AI(bot) Journalist appears to be a Plagiarist

The prominent tech news site CNET‘s attempt to pass off AI-written work keeps getting worse. First, the site was caught quietly publishing the machine learning-generated stories in the first place. Then the AI-generated content was found to be riddled with factual errors. Now, CNET‘s AI also appears to have been a serial plagiarist — of actual humans’ work…

Futurism found that a substantial number of errors had been slipping into the AI’s published work. CNET, a titan of tech journalism that sold for $1.8 billion back in 2008, responded by issuing a formidable correction and slapping a warning on all the bot’s prior work, alerting readers that the posts’ content was under factual review. Days later, its parent company Red Ventures announced in a series of internal meetings that it was temporarily pausing the AI-generated articles at CNET and various other properties including Bankrate, at least until the storm of negative press died down.

Now, a fresh development may make efforts to spin the program back up even more controversial for the embattled newsroom. In addition to those factual errors, a new Futurism investigation found extensive evidence that the CNET AI’s work has demonstrated deep structural and phrasing similarities to articles previously published elsewhere, without giving credit. In other words, it looks like the bot directly plagiarized the work of Red Ventures competitors, as well as human writers at Bankrate and even CNET itself.

I think we need some marching music, here and now. AI bots marching out of the office…and actual human writers coming in the door to produce real copy. Or…at a minimum…noting the differences between the two.

Doomsday Clock moves closer to world nuclear disaster

Tick, tick, tick…the world’s Doomsday Clock is the closest it’s ever been to forecasting global disaster.

The clock, published since 1945 by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and adjusted yearly, was reset at a Jan. 25 D.C. press conference to 90 seconds before midnight, compared to 100 seconds in early 2022. The farthest it’s ever been: 17 minutes to midnight after the Cold War ended.

The world is closer than ever, speakers said, to a modern Armageddon, though they didn’t use that loaded word. “The environment is both perilous and unstable,” warned Rachel Bronson, president of the Federation of Atomic Scientists, which publishes the Bulletin and sets the clock…

If the Doomsday Clock ever hits midnight, look for Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a worldwide scale. The federation has made that point often before, most notably in 2020, on the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the two Japanese cities, on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945…

Speakers again advocated de-escalating the nuclear arms race by abolishing the weapons through international agreements—an unlikely prospect since the U.S. has unilaterally canceled remaining important nuclear disarmament deals with Russia…

And buried deep in one paper adjoining the printed report was that the U.S. and Russia abrogated one major nuclear de-armament treaty almost a decade ago, and that the most important of those pacts expires in 2026. There have been no negotiations on its renewal, that paper reports. Instead, the U.S. and NATO have been placing nuclear weapons and vehicles capable of carrying them closer and closer to the borders of Russia, the second huge nuclear power. Russia has said it will not rule out the use of nuclear weapons to defend itself if forced.

Will the so-called leaders of the world finally demonstrate some of that “leadership” – on behalf of peace?

Wooden Ships

My favorite version. David Crosby, Graham Nash, Grace Slick. Doing nothing but making beautiful music together.

Yes, I remember moments like this in my life back in the day. Never wanted to work hard enough at it to find the big time. Singing with folks who wanted to hear the music, the words, feel the sound and emotion…was always enough. Even after I stopped.

We’re going to miss you, David.

Only in America

Just weeks after a 6-year-old shot his teacher, a gun trade show in Las Vegas is hosting a manufacturer promoting its “JR-15,” a child-size AR-15 rifle.

The JR-15 was first launched last year by gun manufacturer WEE1 Tactical. The launch sparked outrage as the company promoted the J.V. death machine with cartoon skulls and crossbones stylized as boys and girls. The presumed boy skull had a blonde mohawk and green pacifier, while the girl skull sported blonde pigtails and pink bows and a pink pacifier. Both cartoons had one eye patched with a rifle sight.

Truly demented symptom of American greed, society centered in violence.

Forest Green Rovers 1-0 Birmingham

It’s halftime – and I’m chuckling to myself. In Nailsworth, it’s clear and evening cold. Here in Santa Fe, we have an afternoon mix of fog, sleet and snow.

Must admit, I finally got round to reading up on Forest Green Rovers and their politics, ethos and style match a lot that is meaningful to me. Their electric hoarding even gets to flash “Give Fossil Fuels a Red Card!”

P.S. Birmingham won, 2 to 1

Insurers will fight to protect their Medicare fraud

This year, for the first time, a majority of seniors eligible for Medicare will be on privatized Medicare Advantage plans. Now, the insurance companies raking in giant profits from these for-profit plans are mounting a pressure campaign and planning to sue the government to protect years of overpayments they’ve extracted from Medicare…

What’s more, federal audits have found Medicare Advantage plans systematically overbilling the public — mostly by billing as if patients are sicker than they really are, a scheme known as “upcoding.” Officials estimate the private plans collected $650 million in overpayments from 2011 to 2013…

The Biden administration is expected to finalize a rule next month to try to recoup some of these overpayments — but Medicare Advantage insurers are threatening to sue if the rule moves forward as written, according to Stat News. If insurers sue, it could further delay the government’s efforts to claw back excess payments stretching back more than a decade, as well as future overpayments.

The health insurance industry argues that regulators should allow for some level of payment errors — and should only apply new rules to audits moving forward, instead of retroactively punishing past misconduct.

The stuffed shirts aren’t just worried about their golden goose finally being leaned and cooked. They believe they should be exempt from compensating taxpayers, subscribers, for their earlier thievery. Not a surprise. Not worth condoning either.

CNET Has Been Publishing AI-Written Articles for Months

CNET reporter Jackson Ryan published an article last month describing how ChatGPT, an AI that can generate human-sounding text, would affect journalists and the news industry…

“It definitely can’t do the job of a journalist,” Ryan wrote of ChatGPT. “To say so diminishes the act of journalism itself.”…

The article said ChatGPT isn’t coming for journalists’ jobs just yet, but the very publication that ran Ryan’s article has been quietly publishing articles written by AI since November, according to Futurism and online marketer Gael Breton. The AI-written CNET articles bear the byline CNET Money Staff which is identified on the outlet’s website as “AI Content published under this author byline is generated using automation technology.”

CNET responded in a linked statement via email, saying the Money editorial team was trying out the technology “to see if there’s a pragmatic use case for an AI assist on basic explainers around financial services topics.”

I always love the corporate use of “pragmatic”. Usually means “have we been caught at it – or not?”

Personally, I have no beef with use of technology advancing journalism or anything else. Just don’t try to smuggle it past consumers

Some say…”Electric Vehicles are bringing out the worst in us”

American car executives keep insisting that there is no trade-off between saving the planet and having a hell of a good time behind the wheel. “What I find particularly gratifying,” Ford’s executive chair, Bill Ford, said in April as he unveiled his company’s new electric truck, “is not only is this a green F-150, but it’s a better F-150 … You’re actually gaining things that the internal combustion engine doesn’t have.” Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, sounded equally bullish in a recent social-media post: “Once you’ve experienced an [electric vehicle] and all it has to offer—the torque, handling, performance, capability—you’re in.”

The pitch is enticing, but it raises a few questions. Is the electric F-150 Lightning “better” than the conventional F-150 if its added weight and size deepen the country’s road-safety crisis? And how, exactly, are electric-vehicle drivers going to use the extra power that companies are handing them?…

Converting the transportation system from fossil fuels to electricity is essential to addressing climate change. But automakers’ focus on large, battery-powered SUVs and trucks reinforces a destructive American desire to drive something bigger, faster, and heavier than everyone else.

And that question raised in conjunction with what smallish discussion there is among American consumers about battery-electric cars…sounds like, feels like, every discussion I’ve wandered into about more power, different power methods, in the last seventy years of my life. Not that the discussion originated with me. That just covers the time on this wee planet I’ve spent as a car nut, a hot rodder, sports car jockey and rally car navigator.

I honestly feel it’s over-emphasized in the article. Excepting me, my immediate and even somewhat-extended portions of our family are fairly representative consumers of automotive gear. Most of our vehicles are US-made cars and pickup trucks. They already include a few hybrids…usually driven as designed with a significant portion of all driving done on electric power. We can announce our “gas mileage” is 50 or 70 or 90 miles per gallon (today, in fact) when we’re out running errands to town in my wife’s Ford Maverick Hybrid.

What I see of the folks in our small community driving hybrids from the host of brands already midway to full-electric commitment, our driving styles haven’t changed a jot from prior. The same holds true of the few Teslas in the neighborhood. Aside from that subtly different nose, that crew is mostly identifiable by the sudden sprouting of solar panels atop their garages.