Home » AI Is Taking Over Journalism, A Major Technician Shortage, Beau And DT’s Trip To Germany: The Autopian Podcast

AI Is Taking Over Journalism, A Major Technician Shortage, Beau And DT’s Trip To Germany: The Autopian Podcast

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Jason, Beau, and David sit down for another episode of The Autopian Podcast to discuss IMPORTANT issues like automotive haikus and kittens. And also a chronic technician shortage and the encroachment of artificial intelligence on the car-ticles you read every day. Here, give it a listen.

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This episode of The Autopian Podcast begins with my discussion of Motor World, a car-themed hotel chain in Europe that basically allows you to sleep in an epic car museum. It’s incredible. We also discuss the idea of AI taking car journalists’ jobs, and whether media outlets should be required to disclose when something has been written by AI. Would you read a Project Cactus that never happened? This leads Beau to point out that AI can’t fix or modify a car, and that in the U.S. there’s a chronic technician shortage — something Beau would know lots about given that he employees literally hundreds of techs.

Beau also mentions his meeting with car designer Dr. Rainer Buchmann and his wife Katrin, both of whom run bb-Auto, an amazing Porsche tuning company. You should read all about the Buchmanns at Elfer Spot (translates to 11-er Spot, with 11-er being short for 911); it’s a great article.

Jason puts Beau and me to the test with his car-Haikus, and finally we discuss the RV that Beau shut down. It’s a diesel, manual, one-off made for the DuPont family!

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Image: Craigslist
Image: Craigslist

As Beau points out, though, half of the RV is horse stables, and that’s just a waste. We need living quarters! So the Autopian RV search continues.

That’s the end of the podcast. We do not discuss anything else. Nope, absolutely nothing at all. [Ed note: We definitely do! Definitely listen. – MH]

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Here4thecars
Here4thecars
10 months ago

I should think the obvious answer for an RV for the Autopian staff would be an old GMC motorhome.

Last edited 10 months ago by Here4thecars
Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
10 months ago
Reply to  Here4thecars

That, or an Oscar Mayer weinermobile. Either one.

Marlin May
Marlin May
10 months ago

Since my comment on the autopian yt channel disappeared, I guess you didn’t like the recommendation that you hit up the blastolene guys about an autopian worthy rv. Oh well.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
10 months ago

Since 97% of stuff written about cars is just pr I’d say ai will take over public relations.

By its nature true Journalism requires a human to seek real information and formulate coherent conclusions.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago
Reply to  Vanillasludge

I mean, public relations requires a WHOOOOOOLE lot of human-generated massaging to frame a piece of news in the best possible light. Calling the large-language models out at present “AI” is a disservice—they really just predict the text that the bot thinks will come next and spit out a vaguely coherent-sounding answer. There’s no way in hell a PR-oriented chatbot could take a real stinker of a news release like Dieselgate or the beige-era Chevy Malibu and release a statement that wouldn’t just inflame the situation more.

An LLM (I won’t call them “AI” for the same reason I won’t call Teslas “self-driving”) cannot think or form opinions, much less read the room as to how to deliver bad news softly, or even frame that bad news in a positive light. That requires human stuff: deep knowledge of an audience, highly-tuned social skills and sometimes, clever ways to avoid or make excuses for big questions.

As for blogs covering those bits of PR, the blogs I want to read on new products don’t just regurgitate what the public relations staff wrote—they put that New, Steaming Malibu Rental into the wider context. Context is another thing that a chatbot cannot deliver with the kind of nuance and relevance that a human can. It doesn’t feel the same visceral revulsion to the idea of a Corvette SUV as a human because it cannot feel. It’s incapable of drawing on past poor experiences with something like a numb electric steering box because it has no past experiences. It cannot pull from its active involvement in the overlanding community and knowledge of what really works out on the trails because it cannot do anything beyond predict some lines of text based on previous inputs. (Of note: as more chatbot-generated “hallucinations” get released into the datasets chatbots pull from, those chatbot outputs will only become less and less reliable. Garbage in, garbage out.)

You’d have to be a complete idiot if you work closely with this kind of stuff and still think a chatbot can replace any professional whose work relies on exploring the human connections to their subject matter and our collective emotional response to those things.

So, Jim Spanfeller. You’d have to be Jim Spanfeller. Jim Spanfeller is the dumbest human alive, and that’s saying something in the era of Elon’s Twitter.

(Sorry for the wall of text! I went off, I guess. And to be clear, the person I want to insult is ol’ Jimmy Spanfeller, not you. People outside the industry often don’t see all the human back-and-forth that goes into a PR statement or a good blog. People in the industry for as long as Jim’s been should damn well know better.)

Last edited 10 months ago by Stef Schrader
Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
10 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

First, let me say that I agree with your thesis entirely. The only caveat I would add, is that your definition of journalism assumes that the publisher’s goal, is content that is both substantive and unique. More and more these days, the publisher’s goal, is to entice a click, and only hold the reader’s attention long enough to inject their advertising payload into the reader’s consciousness. In this activity, large statistical models excel. So we consumers of journalistic content, when we are cruising the interwebnet for content, need to identify which thing we are dealing with quickly, or the interaction changes from communication and respect, into a host/parasite situation. The reason there are so many ad blockers for the various browsers now, is that the balance of journalistic content has leaned too heavily into the latter. But in fairness, this is because current intellectual property law of the internet allows large distributors to steal content from those who actually create it, and then send it out as if it were free. Consumers of that journalistic content, having now become used to what seems to be free stuff, are loath to pony up real dollars for real content, like The Autopian, when a machine can create a simulacrum substitute from some LLM Chatbot, and most people are satisfied with it. The publisher gets the ad revenue, and the reader gets all calories and no nutrition. The upshot, is that the jounalistic universe, which used to support almost an infinity of niche communities, gradually dies, through dilution and a desert of real content.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

It depends on the publishers, and I hope that the ones who pull this kind of cynical ad-laden garbage fall on their butts in due time. Lazy content is all over the internet, but who actually wants to read it? We’re already seeing how-tos generated by LLMs that get the subject matter completely wrong. I don’t think that’s satisfying to any of the end users they’re trying to trick into reading it.

At some point, people will lose faith in that kind of information online. Search engines will need to reconfigure their algorithms around the kind of sloppily written, inaccurate chatbot sludge, lest users flee their service because they can’t find the actual information they’re looking for. It’s already not unheard of for a site to get blacklisted for being spammy on Google or Facebook, for example. You can’t make an overly ad-reliant site profitable if no one sees it.

The smart thing in terms of getting reliable news out there seems to be to have multiple streams of revenue—not just a giant chumbox with a few paragraphs on it. User memberships, events, merch, sponsors, partnerships, and just enough ads to fill in the gaps, but not drive people away. Then if one source dips, there’s still others to fill in the gaps.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

Of course first the internet destroyed newspapers, and then convinced the world anyone who writes anything is a journalist. Now after years of reading crap we realize an AI can write the delusional stuff cheaper.
I hate to say it but loss of real journalism informing us of the real news is worse than an AI writing about cars..
During my 25 years in newspapers i said keep open communication with readers and avoid the free internet.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
10 months ago

AI is going to take away CAR DESIGN jobs, not just journalism. You can input the shittiest most awful doodles and it just spits out amazing renderings, in like 30 seconds. Decades of honing my skills, worthless overnight. I cannot believe it came for industrial/transportation design this quickly.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Will it, though? It still outputs some proper stinkers—gosh, just look at the Bustleton Auto feed.

Image-generating models might become a tool, but I think you’ll still need a human with knowledge of good design and an idea of what’s practical to build to sign off on the final product.

A. Barth
A. Barth
10 months ago

DT: “You should have seen the old house, oh my goodness…”

Can confirm. 🙂

Gubbin
Gubbin
10 months ago

Oh my gawd, that RV. I can just imagine the conversation with Dear Wife:
“Soooo… there’s the vintage Volvo I’m kinda interested in, but it’s in California.”
“Well if you really want it, it’s your money.”
“It’s over $12,000. But it’s kinda cool, you should see it.”
“What, it’s a Volvo, I mean unless it’s a P1800 or something, but you never were that much into cars.”
“Look, just check out the pictures.”
“…FOUR stalls? How soon can we fly down there?”

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
10 months ago

“So the Autopian RV search continues.”

This is still available:

https://eugene.craigslist.org/rvs/d/noti-pirate-bus-skoolie/7650452053.html

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Rem-arrrr-kable!

Last edited 10 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
10 months ago

It’s in driving condition and the sail doubles as a movie screen! What more could Beau possibly want?

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

BATTEN DOWN THE RUM, ME HEARTIES. AVAST! SWAB THE POOP DECK! Er, install the poop deck? I don’t know what’s going on with that bathroom, to be honest. Either way, this is absolutely the pirate/RV The Autopian deserves.

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