Sports Illustrated owner denies AI and fake writers, claims real sportsmanship in every story

Famed sports content publisher used artificial intelligence to write stories under fake author bylines, report claims.

Sports Illustrated owner denies AI and fake writers, claims real sportsmanship in every story
28 Nov 2023, 11:49 PM
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Futurism reported on Monday that Sport Illustrated had utilized artificial intelligence (AI) to generate articles, along with headshots and biographical details for fictional writers. According to the technology publication, information regarding these supposed authors mysteriously vanished from Sports Illustrated's website after Futurism reached out to The Arena Group. The Arena Group is a media company based in New York, which also owns other publishing brands like Men's Journal, Parade, and

In response to the situation, The Arena Group released a statement on their Twitter account.

According to a statement from The Arena Group, all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans, as confirmed by AdVon. However, it has come to light that AdVon had writers use pen names or pseudonyms in certain articles to protect their privacy, a practice that The Arena Group strongly condemns.

In response to this controversy, Sports Illustrated has decided to remove the articles produced by AdVon. The Arena Group is currently conducting an investigation, while Sports Illustrated has terminated its partnership with AdVon. CBS MoneyWatch reached out to The Arena Group for comment, but did not receive a response. Stephen Cannella, co-editor-in-chief of Sports Illustrated, also did not respond to an inquiry sent to his LinkedIn account.

Despite The Arena Group's denial of using AI to produce stories for Sports Illustrated, this controversy brings attention to the issue of how the media industry and other content producers should navigate the "lack of robust ethical guardrails" when it comes to utilizing this technology. Benjamin Lange, an AI ethicist and research group lead at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, emphasized the importance of journalistic ethics, which requires adherence to principles of honesty, trust, accuracy, and objectivity.

AI-Generated Articles Cause Controversy and Stock Plunge

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been responsible for a number of retractions by publishers and companies this year. One notable example occurred in January when CNET had to issue corrections for several AI-generated stories due to their high number of errors. Critics were quick to point out the inaccuracies in the articles.

In another incident, Microsoft was forced to remove a computer-generated travel guide from its website in August. Readers discovered that the guide recommended tourists visiting Ottawa, Canada, to go to a local food bank. This oversight caused embarrassment for the company.

The repercussions of these incidents are evident in the stock market. The Arena Group, a company listed on Nasdaq, experienced a significant drop in its shares on Tuesday. The stock plunged over 22% to $2.09 following a report by Futurism. The Arena Group, formerly known as TheMaven, underwent a rebranding in 2021 and is now led by Ross Levinsohn, the former CEO of Sports Illustrated. The company recently announced its merger with Bridge Media Networks, which produces various forms of content including news and sports.