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CNET Is Experimenting With an AI Assist. Here's Why

For over two decades, CNET has built our reputation testing new technologies and separating the hype from reality.

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Dipesh Dk/500px/Getty Images

There's been a lot of talk about AI engines and how they may or may not be used in newsrooms, newsletters, marketing and other information-based services in the coming months and years. Conversations about ChatGPT and other automated technology have raised many important questions about how information will be created and shared and whether the quality of the stories will prove useful to audiences.

We decided to do an experiment to answer that question for ourselves.

For over two decades, CNET has built our reputation testing new technologies and separating the hype from reality, from voice assistants to augmented reality to the metaverse.

In November, our CNET Money editorial team started trying out the tech to see if there's a pragmatic use case for an AI assist on basic explainers around financial services topics like What Is Compound Interest? and How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account. So far we've published about 75 such articles.

The goal: to see if the tech can help our busy staff of reporters and editors with their job to cover topics from a 360-degree perspective. Will this AI engine efficiently assist them in using publicly available facts to create the most helpful content so our audience can make better decisions? Will this enable them to create even more deeply researched stories, analyses, features, testing and advice work we're known for? 

I use the term "AI assist" because while the AI engine compiled the story draft or gathered some of the information in the story, every article on CNET – and we publish thousands of new and updated stories each month – is reviewed, fact-checked and edited by an editor with topical expertise before we hit publish. That will remain true as our policy no matter what tools or tech we use to create those stories. And per CNET policy, if we find any errors after we publish, we will publicly correct the story.

Our reputation as a fact-based, unbiased source of news and advice is based on being transparent about how we work and the sources we rely on. So in the past 24 hours, we've changed the byline to CNET Money and moved our disclosure so you won't need to hover over the byline to see it: "This story was assisted by an AI engine and reviewed, fact-checked and edited by our editorial staff." We always note who edited the story so our audience understands which expert influenced, shaped and fact-checked the article.

Will we make more changes and try new things as we continue to test, learn and understand the benefits and challenges of AI? Yes. 

In the meantime, CNET is the world's largest consumer tech news and advice site because our global audiences trust the stories that are assembled and curated by our knowledgeable, award-winning reporters and advice experts around the world. 

We can't speak to how other organizations are thinking of AI. Some are very transparent about how they're using AI to help with their information services, such as the Associated Press. We'll continue to assess these new tools as well to determine if they're right for our business. For now CNET is doing what we do best – testing a new technology so we can separate the hype from reality.

Thanks for reading.