Tech Leader Pro podcast 2023 week 20, the Irish Times AI hoax

Published on 2023-05-19 by John Collins.

19th May 2023


  1. Last week, the Irish Times was duped into publishing an article on their website that was claimed to be at least partly generated with AI.
  2. The author who submitted the article used a fake name, and a profile picture generated with Dall-E 2, source:
  3. The article itself was at least partly-generated with Chat-GPT, but that's not the main point.
  4. The main point is that via a series of emails, the hoaxer managed to convince the editorial team of a major newspaper, the "paper of record" here in Ireland, to publish an opinion piece on their website from a contributor that did not exist.
  5. I won't discuss the content of the article itself, as it's identify politics which is boring to me, but you can find it on web archives if you are really interested:
  6. The Irish Times removed it after others pointed out their mistake on Twitter, and issued a standard apology from their editor:
  7. The reaction from the journalists is interesting: rather than focusing on this being a simple confidence trick, which only worked due to their bias being exploitable, instead they took the angle that AI was to blame. The Irish Times editor stated in their apology: "It has also underlined one of the challenges raised by generative AI for news organisations."
  8. In reality, this hoax would have worked equally well without any AI being used. Instead, this in a classic example of what hackers call "social engineering".
  9. "In the context of information security, social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. A type of confidence trick for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or system access, it differs from a traditional "con" in that it is often one of many steps in a more complex fraud scheme.[1] It has also been defined as "any act that influences a person to take an action that may or may not be in their best interests."", source:
  10. Rather than admitting they are biased and this bias was exploited by the hoaxer, instead they are deflecting towards AI as being the culprit.
  11. I will expect many more news organisations be to caught out in this way in the near future.
  12. What I am working on this week:
  13. Media I am enjoying this week:
    • "Silo" on Apple+
    • Currently reading: "Dune Messiah" by Frank Herbert, and "A Case of Conscience" by James Blish.


File details: 18.9 MB MP3, 13 mins 08 secs duration.

Title music is "Come 2gether" by Ooyy, licensed via


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