Sports Illustrated accused of publishing AI-written articles

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Sports Illustrated accused of publishing AI-written articles

Sports Illustrated deleted web articles after a report claimed they were generated by artificial intelligence and published under fake author names.

Tech publisher Futurism reported the issue after finding author headshots on an AI-generated image website.

The Sports Illustrated Union said staff were “horrified” and demanded “basic journalistic standards”.

The publisher’s owner disputed the report’s accuracy, but it said it had launched an internal investigation.

Arena Group, which owns the Sports Illustrated magazine and website, licensed the content from a third-party company, Advon Commerce, a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Sports Illustrated has since removed the content after the allegations were raised, the statement added. Arena Group is now pursuing an internal investigation and has ended its partnership with Advon Commerce.

Advon Commerce, an e-commerce company that works with retailers and publishers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Sports Illustrated Union said “these practices violate everything we believe in about journalism”.

“We demand the company commit to adhering to basic journalistic standards, including not publishing computer-written stories by fake people,” the union said on X.

Arena Group claimed that Advon Commerce had assured them “that all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans” and that the e-commerce firm regularly uses “counter-plagiarism and counter-AI software”.

The company alleged that AdVon Commerce had allowed its writers to use pseudonyms “in certain articles” to protect their privacy, however. That was why the AI-generated pictures were used and the author names cannot be found elsewhere on the internet.

This incident at Sports Illustrated comes as concern grows in the media world that generative artificial intelligence could cheaply replace journalists and potentially spread misinformation. Various newsrooms have experimented with AI or released guidelines for employees and audiences to explain their approach towards it.

Some newsrooms have made headlines, however, after publishing AI articles that included errors or falsehoods. Others gained attention for not marking stories as AI generated.

Numerous Sports Illustrated staff said on social media that they were appalled by the findings in Futurist’s report, particularly as Arena Group has made large cuts to staff in recent years.

Mitch Goldich, an editor at Sports Illustrated who leads the union, said the magazine had done “real damage to the credibility of the hardworking humans I have been honored to work with for the past 9 years”.

He changed his name on X to “Mitch Goldich (human)” to further emphasise the point.