G/O Media, the parent company of Gizmodo, has opted to lay off the personnel of its Spanish-language version, Gizmodo en Español. Instead of human writers, the company has chosen to employ AI translations of English-language articles.
Response from Former Staff
Matías S. Zavia, a former writer for Gizmodo en Español, shared his thoughts on the matter, stating on X (formerly Twitter), “Hello friends. On Tuesday they shut down @GizmodoES to turn it into a translation self-publisher (an AI took my job, literally).” His post confirmed the layoffs that occurred on August 29.
Hola, amigos. El martes cerraron @GizmodoES para convertirlo en una autopublicación de traducciones (una IA me quitó el trabajo, literalmente).
Pronto empezaré a buscar un nuevo trabajo. Si conocéis una oferta acorde con mi experiencia de 13 años, agradeceré mucho la ayuda 🙏
— Matías S. Zavia (@matiass) August 31, 2023
Background on Gizmodo en Español
Gizmodo en Español was more than just a translation platform. It had a dedicated team that generated original content tailored specifically for its Spanish-speaking audience. Additionally, it translated articles from Gizmodo's English version. The site marked Gizmodo's initial foray into international markets in 2012 following its acquisition from Guanabee.
Challenges of AI Translation
The shift to AI translations has not been without difficulties. Some readers have noticed on social media platforms that certain articles commence in Spanish but abruptly switch to English midway through. This suggests potential glitches in the AI translation system. Additionally, newly published articles on Gizmodo en Español now include a disclaimer indicating that the content has been automatically translated, and due to the intricacies of machine translation, minor discrepancies may occur.
Broader Implications in the Media Industry
G/O Media's decision reflects a prevailing trend in the media sector. Many companies are exploring AI tools to boost content production while reducing labor costs. However, this approach has not been without controversy. Earlier in the summer, Gizmodo began publishing AI-generated articles in English without notifying its editorial team. These articles were found to contain several factual errors, leading to criticism from the Gizmodo union, which condemned the practice as unethical.
Concerns Regarding AI Translation Quality
While AI translation technology has advanced significantly over the years, experts maintain that it cannot entirely replace human translators. Issues like subtle errors, mistranslations, and a lack of cultural understanding can compromise the quality of machine-translated content. For example, an AI-authored article for Microsoft recently mistakenly promoted a Canadian Food Bank as a top tourist destination, misinterpreting the original content from the Food Bank's official website.