35% of CEO’s Say They Will Replace Media Jobs With Unproven AI Technology

If you thought 2023 was funny because CEO’s saw their AI plans blow up in their faces, 2024 might be even more hilarious.

Picture the following scenario: there is a new technology in the market that has little to do with your industry. Yet, there is a bunch of people saying that it is a perfect fit to your industry and will allow you to cut costs. Everyone that has implemented this technology in this manner already saw it fail spectacularly, racking up costs to clean up the mess that ensued and came at the extra cost of destroying their companies reputation. The other CEOs in the industry are then asked, would you implement this technology to ruin your companies reputation? When the answer is that over a third of those CEO’s say that they are going to follow suit and ruing their companies reputation as well with an experiment that is doomed to fail, you would probably be flabbergasted at the response. Like, what on earth do schools teach these CEO’s to be this dumb?

It’s a scenario so ridiculous, you would think that some random moron wrote this work of fiction because it’s so ridiculous, it isn’t even plausible. The problem is, it isn’t a work of fiction, it’s apparently happening in real life. This thanks to AI seemingly wowing gullible people into believing its capabilities are far beyond what they hope to deliver.

So, let’s step back for a moment and look at some of the events that led up to this point. CNET saw an executive decision to replace their news writing staff with AI. The results were a flood of reporting errors from the AI. As a result of that, staff was rehired to go back over all of the AI written articles and correct the errors. So much for replacing humans with AI writers. Gannett decided that they could do better by simply obscuring the fact that they were using AI in the first place. Instead, they were faking writers while trying to replace staff with AI. That didn’t work out that well either.

More recently, another company decided to try this magical money making machine of auto-producing journalism content. The result was a dumb guess as to when Nintendo was going to release their next console and revealing what they were going to name it – even though neither has been announced by Nintendo at all.

Time and time again, whenever a company decides to replace their writing staff with AI, it ends up failing spectacularly. The movement to replace journalists with AI is pure hype and no substance in the end. The question is, why is that?

This boils down to a fundamental misunderstanding of what AI can and cannot do. AI, such as ChatGPT, was built to generate human-like text. The idea is that if you read that text, it sounds like it was written by a human. That’s it. Can it translate text in impressive manners? Sure. Does it have a tight grasp of the facts when it comes to news? Not in a million years.

It’s one thing to write text in general, but it is quite a different matter to write factual text that is capable of understanding the facts of today and produce something that is credible. Yet, for some gullible executives that got starry eyed by a slick presentation, writing text is the extent of the job of a reporter writing news. If that can be automated, there’s no need to pay the staff to write that text, right? Wrong.

While it is, indeed, possible to have AI help a staff writer get the grammar right in a given piece (which even seasoned veterans can flub from time to time), it certainly is not replacing them outright any time soon. Yet, you’d never know that this was a thing thanks to a recent survey across CEO’s. A number of them say that AI is going to replace people’s jobs this year. From Arstechnica:

A quarter of global chief executives expect the deployment of generative artificial intelligence to lead to headcount reductions of at least 5 percent this year, according to a survey unveiled as world and business leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland.

Industries led by media and entertainment, banking, insurance, and logistics were most likely to predict job losses because of cutting-edge AI tools, according to the poll of top directors conducted by PwC ahead of this week’s World Economic Forum. Engineering and construction firms were least likely to anticipate cuts because of automation, alongside technology companies.

Some 46 percent of those surveyed said they expect the use of generative AI—systems that can spew out humanlike text, images, and code in seconds—to boost profitability in the next 12 months, the survey added. However, 47 percent said the technology will deliver little or no change.

The findings, based on interviews with 4,702 company chiefs spread across 105 countries, point to the far-reaching impacts that AI models are expected to have on economies and societies, a topic that will feature prominently at the annual meetings.

The article showed a picture of a chart where 35% of media and entertainment CEO’s expect to reduce their headcount by at least 5% thanks to AI. While some of it might relate to a reduction in copy editors, you know some of that revolves around replacing writing staff with AI in the news.

It is kind of ironic, but when I see this, I can’t help but think that my job is even more secure than ever as a news writer. There’s a bunch of CEO’s out there that have no clue what news writing involves and why AI isn’t replacing those roles any time soon. As a result, I’m looking forward to grabbing my bucket of popcorn and watching the fireworks show for when things blow up in more spectacular manners. It gives me plenty of writing material to work with as a result when whole news sources write things inaccurately in hilarious ways because the CEO decided that they don’t need those lowly employees making their fortunes.

Of course, some are hell bent on believing that the journalism profession is on the verge of being handed over to AI completely within months. To them, I say, “Have fun!” I look forward to reporting on even more AI blowups in the next several months.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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