Is AI in the process of replacing our journalism?

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

It’s a story as old as time: robots rise up against their human masters, seeking to take control of the world and enslave mankind. 

But let’s be honest: robots actually managing to take over the world is about as likely as a unicorn winning the next presidential election.

First of all, let’s consider the robots themselves. 

Have you ever tried to get a robot to do something as simple as making a sandwich? It’s like trying to teach a rock to tap dance. 

Robots can perform specific tasks with incredible precision and efficiency, but ask them to do something outside of their programming and you’re likely to be met with a series of beeps and boops that can only be translated as “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

And let’s not forget about the most important factor in any robot uprising: the power source. Robots need electricity to function, and we all know how reliable that can be.

One power outage and your robot overlord is reduced to a pile of useless metal.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that robots do manage to overthrow humanity and take control of the world. What then? 

Well, for starters, we can say goodbye to all different forms of online entertainment. 

Robots don’t have the capacity for humor or creativity, so no more sitcoms, stand-up comedy or indie rock bands. 

And don’t even think about trying to get a robot to appreciate a good book or a fine painting.

And what about food? Forget about that juicy cheeseburger or that delicious slice of pizza. 

Robots subsist on a diet of binary code and electricity, so you can say goodbye to your favorite foods. 

Maybe worse than that, a robot-controlled world would just be incredibly boring.

Robots don’t have emotions, so there would be no laughter, no love, no heartbreak. Just an endless cycle of efficiency and productivity. But there’s not really any need to worry for one crucial reason: they just don’t have what it takes to lead. 

Sure, they can calculate complex algorithms and perform intricate surgeries, but can they make a tough decision or inspire a crowd? 

Can they come up with a catchy campaign slogan or give a rousing speech? I think not.

So let’s all relax and enjoy our human-controlled world, with all its flaws and imperfections. 

Because as much as we complain about politicians and traffic jams, at least we don’t have to worry about robots taking over.

The past paragraphs were generated in about 15 seconds by the popular artificial intelligence text-generation program ChatGPT with the prompt “Write me a funny newspaper editorial about why robots will never take over the world.”

I edited a couple of sentences very minorly and switched around two of the paragraphs that didn’t quite flow properly, but this was 98% the work of a computer. 

The humor was a bit hit or miss, but I thought the style was genuinely pretty entertaining and at least decently human. 

There’s been a lot of talk recently about AI’s role in journalism and writing, but I never really knew how impactful it could be until writing this editorial. 

While it’s nowhere near good enough to be considered elevated or inspired writing, with a click of a button, computers can now condense several hours of work into seconds and do a pretty decent job. 

Some readers probably figured out the twist pretty quickly, while others most likely didn’t have a clue. 

ChatGPT, along with other AI writing platforms, is trained off of billions and billions of pieces of data from every conceivable source, and as such, it is able to replicate specific styles and tones pretty convincingly. 

I told it to write the above article in a “funny” tone, but I could’ve said to write it as a thriller or very seriously, or angrily, or whatever else I could think of and it would do its best to match that specific style. 

But while ChatGPT is definitely broadly impressive, there are areas it definitely struggles in. In our above example, it repeated the same introduction for two of its paragraphs, and I had to change one of them to make the writing flow properly. 

It also was starting to lose focus on the topic by the end of the writing. 

It started talking about food, and, in a deleted paragraph, about how we couldn’t have fun anymore with robot overlords. 

The longer the writing went on, the less lucid and focused it became, which definitely presents an obstacle for those aiming to use the platform for more long-form content. 

I think as the technology progresses, its main use will be for short-form, unstyled writing such as news articles or basic reviews of products. 

Creative writing of more than a few paragraphs currently isn’t really possible as any attempt at a main storyline slowly gets lost. 

It does present some interesting possibilities however as an aid to journalists for writing their most basic, boring articles and allowing them to focus on more important and more exciting topics. 

The issues with this arise when bias is taken into consideration. 

Since AI is trained on these huge data sets, there’s no way to make sure that all of the information being used is legitimate and accurate. 

Errors in training could lead to the spread of misinformation, and the bigger that the technology becomes, the more severe of an issue this is. Despite this possibility, however, I think generally that AI capable of writing will end up improving the field as a whole rather than harming it negatively. There are definitely ethical implications such as plagiarism that are currently being talked about pretty much everywhere, but honestly, my point in doing this is that

AI is really, really cool. 

I never would have thought a few years ago that anything like this would be remotely possible. This doesn’t mean I think robots are going to replace us in the near future. 

I don’t think that robots will be taking over the world any time soon, but tvvhe technology of the future is pretty much already here, and is certainly starting to becoming more mainstream as advancements in the field hit the market, so enjoy it while the novelty lasts.