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Spam, junk... and slop? Zoomers have coined a new word for "AI garbage" on the Internet

Spam, junk... and slop? Zoomers have coined a new word for "AI garbage" on the Internet
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The literal translation of the word "slop" is garbage, and that's how they suggest calling the invasion of unwanted works of artificial intelligence on the Internet.

Slop mainly functions to create the visibility of content, generate advertising revenue, and direct attention from search engines to specific sites.

A photo of Pope Francis in a stylish Balenciaga puffer jacket, generated by Midjourney, has become one of the best neural memes.

We are talking not only about media but also about textual "creativity." Thanks to artificial intelligence, an endless amount of images and stories can be created for any query, and then artificial comments can be added. If a few users visit the site and click on the ads a couple of times, the costs of creating them will pay off. But, as with spam, the overall effect of slop is negative: the wasted time and effort of users who will try to find what they really need among the garbage.

"I think coming up with a name is really important because it gives people a way to talk about the problem," says developer Simon Willis, one of the early supporters of the term "slop." "Before the term 'spam' became common, not everyone understood that unwanted advertising messages were bad behavior. I hope that 'slop' will have the same impact and help people understand that creating and publishing unverified AI-generated content is bad."

Willis referred to the controversial article by Microsoft created by AI about the Ottawa food bank, which was listed as a landmark of the Canadian capital. Among other examples are books created by AI (such as amateur mycologists advising against thematic books on Amazon potentially containing harmful advice that could lead someone to eat a deadly mushroom).

You may have come across a stunning photo of the "Hollywood Mountain" in California, taken from a bird's eye view on Facebook or BlueSky? It turns out it is completely generated by artificial intelligence - moreover, even places with such names do not exist.

It is worth mentioning Facebook separately, which already had moderation problems and has sunk into "slop" with the rise of AI. Earlier, we wrote about the viral photo of the "Hollywood Mountain" in California, where tourists really wanted to visit, but it turned out to be fake, and this list has now been supplemented with rather strange creations (actually, similar to my regular dream) — for example, images of Jesus Christ with shrimp instead of limbs and the like.

"Shrimp Jesus" is an example of amazing art created by artificial intelligence, which is now spreading on Facebook.

Jason Kebler from the technical news site 404 Media believes that this trend represents what he calls the "zombie internet." The proliferation of slop, in his opinion, has turned social networks into spaces without social connections with a "mixture of bots, people, and accounts that once belonged to people."

Meta's President for Global Affairs Nick Clegg wrote in February that the social network is training its systems to identify AI-generated content.

"As the line between human and synthetic content becomes blurred, people want to know where the boundary lies," he wrote.

At the same time, the Meta AI chatbot joined a parenting group on Facebook, saying that it also has a child, and a special one at that, and shared advice on education and specialized programs.

Fighting spam in email inboxes has required significant cross-industry efforts and has led to fundamental changes in the nature of modern email - major providers, such as Gmail, aggressively track spammers and employ complex, largely proprietary artificial intelligence systems. As for slop, the future is less bright - Google announced ambitious plans last week to add AI-generated results to the top of search (initially in the U.S., and within a year in other countries).

Based on materials from The Guardian

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