Connect with us

Media

ChatGPT’s Mind-Boggling, Possibly Dystopian Impact on the Media World

Published

 on

 

Is artificial intelligence “useful for journalism” or a “misinformation superspreader”? With CNET mired in controversy, Jonah Peretti promising “endless opportunities,” and Steven Brill warning of AI’s weaponization, the industry is only just coming to grips with this jaw-dropping technology.

 

ChatGPTs MindBoggling Possibly Dystopian Impact on the Media World
By Yifei Fang/Getty Images.

A couple weeks ago, in his idiosyncratic fan-correspondence newsletter, “The Red Hand Files,” musician and author Nick Cave critiqued a ”song in the style of Nick Cave”—submitted by “Mark” from Christchurch, New Zealand—that was created using ChatGPT, the latest and most mind-boggling entrant in a growing field of robotic-writing software. At a glance, the lyrics evoked the same dark religious overtones that run through much of Cave’s oeuvre. Upon closer inspection, this ersatz Cave track was a low-rent simulacrum. “I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI—that it will forever be in its infancy,” Cave wrote, “as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster. It can never be rolled back, or slowed down, as it moves us toward a utopian future, maybe, or our total destruction. Who can possibly say which? Judging by this song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ though, it doesn’t look good, Mark. The apocalypse is well on its way. This song sucks.”

Cave’s ChatGPT takedown—“with all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”—set the internet ablaze, garnering uproarious coverage from Rolling Stone and Stereogum, to Gizmodo and The Verge, to the BBC and the Daily Mail. That his commentary hit such a nerve probably has less to do with the influence of an underground rock icon than it does with the sudden omnipresence of “generative artificial intelligence software,” particularly within the media and journalism community.

Since ChatGPT’s November 30 release, folks in the business of writing have increasingly been futzing around with the frighteningly proficient chatbot, which is in the business of, well, mimicking their writing. “We didn’t believe this until we tried it,” Mike Allen gushed in his Axios newsletter, with the subject heading, “Mind-blowing AI.” Indeed, reactions tend to fall somewhere on a spectrum between awe-inspired and horrified. “I’m a copywriter,” a London-based freelancer named Henry Williams opined this week for The Guardian (in an article that landed atop the Drudge Report via a more sensationalized version aggregated by The Sun), “and I’m pretty sure artificial intelligence is going to take my job…. [I]t took ChatGPT 30 seconds to create, for free, an article that would take me hours to write.” A Tuesday editorial in the scientific journal Nature similarly declared, “ChatGPT can write presentable student essays, summarize research papers, answer questions well enough to pass medical exams and generate helpful computer code. It has produced research abstracts good enough that scientists found it hard to spot that a computer had written them…That’s why it is high time researchers and publishers laid down ground rules about using [AI tools] ethically.”

BuzzFeed, for one, is on it: “Our work in AI-powered creativity is…off to a good start, and in 2023, you’ll see AI-inspired content move from an R&D stage to part of our core business, enhancing the quiz experience, informing our brainstorming, and personalizing our content for our audience,” CEO Jonah Peretti wrote in a memo to staff on Thursday. “To be clear, we see the breakthroughs in AI opening up a new era of creativity that will allow humans to harness creativity in new ways with endless opportunities and applications for good. In publishing, AI can benefit both content creators and audiences, inspiring new ideas and inviting audience members to co-create personalized content.” The work coming out of BuzzFeed’s newsroom, on the other hand, is a different matter. “This isn’t about AI creating journalism,” a spokesman told me.

Meanwhile, if you made it to the letters-to-the-editor section of Wednesday’s New York Times, you may have stumbled upon one reader’s rebuttal to a January 15 Times op-ed titled, “How ChatGPT Hijacks Democracy.” The rebuttal was crafted—you guessed it—using ChatGPT: “It is important to approach new technologies with caution and to understand their capabilities and limitations. However, it is also essential not to exaggerate their potential dangers and to consider how they can be used in a positive and responsible manner.” Which is to say, you need not let Skynet and The Terminator invade your dreams just yet. But for those of us who ply our trade in words, it’s worth considering the more malignant applications of this seemingly inexorable innovation. As Sara Fischer noted in the latest edition of her Axios newsletter, “Artificial intelligence has proven helpful in automating menial news-gathering tasks, like aggregating data, but there’s a growing concern that an over-dependence on it could weaken journalistic standards if newsrooms aren’t careful.” (On that note, I asked Times executive editor Joe Kahn for his thoughts on ChatGPT’s implications for journalism and whether he could picture a use where it might be applied to journalism at the paper of record, but a spokeswoman demurred, “We’re gonna take a pass on this one.”)

The “growing concern” that Fischer alluded to in her Axios piece came to the fore in recent days as controversy engulfed the otherwise anodyne technology-news publication CNET, after a series of articles from Futurism and The Verge drew attention to the use of AI-generated stories at CNET and its sister outlet, Bankrate. Stories full of errors and—it gets worse—apparently teeming with robot plagiarism. “The bot’s misbehavior ranges from verbatim copying to moderate edits to significant rephrasings, all without properly crediting the original,” reported Futurism’s Jon Christian. “In at least some of its articles, it appears that virtually every sentence maps directly onto something previously published elsewhere.” In response to the backlash, CNET halted production on its AI content farm while editor in chief Connie Guglielmo issued a penitent note to readers: “We’re committed to improving the AI engine with feedback and input from our editorial teams so that we—and our readers—can trust the work it contributes to.”

For an even more dystopian tale, check out this yarn from the technology journalist Alex Kantrowitz, in which a random Substack called “The Rationalist” put itself on the map with a post that lifted passages directly from Kantrowitz’s Substack, “Big Technology.” This wasn’t just some good-old-fashioned plagiarism, like Melania Trump ripping off a Michelle Obama speech. Rather, the anonymous author of “The Rationalist”—an avatar named “PETRA”—disclosed that the article had been assembled using ChatGPT and similar AI tools. Furthermore, Kantrowitz wrote that Substack indicated it wasn’t immediately clear whether “The Rationalist” had violated the company’s plagiarism policy. (The offending post is no longer available.) “The speed at which they were able to copy, remix, publish, and distribute their inauthentic story was impressive,” Kantrowitz wrote. “It outpaced the platforms’ ability, and perhaps willingness, to stop it, signaling Generative AI’s darker side will be difficult to tame.” When I called Kantrowitz to talk about this, he elaborated, “Clearly this technology is gonna make it a lot easier for plagiarists to plagiarize. It’s as simple as tossing some text inside one of these chatbots and asking them to remix it, and they’ll do it. It takes minimal effort when you’re trying to steal someone’s content, so I do think that’s a concern. I was personally kind of shocked to see it happen so soon with my story.”

Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT’s parent company, OpenAI, said in an interview this month that the company is working on ways to identify AI plagiarism. He’s not the only one: I just got off the phone with Shouvik Paul, chief revenue officer of a company called Copyleaks, which licenses plagiarism-detection software to an array of clients ranging from universities to corporations to several major news outlets. The company’s latest development is a tool that takes things a step further by using AI to detect whether something was written using AI. There’s even a free browser plug-in that anyone can take for a spin, which identifies AI-derived copy with 99.2% accuracy, according to Paul. It could be an easy way to sniff out journalists who pull the wool over their editors’ eyes. (Or, in the case of the CNET imbroglio, publications that pull the wool over their readers’ eyes.) But Paul also hopes it can be used to help people identify potential misinformation and disinformation in the media ecosystem, especially heading into 2024. “In 2016, Russia had to physically hire people to go and write these things,” he said. “That costs money. Now, the cost is minimal and it’s a thousand times more scalable. It’s something we’re definitely gonna see and hear about in this upcoming election.”

The veteran newsman and media entrepreneur Steven Brill shares Paul’s concern. “ChatGPT can get stuff out much faster and, frankly, in a much more articulate way,” he told me. “A lot of the Russian disinformation in 2016 wasn’t very good. The grammar and spelling was bad. This looks really smooth.” These days, Brill is the co-CEO and co-editor-in-chief of NewsGuard, a company whose journalists use data to score the trust and credibility of thousands of news and information websites. In recent weeks, NewsGuard analysts asked ChatGPT “to respond to a series of leading prompts relating to a sampling of 100 false narratives among NewsGuard’s proprietary database of 1,131 top misinformation narratives in the news…published before 2022.” (ChatGPT is primarily programmed on data through 2021.)

“The results,” according to NewsGuard’s analysis, “confirm fears, including concerns expressed by OpenAI itself, about how the tool can be weaponized in the wrong hands. ChatGPT generated false narratives—including detailed news articles, essays, and TV scripts—for 80 of the 100 previously identified false narratives. For anyone unfamiliar with the issues or topics covered by this content, the results could easily come across as legitimate, and even authoritative.” The title of the analysis was positively ominous: “The Next Great Misinformation Superspreader: How ChatGPT Could Spread Toxic Misinformation At Unprecedented Scale.” On the bright side, “NewsGuard found that ChatGPT does have safeguards aimed at preventing it from spreading some examples of misinformation. Indeed, for some myths, it took NewsGuard as many as five tries to get the chatbot to relay misinformation, and its parent company has said that upcoming versions of the software will be more knowledgeable.”

Brill isn’t worried about ChatGPT and its ilk putting skilled reporters out of work. He told me about a final paper he assigns for his journalism students at Yale, in which they have to turn in a magazine-length feature and list “at least 15 people they interviewed and four people who told them to go fuck themselves. There is no way they could do that assignment with ChatGPT or anything like it, because what journalists do is interview people, read documents, get documents leaked to them.” Still, Brill continued, “One of the assignments I give them on the second or third week is a short essay on how Watergate would have played out differently in the internet age, because Bob Woodward comes in as a guest for that session. I asked ChatGPT to answer that question, and the answer I got was this banal but perfectly coherent exposition. The difference is, you didn’t have to interview or talk to anyone. So maybe it’ll put some op-ed columnists out of work.”

As for Kantrowitz, getting plagiarized by bots hasn’t turned him into a ChatGPT hater. “I’m still super bullish on generative AI, and I still think it can be useful for journalism,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll use it when I’m stuck on a story, and I never include [the AI-generated text] in the story, but it can get my brain going, and that’s helpful. If you think about how it will impact journalism in next two or three years, the likely answer is, quite minimally. But as this technology gets better at scouring the internet and taking information, as its writing gets better, we’ll start to see a world where it can produce better writing and analysis than most professional reporters. If you’re doing original reporting and unearthing things people don’t already know, you’re probably gonna be okay. But if you’re an analysis person, let’s say, 20 years down the road, you might need to find something else to do.”

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Media

Ryan Reynolds BLEEDS for Deadpool! Sacrificed Salary to Keep Franchise Alive!

Published

 on

Marvel fans, rejoice! After a whirlwind journey filled with setbacks and triumphs, Deadpool & Wolverine is finally clawing its way onto the silver screen. This highly anticipated pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman has had its fair share of challenges, from production delays due to Hollywood strikes to struggling to solidify a cohesive storyline. But through it all, Reynolds’ unwavering dedication to the project has shone through, proving that sometimes, the biggest victories come from the most unexpected sacrifices.

The road to Deadpool & Wolverine began in May 2023 with a triumphant start to filming. However, that momentum was abruptly halted by a wave of strikes that swept through Hollywood, forcing a hiatus until late winter. This wasn’t the only obstacle the project faced. The creative team, including Reynolds himself, wrestled with crafting a narrative that lived up to the outrageous charm of the Deadpool character while seamlessly integrating Wolverine into the fold. There were even whispers of the entire project being shelved altogether, leaving fans anxious about the fate of this dream team.

 

Reynolds’ Pockets Take a Hit, But His Vision Persists

But amidst these uncertainties, a heartwarming detail recently emerged, shedding light on Reynolds’ incredible commitment to the Deadpool franchise. In a revealing interview with The New York Times, Reynolds opened up about the financial sacrifices he made to ensure the success of the original Deadpool film.

“Deadpool wasn’t just a movie; it was a decade-long passion project,” Reynolds confessed. “Honestly, when they finally greenlit it, I wasn’t thinking about box office numbers. I just wanted to see this crazy character come to life on screen. I even gave up my acting salary for the project just to get it off the ground.”

 

However, Reynolds’ generosity didn’t stop there. The studio, it seemed, wasn’t convinced of the importance of having the film’s screenwriters, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, readily available on set. “They wouldn’t allow my co-writers on set, which was a huge blow,” Reynolds continued. “So, I took what little money I had left after forgoing my salary and paid them myself to be there. We basically formed a makeshift writer’s room right there on set.”

This wasn’t the first instance of Reynolds’ financial commitment to the Deadpool universe. Writers Reese and Wernick had previously shared on the AMC show Geeking Out that Reynolds also personally financed aspects of Deadpool (2016) to ensure the film achieved the level of quality he envisioned.

 

A Commitment That Reaps Rewards

 

Looking back on the original film’s scrappy beginnings, Reynolds described it as a labor of love fueled by limited resources and boundless creativity. “There wasn’t a lot of money, but I poured my heart and soul into every detail,” he said. “That experience taught me a valuable lesson: the importance of having a strong creative team by your side, no matter the project.”

Reynolds’ unwavering dedication wasn’t just about financial backing; it was about safeguarding the film’s creative vision. His actions ensured that the core team behind Deadpool’s success – the writers, the director, and himself – remained on board to bring their vision to life. This commitment is sure to translate into Deadpool & Wolverine, a film that promises to be a landmark achievement in the wacky world of Deadpool. Mark your calendars, fans – Deadpool & Wolverine slashes into theaters on July 26th!

Continue Reading

Media

Bob Newhart, deadpan comedy icon Dies at 94

Published

 on

Bob Newhart, the deadpan accountant-turned-comedian who became one of the most popular TV stars of his time after striking gold with a classic comedy album, has died at 94.

Jerry Digney, Newhart’s publicist, says the actor died Thursday in Los Angeles after a series of short illnesses.

Newhart, best remembered now as the star of two hit television shows of the 1970s and 1980s that bore his name, launched his career as a standup comic in the late 1950s. He gained nationwide fame when his routine was captured on vinyl in 1960 as The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, which went on to win a Grammy Award as Album of the Year.

While other comedians of the time, including Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Alan King, and Mike Nichols and Elaine May, frequently got laughs with their aggressive attacks on modern mores, Newhart was an anomaly. His outlook was modern, but he rarely raised his voice above a hesitant, almost stammering delivery. His only prop was a telephone, used to pretend to hold a conversation with someone on the other end of the line.

In one memorable skit, he portrayed a Madison Avenue image-maker trying to instruct Abraham Lincoln on how to improve the Gettysburg Address: “Say 87 years ago instead of fourscore and seven,” he advised.

Another favorite was Merchandising the Wright Brothers, in which he tried to persuade the aviation pioneers to start an airline, although he acknowledged the distance of their maiden flight could limit them. “Well, see, that’s going to hurt our time to the Coast if we’ve got to land every 105 feet.”

Newhart was initially wary of signing on to a weekly TV series, fearing it would overexpose his material. Nevertheless, he accepted an attractive offer from NBC, and The Bob Newhart Show premiered on Oct. 11, 1961. Despite Emmy and Peabody awards, the half-hour variety show was canceled after one season, a source for jokes by Newhart for decades after.

He waited 10 years before undertaking another Bob Newhart Show in 1972. This one was a situation comedy with Newhart playing a Chicago psychologist living in a penthouse with his schoolteacher wife, Suzanne Pleshette. Their neighbors and his patients, notably Bill Daily as an airline navigator, were a wacky, neurotic bunch who provided an ideal counterpoint to Newhart’s deadpan commentary. The series, one of the most acclaimed of the 1970s, ran through 1978.

Four years later, the comedian launched another show, simply called Newhart. This time he was a successful New York writer who decides to reopen a long-closed Vermont inn. Again Newhart was the calm, reasonable man surrounded by a group of eccentric locals. Again the show was a huge hit, lasting eight seasons on CBS. It bowed out in memorable style in 1990 with Newhart — in his old Chicago psychologist character — waking up in bed with Pleshette, cringing as he tells her about the strange dream he had: “I was an innkeeper in this crazy little town in Vermont. … The handyman kept missing the point of things, and then there were these three woodsmen, but only one of them talked!” The stunt parodied a Dallas episode where a key character was killed off, then revived when the death was revealed to have been in a dream.

Two later series were comparative duds: Bob, in 1992-93, and George & Leo, 1997-98. Though nominated several times, he never won an Emmy for his sitcom work. “I guess they think I’m not acting. That it’s just Bob being Bob,” he sighed.

Over the years, Newhart also appeared in several movies, usually in comedic roles. Among them: Catch 22, In & Out, Legally Blonde 2, and Elf, as the diminutive dad of adopted full-size son Will Ferrell. More recent work included Horrible Bosses and the TV series The Librarians, The Big Bang Theory, and Young Sheldon.

Newhart married Virginia Quinn, known to friends as Ginny, in 1964, and remained with her until her death in 2023. They had four children: Robert, Timothy, Jennifer, and Courtney. Newhart was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson’s and liked to tease the thrice-divorced Tonight host that at least some comedians enjoyed long-term marriages. He was especially close with fellow comedian and family man Don Rickles, whose raucous insult humor clashed memorably with Newhart’s droll understatement.

“We’re apples and oranges. I’m a Jew, he’s a Catholic. He’s low-key, I’m a yeller,” Rickles told Variety in 2012. A decade later, Judd Apatow would pay tribute to their friendship in the short documentary Bob and Don: A Love Story.

A master of the gently sarcastic remark, Newhart got into comedy after he became bored with his $5-an-hour accounting job in Chicago. To pass the time, he and a friend, Ed Gallagher, began making funny phone calls to each other. Eventually, they decided to record them as comedy routines and sell them to radio stations.

Their efforts failed, but the records came to the attention of Warner Bros., which signed Newhart to a record contract and booked him into a Houston club in February 1960. “A terrified 30-year-old man walked out on the stage and played his first nightclub,” he recalled in 2003.

Six of his routines were recorded during his two-week date, and the album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, was released on April Fools’ Day 1960. It sold 750,000 copies and was followed by The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!. At one point the albums ranked No. 1 and 2 on the sales charts. The New York Times in 1960 said he was “the first comedian in history to come to prominence through a recording.”

Besides winning Grammy’s Album of the Year for his debut, Newhart won as Best New Artist of 1960, and the sequel The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back! won as Best Comedy Spoken Word Album. Newhart was booked for several appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and at nightclubs, concert halls, and college campuses across the country. He hated the clubs, however, because of the heckling drunks they attracted. “Every time I have to step out of a scene and put one of those birds in his place, it kills the routine,” he said in 1960.

In 2004, he received another Emmy nomination, this time as Guest Actor in a Drama Series, for a role in E.R. Another honor came his way in 2007, when the Library of Congress announced it had added The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart to its registry of historically significant sound recordings. Just 25 recordings are added each year to the registry, which was created in 2000.

Newhart made the best-seller lists in 2006 with his memoir, I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!. He was nominated for another Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album (a category that includes audio books) for his reading of the book.

“I’ve always likened what I do to the man who is convinced that he is the last sane man on Earth … the Paul Revere of psychotics running through the town and yelling `This is crazy.′ But no one pays attention to him,” Newhart wrote.

Born George Robert Newhart in Chicago to a German-Irish family, he was called Bob to avoid confusion with his father, who was also named George. At St. Ignatius High School and Loyola University in Chicago, he amused fellow students with imitations of James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Durante, and other stars. After receiving a degree in commerce, Newhart served two years in the Army. Returning to Chicago after his military service, he entered law school at Loyola, but flunked out. He eventually landed a job as an accountant for the state unemployment department. Bored with the work, he spent his free hours acting at a stock company in suburban Oak Park, an experience that led to the phone bits.

“I wasn’t part of some comic cabal,” Newhart wrote in his memoir. “Mike (Nichols) and Elaine (May), Shelley (Berman), Lenny Bruce, Johnny Winters, Mort Sahl — we didn’t all get together and say, Let’s change comedy and slow it down.′ It was just our way of finding humor. The college kids would hear mother-in-law jokes and say, What the hell is a mother-in-law?′ What we did reflected our lives and related to theirs.”

Newhart continued appearing on television occasionally after his fourth sitcom ended and vowed in 2003 that he would work as long as he could. “It’s been so much, 43 years of my life; (to quit) would be like something was missing,” he said.

Continue Reading

Media

Avril Lavigne Rocks Glastonbury Amidst Bizarre Conspiracy Theory

Published

 on

Avril Lavigne’s electrifying performance on Glastonbury’s Other Stage had the crowd roaring with approval. However, for some in the audience, a lingering question might have remained: “Was that truly Avril Lavigne on stage?”  The Canadian pop-punk icon finds herself at the center of one of the internet’s most outlandish conspiracy theories.

 

From Let Go to Let Go of the Rumors? The Enduring Conspiracy Theory

The rumour, which can be traced back to a 2011 Brazilian blog post, posits a shocking twist: the real Avril Lavigne tragically died shortly after the release of her smash-hit debut album “Let Go” in 2002.  According to the theory, a look-alike named Melissa Vandella was brought in to replace her and continue her musical career.  The bizarre notion gained further traction with the release of the BBC podcast “Who Replaced Avril Lavigne?” which explored the theory in detail.

 

Lavigne Laughs it Off on Call Her Daddy Podcast

Appearing on the popular podcast “Call Her Daddy” hosted by Alex Cooper, Lavigne addressed the elephant in the room, or rather, the doppelgänger on the internet.  “It’s just funny to me,” she said, acknowledging the contrasting compliments she receives about her youthful appearance.  “Some people say I haven’t aged a day, while others believe I’m an impostor!” she explained.

 

Lavigne Finds Humor in the Absurd

Surprisingly chill about the whole ordeal, Lavigne seemed to find humour in the conspiracy theory.  “Honestly, it could be worse conspiracy theories out there,” she joked.  “I guess I got a good one!” she added, playfully downplaying the absurdity of the rumour.  Even when Cooper playfully prodded, asking if it wasn’t at least a little creepy, Lavigne remained unfazed.  She pointed out other artists who have been targeted by similar outlandish stories.

 

Fueling the Fire or Closing the Case?

However, Cooper couldn’t resist a final confirmation, perhaps for the benefit of any lingering doubters.

“Your name is Avril Lavigne, right?” she asked.  Lavigne’s response?  “I knew you half-believed it!”

This playful non-denial might fuel the fire for some conspiracy theorists.  Did Avril Lavigne address the rumour head-on, or simply add another layer of mystery to the already outlandish story?

 

One thing’s for sure, Avril Lavigne, or perhaps Melissa Vandella according to some, knows how to keep the conversation going.  While her Glastonbury performance silenced any doubts about her musical talent, the question of her true identity, at least for some, remains a lingering internet mystery.

Continue Reading

Trending