancer is that the industry is so competitive as it is. There are so many talented writers out there and we're all vying for the same spots, the same column inches. It is difficult to get started and even more difficult to stay relevant as news is so fast moving. Now we're adding the threat of AI to our troubles.

I guess I should have seen this coming after the SAG-AFRA strike this year. They're coming for all of us because there is nothing that can't be manufactured. Not anymore. You'd think that something as real, as human as creativity couldn't be taken over by ones and zeroes pretending to be human. The way the tech is evolving the facsimilies of people are becoming more and more realistic. It's already getting difficult to tell, and if articles can appear on Sports Illustrated for a month without being spotted we may already be in a lot of trouble.

The National Union of Journalists has already been calling for journalists to be involved in legislation discussions surrounding AI. I'm not optimistic we will be heard until the inevitable strike action is tabled but hey, maybe I'll be surprised.

The bottom line is support journalists and journalism in all its forms. Whether you're giving that £6 to The Guardian or buying real physical newspapers and magazines money spent on people writing about the things you care about will never be badly spent.

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