Posts tagged as: Internet

When robots write blogs...

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Thu Feb 23 13:32:20 2012.



Many years ago, my website (the one you’re reading now!) did not live on jeremyreimer.com, but a domain I registered called pegasus3d.com. (The Wayback machine has records dating back to May 1, 2001, but I think it was around earlier:
http://web.archive.org/web/20010501232114/http://www.pegasus3d.com

Why Pegasus3D? Well, I had recently taken a 3D animation course, and I had silly dreams about starting a one-person company to do animation. Pegasus was the name I used when I was a small child building Lego Space Ships to refer to my giant, world-sized flagship. (I had not seen the 1970’s Battlestar Galactica episode that introduced said ship, or maybe I had, it doesn’t really matter)

None of this matters. This isn’t the point of this post.

Years later I let the pegasus3d.com domain lapse, as I wanted to brand all my web stuff under my own name. I figured nobody would grab it, because why would you want such a silly domain name?

Well, I was wrong. Last month, somebody got it. Or, to be more accurate, some thing got it. Check it out:http://www.pegasus3d.com

It looks like a standard WordPress blog, right? Only look at the articles. They SEEM like standard, boring blog posts about--wait, what are they about again?

If you read them closely, they aren’t about anything! It’s just random text made to look like a blog post. Some computer is churning out articles filled with spam links. I suppose I should be glad that said robot isn’t posting on my blog with their random spam links, as many robots do. But it’s still somewhat disturbing. I may not blog a lot, and I may not use that domain any more, but it used to be full of content created by a human. Now it’s full of content created by a robot, hoping to be read by humans.

One wonders if they couldn’t cut us out of the loop altogether, and have robots read the robot blog posts. Hmm.

This sort of thing isn’t an isolated incident, either. Big name sites like Forbes.com are using far more sophisticated robots to write articles for them that they used to have to pay humans for: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/forbes-among-30-clients-using-computer-generated-stories-instead-of-writers_b47243

My friend Terry and I have talked before on our Knotty Geeks podcast about the book The Lights In The Tunnel, about how the future of our economy is a bunch of people with all the money and nobody having any jobs because they have first been outsourced, then replaced by computers. This is happening and there is little that any of us can do to stop it.

I’m not a Luddite: I don’t advocate smashing the computers in protest. The solution involves creating new types of jobs, ones that (for the moment at least) robots can’t handle. Beyond that, I have no idea what to do about this.

EDIT: Followup in 2013:

The robo-page is gone, but the site is now just a "parked" domain with the standard ugly Godaddy default crap inside it. I’m not sure if this is better or worse.

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About me

I'm a writer and a web developer. You may have read my articles at Ars Technica, where I write about the Amiga computer, video games such Starcraft, and the history of personal computing.

I write science fiction novels and short stories. You can read more about them here.

I'm also the creator of the rapid application development framework newLISP on Rockets, which powers this blog and a number of other sites.

I do a podcast with my friend Terry Palfrey called Knotty Geeks, where we focus on the 'big picture' impact of technology on our lives, with the two core themes being acceleration and convergence.

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