The Beltline: A collaboration with ChatGPT to produce a bit of content summarising boxing in 2023

By Elliot Worsell & ChatGPT

WRITE a positive column about boxing in 2023 to make everybody happy at Christmas.

ChatGPT: In 2023, boxing continues to captivate global audiences, showcasing the indomitable spirit of athletes who embody determination, discipline, and resilience. The sport’s ability to unite diverse communities through shared excitement and respect for skillful competition remains a source of inspiration and camaraderie worldwide.

Describe the ongoing Conor Benn situation.

ChatGPT: As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, Conor Benn is a British professional boxer. He is the son of former two-weight world champion Nigel Benn. Conor Benn competes in the welterweight division and has gained attention for his performances in the ring. For the latest information on Conor Benn’s career and achievements, I recommend checking recent sports news or official boxing sources.

Indeed. A good thing, too, that Boxing News, formed in 1909 and still upright and punching, remains on hand for when Artificial Intelligence (AI) fails to provide the answers we require. Never more important has it been than now, in fact, to have an established, trusted and long-serving publication to consult in times like these; times when we are told that due to the speed at which technology has advanced, and everybody has been granted a platform and a voice, the need for detail, focus and insight is no more.

Frankly, it could even be argued that this magazine, and others like it, represents the one remaining corner of sanity in an increasingly warped world. It is certainly the last place to which a boxing fan can turn when tired of reading tweets, or watching reaction videos, or fearing death by a thousand podcasts. For some, it has become less a magazine in the traditional sense and more a hot water bottle. It is a back massage. It is a colonic irrigation. You know that whenever touching its pages you are reading something that has been created by human beings, most of whom have been involved in the sport for many years, and you know, moreover, that it is curated by an Editor in Matt Christie as great as any this publication has seen; someone whose sagacity, if ever sacrificed, would for this historic brand signify castration, no chance of being reversed.

Sports Illustrated, another favourite of mine, was once similarly vital. That too is a publication steeped in history and with an earned reputation for quality writing and writers. It meant something to write for the magazine and it meant something if, as an athlete, they decided to write something about you. Even as a UK-based reader, if ever lucky enough to see the magazine in a shop, or supermarket, or (as was far more likely) an airport, it would for me be an instant purchase. A pricey one, yes, yet on account of the quality inside, which you knew was guaranteed, it always felt more like investing in a great sports book than a magazine you would read in an hour and throw away by the end of the week.

I was sad therefore, more so than shocked, to read a story last month published by Futurism, a science and technology title, which accused SI of using AI, or machine technology, to invent biographies for “journalists” creating content for their website. One such journalist, Drew Ortiz, “grew up in a farmhouse, surrounded by woods, fields and a creek,” according to SI, only Ortiz’s headshot, Futurism discovered, had been plucked from a website selling AI-generated photographs. Not only that, on this same website Ortiz, prior to SI’s glow up, was described as a “neutral white young-adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes”.

If that all sounds a little Blade Runner, so it should, and maybe the only saving grace at this point is the fact that it is still relatively easy to tell the difference between replicants and humans; at least, that is, if you know what you are looking at and still care about standards.

“Volleyball,” Ortiz – ahem – wrote, “is one of the most popular sports in the world, and for good reason. It’s fast-paced, has a high skill ceiling, and is generally an exciting sport to both play and watch. Even people who don’t watch sports can easily understand the intensity and skill required to play volleyball whenever they watch clips. There’s a reason why it’s been such a mainstay in modern sports to this day.”

Jake Paul and Tommy Fury fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Francois Nel/Getty Images)

When initially reading this story (the one regarding AI journalists, not the virtues of volleyball), for some reason I thought not about the future of journalism but instead the infiltration of influencers we have seen in boxing this year. Embraced, quite oddly, as trailblazers and marketing geniuses by those who should know better, we have, as one, allowed these men and women to enter our sport and then simply shrugged rather than react when they have denigrated it, either wittingly or unwittingly. Thinking only as far as the numbers they supposedly generate, we have forgotten all about standards and in turn redefined what it means to be called a “boxer” in 2023. We have, in other words, allowed fake boxers with fake bios and headshots to send the following message: punches are still punches, just as words are still words, regardless of how or by whom they are produced.

Which brings us back to Boxing News, a publication trying to maintain standards when everyone else seems desperate to lower them for reasons pertaining to either ease or greed. Reading our weekly Letters page, I am often reminded, relieved and rather encouraged that there are still fans, both of the sport and of the magazine, who value quality, yet it’s online we are told that nobody reads an article for longer than 47 seconds (meaning this column must be cut if it’s to be read) and that boxing fans don’t like big words (meaning “sagacity” must be sacrificed), as if this is something not to be challenged or improved but instead accepted; or, far worse, accommodated, indulged. That, again, is perhaps the lazy way to approach a sea change. It is also likely why content has come at the expense of quality and why the aim nowadays is to just “get something out there” whenever an incident occurs, caring not whether that “something” is true, insightful, or even remotely well-written.

Such basic, narrow-minded thinking leaves the door ajar, of course. It leaves it ajar not just for the Jake Pauls and KSIs of this world, but for Drew Ortiz, too. Because the truth is, as standards continue to plummet and boxing journalism amounts to an orgy of fans creating quick content which both panders to the lowest common denominator and makes promoters’ lives easier, soon we will have to start questioning what is real and what is not. That is nothing new when it comes to journalism, granted, yet whereas in the past scepticism would have meant doubting the truth of a story, the worry now, if quality becomes irrelevant, is that in the future even bylines will be under scrutiny.

What is Boxing News?

ChatGPT: Boxing News is a publication and online platform that covers news, updates, and analysis related to the sport of boxing. It provides information on upcoming fights, results, rankings, and features articles about boxers, events, and the boxing industry. If you have specific questions or topics you’d like to know more about, feel free to ask!

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