(One) Problem with Artificial Intelligence and Writing

Back in October, I wrote a post about how artificial intelligence has started to be used for art. Paintings. Writing. And at the time, I really only thought of it from that stance. Would AI ever be used to write books? Could it ever write a good book? I was doubtful about that, though I recognized it might be an issue in the future.

However, I failed to think about it from the angle of writing web pages on a massive scale. And that’s actually a real problem.

People make money off websites by ad sales. The more views a site gets, the more money the site makes. The more pages a site has, the more views that site will garnish, plain and simple. And so if you want to make money, you’re incentivized to have as many pages as possible. But what if you can automate the process? Set up an AI to write pages about anything and then post them online? Suddenly, you can churn through thousands of pages a day, and (theoretically) you can start making all the money.

If one person does this, that’s quite annoying. Someone just spewing poorly written articles into the ether. But if many people do this? That becomes seriously problematic. Remember when telemarketers were just a general annoyance? Think of how many spam calls you started to get as soon as those telemarketers could be replaced with robots? Think of how much spam you get in your inbox, since people can program computers to just send the same message out to countless people?

The internet is already glutted with information, much of it of questionable quality. That’s the result of lots of people writing lots of pages over the years. Now, if one person can tell a machine to write 1,000 articles a day, that’s 365,000 pages a year.

Our current search infrastructure isn’t set up to handle that kind of flood. Already, as I’ve searched for articles about simple things (how to do something in illustrator, for example), and I’ve been taken to pages that made me wonder if they’d been generated by AI. It’s already hard enough to find good information. It will be much more difficult with so much chaff out there.

What’s the solution? I’m not sure, but my gut says we’ll start seeing a swing away from using search engines as much, with people instead going to a few trusted sites they use for different topics. This is also problematic, since it will put more power into the hands of a few companies, who can then go on to abuse that power as they see fit, since the path for smaller companies or writers to challenge those behemoths will be more and more uphill.

Anyway. Food for thought. Have you already come across an article you think was done by AI? Do you think you will? I haven’t really talked to many people about this idea, and I’m interested to see if other people have different takes.

Thanks for reading!


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