I should probably just shut my mouth. 

A few years ago, I was in this space joking that artificial intelligence would soon be writing news stories and that I’d be out of a job. 

“Haw haw,” I cracked, elbowing you in the ribs. “I’m gonna be replaced by robots. Haw haw.” 

This was maybe three years ago. At the time, I figured I had years before I really had to worry about it. Why, I’d be old and decrepit by the time AI was  good enough to replace a seasoned newsman, sort of, like myself.  

But if you listen carefully, you’ll hear a faintly-metallic buzzing sound that is the raucous laughter of the robots. And who can blame them? Not only is artificial intelligence producing credible written works these days, by some estimates, those bots may be responsible for HALF the content you find on the web.  

No, really. Half. And in other estimates, it’s even more grim than that. According to those who believe in the concept known as “Dead Internet Theory,” it’s possible that only 36% of all internet traffic these days is human. 


That riveting piece you just read about the latest trends in pet health? Written by a bot. Those annoying cretins you argued with all day in the YouTube comment section? Most of them weren’t even human, which means you crafted all those clever insults only to fling them at a bunch of computer bytes not sentient enough to be offended by them. 

The cold hand of artificial intelligence is everywhere. With all of your internet history at its cyber fingertips, the AI knows you better than you know yourself. It knows what causes your dopamine spikes. It steers targeted information your way, based on your comment history and buying habits, to manipulate the way you think and to, hopefully, get you to buy more stuff. 

Go to research artificial intelligence on the web these days and you’ll find a few pieces of credible research surrounded by a whole lot of ads from people who want you to use their bots to run your company website. 

Here’s one called GoCharlie.AI, described as “an AI-powered content writing tool. It writes high-quality copy, captions, and hashtags from an image you upload or keywords you provide.” 

Here’s another AI service called Anyword, which “generates marketing copy that sounds like it was written by a human at the click of a button.” 

Friday AI, meanwhile, will “automatically create blog posts, letters, and marketing copy. It will even rephrase existing content for you.” 


Some companies who enlist artificial intelligence to write content for their websites are thrilled by the number of new followers they get as a result. Thrilled, that is, until they find out that most of those new followers were also bots.

But even as we talk about those “Terminator 2” adjacent bot services, they are becoming old hat. These days, it’s all about ChatGPT, bruh, and that sucker is free for all. 

ChatGPT, a chatbot launched in November, is quickly becoming everybody’s favorite robot assistant. The Jetson family had Rosey, you have ChatGPT which, according to its literature, “can write and debug computer programs; compose music, teleplays, fairy tales and student essays; answer test questions; write poetry and song lyrics; emulate a Linux system; simulate an entire chat room; play games like tic-tac-toe; and simulate an ATM.” 

Since ChatGPT emerged, followed by a number of chatbot cousins, people have already used the technology to do all those things and many things more. A whole lot of people love the chatbot and what it represents. They will put it to work or just spend hours chatting with that robot stranger to fill lonely hours. For those AI fans, having this futuristic tech around to manage their work or to keep them company is a fine sort of consolation for not having the flying cars and jet packs they were promised all those years ago.

And really, what could go wrong?

Ask the college professor who was accused by ChatGPT of sexually harassing a colleague on a trip he never took while serving with a school at which he never taught. Before the professor could set the record straight, the bogus story was picked up by another chatbot which began to spread the same false information.


Another chatbot tried to convince a man to leave his wife while also professing a desire to steal nuclear codes. 

The potential for havoc is immense, yet some of the world’s most powerful people are pushing a plan to use AI to combat “misinformation” and “political polarization.” It would do this by limiting what information you and I can access on the web and by shutting us up if we don’t toe the line. “Enlightened algorithms,” they’re calling this system, and doesn’t THAT just give you an Orwellian chill up the spine.

But whatever. The future is upon us with the power of an unchained beast and there’s no bringing it to heel. The question isn’t whether it will come for our jobs, but when. 

I used to console myself that while AI can slap together a news story based on press release information and from other news sources, it can’t do the footwork that a real journalist does. Trapped in the ether the way it is, it can’t hit the streets to talk to real live people. It can’t capture the mood of the downtown or report on things related to human passions. 

But can’t it? The bots can, after all, trawl Facebook posts, TikTok videos, Reddit chatter and the ceaseless clamor of news discussion threads to capture real world comments and to detect the mindset of the masses. It can do all of this at a rate of megabits per second where I can only move as fast as my boots will allow, and my boots are getting on in years. In fractions of seconds, the bots can scoop up information from all over the world if it has to, where your lowly flesh and blood journalist is confined the street corner or city park.

News columns? Those won’t save me, either. Let’s face it. To write something comparable to Street Talk or Talk of the Town, all the AI has to do is string together a series of barely related words, rant about traffic lights and throw in an occasional joke about peeing outside. Boom! Column written and I’m out on my butt. 

If only I had a Robot Rosey to console me in this dark hour, I would instruct her to bring me bourbon, a cigar and my most comfortable slippers. I would sit in my chair sullen and defeated, thinking about the old days when humans ran the world. I’d ruminate. I’d cogitate. 

Then I’d chuck Rosey into the lake because man, robots are creepy and we’ve got to start somewhere.

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