BuzzFeed writers react with a mix of disappointment and excitement at news that AI-generated content is coming to the website
- Some BuzzFeed writers told Insider that they are disappointed by the company's move to use AI for content.
- But one BuzzFeed staffer said that its an exciting development and that it won't replace jobs.
BuzzFeed announced last week that it will be using AI technology made by ChatGPT maker OpenAI to help generate quizzes and new forms of content.
The response from writers for the website was mixed.
Some told Insider that they are worried about how the AI will impact the quality of Buzzfeed's content. Another source was unfazed by the news, even excited by it.
One BuzzFeed writer — a contracted freelancer who requested anonymity in order to speak freely — told Insider that she was "hugely disappointed" to learn that BuzzFeed will be using the chat bot to make content, though she wasn't surprised since BuzzFeed laid off 12% of its workforce last December.
"It was clear things were only going to go downhill from there," she said.
The freelancer said that she doesn't think the AI will squeeze her out of her job. However, she's concerned that readers will stop engaging with BuzzFeed if they realize the articles aren't written by real people and feel the content is worse.
"My general thought process right now is it's less likely for me to lose the contract because of the AI installation itself and instead a worry that Buzzfeed itself will dissolve after losing all integrity and any remaining trust that existed once the AI articles begin popping up," she said.
Another BuzzFeeder who is on-staff told Insider that the adaptation of AI "is obviously a terrible move for all of BuzzFeed Inc's employees.
Like the freelancer, the BuzzFeed employee isn't afraid that the move will terminate her job. But she worries that the quality of BuzzFeed content will suffer as a result.
"The best thing about BuzzFeed and the part everyone has always gravitated towards is the personality-driven content and the connection it fosters with readers/viewers," the employee said. "If you take that away, I don't see how the quality and performance won't crash and burn."
But a second BuzzFeed staffer told Insider that she isn't worried that AI will replace writers at the company. In fact, she said that she is looking forward to the AI integration.
During an all-hands meeting Thursday, the second BuzzFeed staffer recalled hearing from CEO Jonah Peretti that AI — as of now — will only be used to generate new forms of quizzes where they will spit out different answers depending on the person. And this is content that only AI can produce, she recalled Peretti saying.
"I think the actual applications of how this will apply to new quiz formats is exciting," the second BuzzFeed staffer said.
A BuzzFeed spokesperson clarified to Insider that its AI tool will not be fully creating the quizzes. Rather, BuzzFeed staffers will be responsible for writing the quizzes and the AI will only be used to generate an infinite number of responses, they said.
It's all part of BuzzFeed's new strategy to "build the premier platform for AI-powered content" with the goal to "maximize the success" of its content creators in an effort to cut costs and stay financially afloat, according to an internal memo from CEO Jonah Peretti sent to BuzzFeed staff that was obtained by Insider.
'When you see this work in action, it is pretty amazing'
"Our work in AI-powered creativity is also off to a good start, and in 2023, you'll see AI inspired content move from an R&D stage to part of our core business," Peretti wrote in the memo.
In addition to generating new quiz formats, BuzzFeed's internal AI tool will also be used for "informing our brainstorming" and "personalizing our content for our audience," the memo said.
Amid a challenging economy, the rise of ChatGPT continues to spark debates on whether the impressive AI will replace writers and jobs. An internal AI tool has already been used by tech news site CNET which revealed that it has been using AI to write dozens of articles for months as part of an experiment.
However, CNET later announced that it is pausing its usage of AI to produce content after identifying multiple errors, such as incomplete company names and errors in basic math that required corrections.
Peretti told CNN that BuzzFeed will use AI responsibly.
"There's the CNET path, and then there is the path that BuzzFeed is focused on," Peretti told CNN. "One is about costs and volume of content, and one is about ability."
While the move to adapt AI like ChatGPT has irked some writers, investors are loving it. In fact, BuzzFeed's stock jumped to as high as 200% after the news was announced.
One concerned BuzzFeed staffer called the stock price jump "darkly hilarious."
"It just shows how the free market truly does not care about humans, whether consumers OR laborers, just the perception of growth and innovation," she said.
For now, BuzzFeed said that the AI tool will only be used by the quiz team starting in February and expressed excitement over its editorial possibilities.
"When you see this work in action, it is pretty amazing," Peretti said in the memo.
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