A writer says he was laid off after a media company began using AI to translate articles: 'An AI took my job, literally'


A writer and editor says he was laid off from his job after a media company replaced his role with AI.

Gizmodo, an independent tech blog launched in 2002, laid off employees working on its Spanish-language site last week, The Verge reported. The site, Gizmodo en Español, now appears to be using AI to translate articles from English to Spanish.

Articles that appear on the Spanish site feature a disclaimer that reads: "This content has been automatically translated from the original material. Due to the nuances of machine translation, there may be slight differences. For the original version, click here."

One employee, Matías S. Zavia, took to X, formally known as Twitter, to comment on the decision. In a post asking for job opportunities, he said: "Hello friends. On Tuesday they shut down @GizmodoES to turn it into a translation self-publisher (an AI took my job, literally)."

Zavia did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

A representative for G/O Media, which operates Gizmodo, confirmed the decision affected some international staff.

They shared the memo sent to staff by Gizmodo's editorial director, which said, "Wednesday morning, G/O began publishing Gizmodo stories translated into Spanish using an automated system."

It added, "We are using an advanced translation service that provides context and intent while running the translations. This is the first step in our efforts to create local language editions of our journalism. In the coming months we'll see more of our brands published in additional languages. We're confident we'll be bringing new and expanding audiences to our sites. 

"There is a disclaimer explaining our approach and a link to the original article published beneath each translated story.  The stories are running without bylines."

GMG Union, represented by The Writers Guild of America, East, expressed sympathy for the laid-off workers.

In a post on X, they said: "Instead of relying on the talented journalists at Gizmodo Español, G/O Media has enacted an automation that takes English-language Gizmodo articles, translates them poorly into Spanish, and posts them on Gizmodo Español almost immediately, with no Spanish-language editing."

This is not the first time workers have complained of being traded in for new AI tech. Several workers have come forward in recent months claiming their jobs have been outsourced to generative AI products.

Companies have been keen to position themselves as on top of the generative AI boom and ready to incorporate it into everyday workflows. Some CEOs, including IBM boss Arvind Krishna, have been openly discussing plans to phase out some workers in favor of the technology.

The use of generative AI in the workplace can help with cost-saving and efficiency, but the tech is far from perfect. Several companies have faced issues after implementing the tech too quickly or without human oversight.

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