All hell breaking loose.
The media landscape was rocked, yesterday, when it was revealed that Sports Illustrated had published stories using fake AI-generated writers. Our surf world, frankly, was less than surprised as Sports Illustrated’s owner, The Arena Group, also counts Surfer Magazine amongst its titles.
There is, of course, no need to re-acquaint with Emily Morgan who was introduced as Surfer’s new trending news writer soon after The Arena Group acquisition. She enjoyed spicy food, strong coffee walks with her dog and lived in the shadow of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains though was disappeared quickly after her quirky AI-styled verbiage was called out.
Our surf world is small, however, and her ripple didn’t spread beyond these shores.
The Sports Illustrated brouhaha, on the other hand, has exploded. Major news outlets are covering the story with Sports Illustrated’s own staff raging mad.
In a letter to ownership, the writers issued a public statement reading, “We, the workers of the SI Union, are horrified by a story on the site Futurism. If true, these practices violate everything we believe about journalism. We deplore being associated with something so disrespectful to our readers. We demand answers and transparency from [parent group] Arena Group management about what exactly has been published under the SI name. We demand the company adhere to basic journalistic standards, including not publishing computer-written stories by fake people.”
And yet, one of those Sports Illustrated “fake people” might have leaked into surfing. This morning a piece titled “Highlights: Hawaii’s Black Friday Swell Delivers Massive Surf On Maui” was published by “Jake Howard” who might be described as a “neutral white young-adult male with short blonde hair and blue eyes.”
“Seasoned big-wave surfers in Hawaii, from Kai Lenny to Mark Healey, all described the giant northwest swell that hit the Hawaiian Islands the day after Thanksgiving as unexpectedly big and power,” it began. “Forecast models indicated it was going to be big, but it’s always interesting when swell events like this exceed expectations.”
Suspect certainly and more work must be done to uncover whether this “Jake Howard” is real or simply a machine with cute dimples and eyes that melt even the coldest of hearts.
The yeoman’s labor of true, honest, human surf journalism.
More as the story develops.