As media companies sort through the ways artificial intelligence will impact their operations, BuzzFeed on Tuesday launched Botatouille, a personalized recipe generator powered by generative AI.
In addition to Botatouille, which BuzzFeed describes as, “the first AI-powered culinary companion” that suggests recipes based on factors like what you already have in your refrigerator, there’s also a chatbot feature that allows people to ask culinary questions while they cook, according to a press release from the company.
Botatouille, which doesn’t appear to be inspired by the Disney movie about the cartoon rat-chef, is part of a slew of AI-generated content like games and quizzes that BuzzFeed hopes will drive users back to their platform as the brand shut down its award-winning news division earlier this month. BuzzFeed, CEO Jonah Peretti told investors on 11 May, will “focus on making the Internet more fun”.
“Readers are sick of all the negative news in their social media feeds,” Peretti told investors. “They will increasingly want social media platforms to provide an escape where they can find entertainment, joy and fun.”
BuzzFeed had already told employees in January it had used AI to ‘enhance’ its content and quizzes.
Peretti announced the end of BuzzFeed News last month, a move that came after several rounds of deep cuts. The division had won a Pulitzer prize in 2021 for an investigation into China’s mass detention of Muslims.
Peretti cited a range of challenges, including the pandemic, declining stock market, a slowdown in digital advertising and changing audience habits.
The move was met with deep disappointment from the company’s staff, sharp criticisms of Peretti’s leadership with managing the company and arguments that the layoffs were another example of corporate leadership’s devaluation of workers and eagerness to embrace AI as a replacement for humans.
Other news sites that boomed during the 2010s, including Vice and Insider have also struggled as audiences and advertisers moved away from social media and towards video services such as YouTube and TikTok. Insider – formerly known as Business Insider – also announced it was making substantial job cuts the same week that Peretti announced the layoffs at BuzzFeed. After a wave of layoffs and cancelation of its flagship news program, on 15 May Vice media filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.
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