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Friday, March 31, 2023

Navalny film “Debunk” partly written with AI, investigators claim

A “debunking” of the Oscar-winning documentary “Navalny,” released by US media outlet The Grayzone, was written in part by an AI text generator and references sources that do not exist, investigators have claimed.

On Sunday night, the film about the poisoning that nearly killed Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, and his imprisonment after his return to Moscow in 2021 won Best Documentary at the Oscars in Hollywood.

The documentary centers around an investigation by Bellingcat, a Dutch-based investigative journalism group founded in 2014. She investigates who poisoned Navalny with the nerve gas Novichok in August 2020. Navalny has accused the Kremlin of ordering the poisoning attempt.

On March 13, The Grayzone published a now-amended article by journalist Lucy Komisar entitled “Oscar-winning documentary ‘Navalny’ is full of misinformation.” The news agency was founded by American journalist Max Blumenthal and has been accused of publishing materials consistent with Russian propaganda.

Komisar suggested in her article that Navalny had already been unwell at the time of the poisoning and had a history of illness.

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins posted a lengthy Twitter thread on Tuesday, saying there were “some big issues with sourcing.” “Komisar’s research was aided by AI and not the intelligent kind,” he said.

Higgins claimed Komisar used the AI-assisted writing tool Writesonic when writing the article.

“Some of the links in the article are PDFs [that] Contain answers that appear to have been set by the author of the article for the AI-assisted writing tool Write Sonic, and in some cases are used as sources for claims in the article,” he wrote, providing an example of the article making claims about Navalny’s medical history to a Writesonic response to questions asked.

The article has fictitious “sources,” Higgins continued.

“The author has asked the AI ​​to provide links to the articles presented, but there are a few issues with these links. You can probably immediately tell what a 2014 is all about Guardian URL that mentions Navalny and Yulia Skripal in this example.”

Former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were hospitalized in 2018 after being attacked in a nerve agent attack in the British city of Salisbury.

The URL presented in the article “doesn’t actually exist,” Higgins said. “I also checked to see if the stories might be cited on different URLs, googled variations of the URL and did everything I could to find them, but they just don’t exist, in any of the cases where URLs were provided. “

Higgins explained that in the case of the claims about Navalny’s medical condition, there were no articles supporting the claim.

“The AI ​​seems to have just collated the answers from a number of different sources, many of which are highly dubious,” Higgins said.

He added: “It seems so @LucyKomisar relied on an AI writing tool for her research, which generated text based on AI-generated links that point to nowhere.”

Bellingcat’s Aric Toler said on Tuesday that the news outlet “published an article written in part by an AI tool that generated fake links/references/PDFs cited in the article.”

“One example is a 2014 Guardian article on the Navalny poisoning. Editors seem never to have realized that the article was citing sources fabricated by the AI,” Toler said tweeted.

The Grayzone has since amended the article.

“Editor’s Note: The Grayzone has amended this article by removing two claims that were incorrectly sourced in the article originally published by The Komisar Scoop and replacing one with an article published by Western-backed Russian opposition agency Meduza originates,” the newspaper said in a statement.

news week reached out to Lucy Komisar via email and Grayzone via his website for comment.

Do you have a tip on a world news story that news week should cover? Do you have a question about the Russia-Ukraine War? Let us know at worldnews@latestpagenews.com.

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