Buzzfeed Has Begun Publishing Articles Generated by A.I.

Noor Al-Sibai and Jon Christian, Futurism:

Indeed, the first AI content BuzzFeed published — a series of quizzes that turned user input into customized responses — were an interesting experiment, avoiding many of the missteps that other publishers have made with the tech.

It doesn’t seem like that commitment to quality has held up, though. This month, we noticed that with none of the fanfare of Peretti’s multiple interviews about the quizzes, BuzzFeed quietly started publishing fully AI-generated articles that are produced by non-editorial staff — and they sound a lot like the content mill model that Peretti had promised to avoid.

The articles found by Al-Sibai and Christian are mostly tourism articles, and one is about Alberta. Not only is it generic, it reflects the kind of delusions held only by A.I. and writers who have not actually visited the destinations they are promoting. It is a five-item list of highlights, and the first three are about the Rocky Mountains, which are best accessible by flying into Calgary. The fourth item promises dinosaurs “everywhere you turn”, but that is only possible by visiting a museum about an hour and a half away, or a provincial park over two hours outside Calgary.

The fifth item is my favourite:

You thought Alberta was finished blowing your mind? Hold up, because we’re capping this list off with the ultimate light show. Head north to Wood Buffalo National Park, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch the aurora borealis painting the night sky. Grab a blanket, some hot chocolate, and get ready to be amazed.

Wood Buffalo National Park is a twelve hour drive away from Calgary. Want to fly? The nearest airport is in Fort Smith, in the Northwest Territories — which is not in Alberta, is serviced by one airline, and you cannot fly in during the winter.

Making a tourism guide for Alberta as a whole is a little bit like making a tourism guide for all of France, which is about the same size. At least France has trains. And, look, none of this has been about A.I. in the strictest sense, but it gave me a laugh.