AI Proves, Yet Again, That It’s Not Replacing Journalists Any Time Soon

AI doomers love to talk about things like how AI is going to put journalists out of work. Yet, we see, again, that this isn’t happening any time soon.

When ChatGPT entered the scene, it got an exceptional amount of press. Here was a program that would generate plausibly human writing that could answer people’s questions. Instead of searching Google for links to answers to your own question, this program could simply generate answers for you. As people explored what such a module could do, it was discovered by a number of people that it could write computer code and, impressively, offer translations of text into a number of other languages. So, indeed, the AI (Artificial Intelligence) generated a fair bit of buzz for the applications it could provide over and above a bot that a human could communicate with.

Unfortunately, some people took to using their imagination in extremely off the rails ways. Some people thought that AI is going to replace journalists, lawyers, and huge parts of our society. While automation of some of the more basic tasks might more plausibly accomplish this (such as drive thru’s and managing a warehouse), and thus sparking a healthy debates about the merits of things like Universal Basic Income (UBI), the idea of AI replacing the more intellectually heavy lifting jobs is, indeed, a much more far fetched thing. Some of these doomers even take things to the highest of extremes by suggesting that AI will lead to humanities extinction – probably watching too many old Hollywood movies like iRobot or The Terminator to draw their conclusions.

Yet, despite so much evidence up to this point to the contrary, the mainstream media loves to play up this mythology that we are on some sort of cusp of AI simply taking over everyone’s jobs. It does, after all, tell a fantastical story that draws in the clicks and eyeballs, so why not perhaps offer some exaggerated takes on where AI is at the moment and where it’s headed? After all, telling tall tales have never burned the mainstream media in the past, so why not tell a few tall tales here and there to the general audience, right? Those audiences wouldn’t know any better in the first place after all.

The problem is that the tall tale of AI practically replacing humans in journalism, law, and other professions have convinced a large number of people that this is a real thing and that we are witnessing the moments before this actually happens. Some out there felt that they need to be on the cutting edge and be the ones to cash out first even though the technology is nowhere near where it needs to be in order to make something like that happen. Every time I’ve ever seen these attempts being made, it ended badly for those thinking that AI is this magical wonder tech that will do pretty much anything you tell it to.

From the law side of things, some people thought AI could easily replace humans when it comes to practising as a lawyer. One lawyer decided to use ChatGPT to write their legal briefs. That ended very badly for his case. There was another effort known as DoNotPay where someone thought they could create a lawyer to perform a number of legal tasks without having to spend money on real lawyers to create the paperwork. That also ended quite badly for that company.

Judging by these two examples, the jobs of lawyers appear to be safe from an AI revolution for the time being.

While you probably won’t be defended by an AI in court any time soon, what about journalism? Sorry to say for AI doomers, the story isn’t really that much different. CNET, a (at least) once reputable outlet for technology news, at one point had it’s writing staff replaced by AI presumably in the hopes that it could save a bunch of money in labour costs. That ended badly when accuracy became a huge problem very quickly. Gannett tried something similar while being more quiet about their transition to using AI to write news articles. That didn’t work out any better for them.

We could continue writing many more examples of how people tried implementing AI in very broad ways and it ending badly, but I think that’s a nice enough sampling to get the point across. Simply put, AI isn’t going to be replacing artists, songwriters, journalists, lawyers, or many others any time soon.

Now, before I go any further, this isn’t to say that AI is a fundamentally flawed and worthless technology. Indeed, AI has a number of uses such as the original intended purpose of ChatGPT as a chat bot. AI can greatly assist journalists in ensuring that their work has proper grammar. What’s more, AI can also allow people to view traditional games in fundamentally different lights and attain a much greater understanding of the games they play (examples include Tetris, Go, and Chess). AI most certainly has uses and it has come a very long way to reach the impressive levels that it has. At the end of the day, AI is a tool and that tool can be very useful for people. The problem we are seeing is that we are misunderstanding what kind of tool it actually is and, in some cases, this tool is simply being misapplied in some cases.

Today, I learned of yet another instance where AI is being misused and it leading to disastrous results. As many in the gaming community knows, there is some intense speculation over when the successor of the Nintendo Switch is coming. The follow-up speculation is what it’s going to be called. For a lack of an official name as of now, some people are simply referring to the next console as the Nintendo Switch 2, or simply, the Switch 2. Indeed, the speculation is warranted given that the Nintendo Switch was released back in 2017. So, from a general perspective, the console is getting up there in years as a current generation console. It is very likely going to happen soon. We just don’t know when.

Yet, that isn’t stopping companies from producing AI generated articles to, ultimately, speculate on this. One AI company had an AI article write about the up and coming console and it proclaimed to have a release date and name of the next Nintendo console. The problem? This was never confirmed. From Digital Trends:

As part of the ongoing wave of AI-related news at CES 2024, Altec Lansing revealed an artificial intelligence-powered successor to GameShark called AI Shark. More interestingly, the press release regarding this software claims that the Nintendo Switch 2 will launch in September 2024.

“Formerly known as GameShark, AI Shark is set to redefine the gaming landscape with its revolutionary AI-enhanced technology,” Altec Lansing explains in a press release. “The innovative gaming software is set to mark a significant leap forward in the gaming experience, bringing enhanced gameplay for beginner-level users. The official launch is planned to coincide with the Nintendo Switch 2 in September 2024.”

As the article notes, Nintendo hasn’t said what the next console name is let alone the window in which it plans on releasing. This is a major problem because it’s entirely possible that even Nintendo doesn’t have all that information. After all, consoles can, indeed, be delayed. Take, for instance, the Nintendo 64. The console was basically completed by 1995, but was delayed until 1996 in North America. Companies within the gaming sector can offer a release date and run into one problem or another, causing them to miss that release date. There are plenty of examples of this as far as the eye can see. I mean, all I have to say is “Duke Nukem Forever” and the gaming community will immediately know all too well the notorious delays of that game.

It’s very obvious that this is simply a guess. I could write a whole series of articles proclaiming that Nintendo is going to release the next console on different months spanning March to December. If one of them happens to be right, it doesn’t make me a super genius. It just means I happen to get a guess that was luckily accurate. Anyone else out there can take a guess at what month they think the next console is going to be released and it would probably be about as good of a guess as this AI. If the AI happens to be correct, it got lucky rather than being super accurate in its predictive technology (or whatever the marketers want to go for here). As the saying goes, your guess is as good as any.

Either way, guessing on the release month of the next console this far out is pointless. Maybe it’s interesting to say which half of the year you think it’s going to happen, but to narrow it down to a single month is just plain unproductive guesswork at this stage. Heck, for all we know, the next console could get released in 2025 instead. That’s also entirely possible as well.

At any rate, this is just AI, once again, falling flat on its face. Taking a guess like this is by no means revolutionary. If it happens to be right, it’ll be more that the AI got lucky rather than offer any kind of revolutionary edge in this area of technology let alone in the journalism sector. It’s also why I’m not exactly panicked over the idea of AI taking over the role of journalists completely. It’s yet another example of someone trying to be greedy and trying to invent a magic button that will perform work automatically while raking in the money. It’s no different than shady companies trying to sell a so-called “miracle cure” – it’s all snake oil. There’s no magic button that will automatically create a news room at zero expense. The above is just another example of this.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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