If things keep progressing the way they are now, the answer to my question in the headline is most certainly “yes!”
Why do I have such confidence? Last summer, Forbes started using a new CMS, dubbed “Bertie.” This new AI-driven tool recommends article topics for Forbes massive contributor network based on their previous articles. It also serves up headlines based on the sentiment of the contributors’ pieces and images.
What’s more, Forbes is also testing a process where “Bertie” writes rough drafts of articles that the contributors can then simply edit and publish.
So, in reality, this is already happening.
From a productivity standpoint, this makes sense. And, it’s smart. Giving contributors new story ideas–pretty good idea. Making it more efficient to publish even more content on Forbes.com–I get it.
Forbes chief digital officer, Salah Zalatimo, even said the following in a recent Digiday article: “Anything we can do to make it easier and smarter to publish. That’s the loyalty we bring [our contributors.”
But, there’s the rub. “That’s the loyalty we bring our contributors.”
Forbes seems to be thinking about the wrong audience.
What about your readers, Mr. Zalatimo? Are you thinking about them?
Clearly not, if you’ve visited the Forbes site in the last five years. It’s full of annoying pop-ups and videos that are constantly bubbling up in the lower left-hand-corner. If “user experience” is the focus at Forbes, they’re doing a HORRIBLE job.
The focus on contributors is misguided, in my view. Making it more efficient to publish more content is OK, if your readers are interested in consuming said content. With Forbes as of late, I would say that remains to be seen.
There are other concerns, too. What about the fact that AI has its own inherent biases? This has been discussed at length recently.
Or, what about the fact that Bertie may end up serving up more ideas for articles too similar to previous works? That doesn’t necessarily encourage exploration of new topics. It doesn’t encourage diversity of thought. It doesn’t encourage NEW IDEAS.
Finally, if you’re a PR person, this has the potential to be disastrous. After all, you’re the ones pitching future story ideas to reporters and Forbes contributors every day! The moment tools like “Bertie” start doing that, it takes away value from what you provide to clients and your organizations. That’s a big problem!
Look, I know a lot of people will say this is a great idea. That it’s making contributors’ jobs easier. That Bertie is a great idea generator.
But, I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. In my mind, Forbes hasn’t exactly built up a ton of equity in my mind given their online user experience. So, I’m probably quicker than others to doubt them.
But, I also don’t love the fact that this whole process just encourages contributors to publish “more of the same.” That’s not what we need (or want) as readers. And, it’s certainly not a good thing for society, or the business world, as a whole.
What say you, Talking Points reader? I’d love to hear other opinions on this one.