Leaked Messages Show How CNET’s Parent Company Really Sees AI-Generated Content

“Disclosing AI content is like telling the IRS you have a cash-only business.”

When prominent tech news site CNET was caught last month using AI to quietly publish dozens of articles, it produced widespread alarm. News readers learned in real time that the explosive new capabilities of software like OpenAI’s GPT-3 meant they could no longer trust CNET’s journalism to be produced by a human. It didn’t help when we discovered that the AI-generated articles were riddled with errors and substantially plagiarized, with CNET eventually issuing corrections on more than half the bot’s published pieces.

Now, leaked internal messages reveal that the negative headlines also kicked off deep concern inside CNET‘s parent company, Red Ventures.

But the consternation wasn’t about the ethics of providing readers with shoddy AI-generated misinformation. Instead, directors at the company expressed a profoundly cynical anxiety: that Google would notice the dismal quality of the AI’s work — and cut off the precious supply of search results that Red Ventures depends on for revenue.

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