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Company cuts costs by replacing 60-strong writing team with AI

A hot potato: CEOs, bosses, and the those who make the technology love to assure people that artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace everyone’s jobs; it will merely augment them – working alongside humans to make life easier. Yet we keep hearing stories like the one about a writer whose employer fired his 60-person team and replaced them with an AI.

A writer using the pseudonym Benjamin Miller told the BBC that his company wanted to use AI to cut costs in early 2023. He led a team of more than 60 writers and editors who published blog posts and articles to promote a tech company that packages and resells data.

The new workflow involved feeding headlines into an AI model that would generate an outline based on the title. The writing team would then create articles based on these ideas, rather than coming up with their own, with Miller editing the final pieces.

That might sound like the definition of AI working alongside humans, but things inevitably changed.

It wasn’t long before bosses decided that ChatGPT should write the articles in their entirety, leading to most of Miller’s team being fired. Those who were left had the task of making the chatbot’s text sound more human-like.

Eventually, Miller was the only human employee left on the team. The task of making AI-generated content sound like it came from a human was down to him alone.

“All of a sudden I was just doing everyone’s job,” he said. “It was more editing than I had to do with human writers, but it was always the exact same kinds of edits. The real problem was it was just so repetitive and boring. It started to feel like I was the robot.”

Several months later, the company decided that not even Miller was needed. The ironic twist in the story is that the best work he could find was at a tech firm called Undetectable AI, which builds software to make AI writing harder to identify.

Miller’s final comment on the matter will likely resonated with those who believe in Dead Internet theory. “I contributed to a lot of the garbage that’s filling the internet and destroying it,” he said. “Nobody was even reading this stuff by the time I left because it’s just trash.”

Despite the hallucinations, questionable quality, and public anger at its use, more companies are using generative AI to replace humans. Very few positions are 100% safe, with everyone from software engineers and IT technicians to call center agents and administrators potentially at risk. It’s led to calls for a universal basic income to help alleviate the impact on society as a whole.

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