There is absolutely no chance that Sports Illustrated is the only mainstream media publication using AI-generated articles attributed to nonexistent individuals whose headshots are also AI-generated:
There was nothing in Drew Ortiz’s author biography at Sports Illustrated to suggest that he was anything other than human.
“Drew has spent much of his life outdoors, and is excited to guide you through his never-ending list of the best products to keep you from falling to the perils of nature,” it read. “Nowadays, there is rarely a weekend that goes by where Drew isn’t out camping, hiking, or just back on his parents’ farm.”
The only problem? Outside of Sports Illustrated, Drew Ortiz doesn’t seem to exist. He has no social media presence and no publishing history. And even more strangely, his profile photo on Sports Illustrated is for sale on a website that sells AI-generated headshots, where he’s described as “neutral white young-adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes.”
Ortiz isn’t the only AI-generated author published by Sports Illustrated, according to a person involved with the creation of the content who asked to be kept anonymous to protect them from professional repercussions.
“There’s a lot,” they told us of the fake authors. “I was like, what are they? This is ridiculous. This person does not exist.”
“At the bottom [of the page] there would be a photo of a person and some fake description of them like, ‘oh, John lives in Houston, Texas. He loves yard games and hanging out with his dog, Sam.’ Stuff like that,” they continued. “It’s just crazy.”
The AI authors’ writing often sounds like it was written by an alien; one Ortiz article, for instance, warns that volleyball “can be a little tricky to get into, especially without an actual ball to practice with.”
According to a second person involved in the creation of the Sports Illustrated content who also asked to be kept anonymous, that’s because it’s not just the authors’ headshots that are AI-generated. At least some of the articles themselves, they said, were churned out using AI as well.
“The content is absolutely AI-generated,” the second source said, “no matter how much they say that it’s not.”
After we reached out with questions to the magazine’s publisher, The Arena Group, all the AI-generated authors disappeared from Sports Illustrated’s site without explanation…
The Arena Group is also hardly alone, either. As powerful generative AI tools have debuted over the past few years, many publishers have quickly attempted to use the tech to churn out monetizable content. In almost every case, though, these efforts to cut out human journalists have backfired embarrassingly.
We caught CNET and Bankrate, both owned by Red Ventures, publishing barely-disclosed AI content that was filled with factual mistakes and even plagiarism; in the ensuing storm of criticism, CNET issued corrections to more than half its AI-generated articles. G/O Media also published AI-generated material on its portfolio of sites, resulting in embarrassing bungles at Gizmodo and The A.V. Club. We caught BuzzFeed publishing slapdash AI-generated travel guides. And USA Today and other Gannett newspapers were busted publishing hilariously garbled AI-generated sports roundups that one of the company’s own sports journalists described as “embarrassing,” saying they “shouldn’t ever” have been published.Sports Illustrated Published Articles by Fake, AI-Generated Writers, FUTURISM, 27 November 2023
This is yet another reason why your standard assumption should be that every bit of news that is reported by the mainstream media is, at best, misleading, and and worst, outright fiction concocted by artificial intelligence that is attributed to people who don’t even exist.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how Peter King, the former Sports Illustrated NFL reporter, will react to this, especially given his recent two-week jihad against fabulist sideline reporter Charissa Thompson due to the way that he felt her fake halftime interviews called the legitimacy of the sports media into question.
The lesson, as always, is this: everything in Clown World is fake.