For several years, some US and UK articles on MSN.com have been AI-generated. An experience that does not prevent Microsoft from always making mistakes. The latest: a tourist guide inviting readers to visit… a food bank.
There is a lot of talk about fears that journalists will be replaced by AI in the years to come. While many media are experimenting with this technology, Microsoft has been doing it for years with MSN.com, its news portal. That doesn’t stop him from making mistakes.
An MSN.com travel guide tells you to go to a food bank
He is the expert in new technologies Paris Marx who spotted an article posted on MSN.com. It was a tourist guide about the city of Ottawa in Canada that recommended readers to visit the local food bank, between the National War Memorial and an Ottawa Senators hockey game. Note that it is not explicitly stated that the text of this article was automatically generated. The author of the article is indicated as “Microsoft Travel” without further details.
Shortly after that, Microsoft pulled the article from MSN, but it can be found in full on the Wayback Machine. The description of the Ottawa Food Bank sounds surreal. It reads in particular: We see the impact of hunger on men, women and children every day, and how it can be a barrier to success. Since a good tourist guide isn’t just a list of places to visit, Microsoft’s AI offered some good advice: remember to come with an empty stomach “. It cannot be invented, it is generated with an AI.
A Microsoft executive named Jeff Jones told The Verge that ” this article has been removed and we are investigating how it got through our review process. For its part, the Ottawa Food Bank expressed itself through its communications manager Samantha Koziara: It goes without saying that this is not the type of message or story we would spread or wish to be included in. »
Microsoft, pioneer of journalistic AI
Several media outlets use or have used artificial intelligence to write content, such as BuzzFeed, Gizmodo, CNET, etc. However, these uses of AI date back at most to a few months. Microsoft, meanwhile, has been using this technology for years. Not to write articles, but to select them.
In 2020, the firm dismissed nearly 80 British and American journalists who selected content (cross-checking of information, relaying of articles) for MSN.com, in order to supply the portal with news. Since then, algorithms take care of it. This time, Microsoft is going a step further with AI-generated articles.
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