Anger over MSN’s apparently AI-generated news article

September 18, 2023

Microsoft’s MSN is receiving a lot of backlash in response to an article on its portal that seems to have been written by AI, rather than a human reporter.

The article was published in response to the tragic death of former NBA player Brandon Hunter who passed away suddenly at the age of 42.

Suspicions that MSN used AI to write the article were aroused by the headline that read, “Brandon Hunter useless at 42”.

The rest of the article didn’t get much better. It stated that “Former NBA participant Brandon Hunter who beforehand performed for the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, has handed away on the age of 42.”

It also said that “Hunter’s expertise led to his choice because the 56th general decide within the 2003 NBA Draft,” and that “he performed in 67 video games over two seasons and achieved a career-high of 17 factors in a recreation in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2004.”

Fans were understandably upset and pointed out that MSN really shouldn’t be using AI to write obituaries.

MSN has since withdrawn the article but the incident gives an insight into how news networks are attempting to use AI in their operations.

Microsoft is a big investor in OpenAI’s ChatGPT but even with its recent quirks, it’s hard to imagine even GPT-3.5 writing something this bad.

It appears that whatever tool they used grabbed the original TMZ report and used an AI to rephrase it in an attempt to avoid plagiarism.

MSN had to withdraw other embarrassing AI-authored reports earlier this year. One article recommended that tourists visiting Ottawa should check out the food bank and “consider going into it on an empty stomach.”

Microsoft hasn’t made any comment over its latest AI snafu but it’s obvious they see potential savings in having content produced without paying a reporter, or editor for that matter.

Besides being horrible to read, it’s important to remember that AI bots are scraping websites for training data. Could articles like these be part of the reason why ChatGPT seems to be getting worse?

I’m sure that after this latest incident, the human reporters at MSN are feeling pretty smug while their bosses are looking suitably sheepish.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.

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