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A.I. Is the Future of Local Journalism

An important announcement about some new innovations coming to Hell Gate.

Get ready for Hell Ape A.I.

I wanted to write this update to Hell Gate readers to share some exciting new developments we have planned, which will in no way diminish the enjoyment and satisfaction you experience when consuming units of Hell Gate content.

One of the major responsibilities of a top-level manager at any company is finding ways to reduce costs. Historically, for journalism companies, the biggest cost is providing journalists with just enough food to keep them alive—and reporting.

Innovators have nibbled at the margins of this problem over recent decades: If you churn your reporters fast enough, you can spend less and replace your journalists before they die of malnourishment with fresh new journalists. Alternatively, if you only hire rich journalists, they'll be able to keep themselves supplied with calories even without an adequate salary.

But these are, at best, incremental stop-gaps. A permanent solution to this problem has remained elusive. Until, that is, today. 

I am proud to announce that starting next week, Hell Gate will begin experimenting with journalist-free journalism. How is this leap forward possible? Through the magic of "A.I." I had to look it up, too—A.I stands for "artificial intelligence," a technology named after Steven Spielberg's celebrated 2001 Haley Joel Osment biopic. Basically, A.I. is robots, is the way it was explained to me.

How did a local news start-up like Hell Gate get its hands on such sophisticated technology? Through a strategic partnership with Hell Apes Laboratories, our long-time partner in technological and journalistic innovation.

"Wait a minute," some of the old heads may be saying at this point. "I thought Hell Apes was a scam Hell Gate was running to raise money during the height of the NFT craze last year?" Okay: First of all, that was a long time ago, buddy, let it go. Second of all, some of y'all still don't get it: Hell Apes were never just about NFTs—they've always been about using technology, broadly, to reinvent journalism for the 21st century. Cool people understand this; losers don't. Are you a loser? I didn't think so.

The point is, with the collapse of crypto last year, Hell Apes Labs found itself with a problem: Massive banks of computers with petaflops of computing power, which had been running night and day to mine new Hell Apes in our recommissioned upstate power plants burning sustainably harvested brown coal, now stood mournfully idle.

How to keep those power plants burning in service of journalism? Hell Apes Labs had a bold plan: What if we used that computing power to create a virtual language model that could do journalism just like a real human journalist, except for free?

The idea was a stroke of genius, but the devil, as always, was in the details. Forgive a somewhat nerdy digression: To teach this virtual model how to write blogs, we had to train it on a very extensive body of writing already written by humans. There are challenges here—the legal regime governing whether you can steal other people's work, launder it through an algorithm, and call it your own remains regrettably unsettled. For this reason, Hell Apes thought it safest to train our model on writing by authors unlikely to sue us: 18th- and 19th-century English poets. To add a more contemporary flavor, we also fed the model untold terabytes of one of the liveliest corners of the internet: men's rights comment boards.

The result is a unique voice that we expect Hell Gate readers will come to trust and identify with. Stories written by our new proprietary A.I. will be denoted with a "Hell Ape" byline, but we're confident readers will find those stories bring the same incisive Hell Gate wit on which they have come to rely. A few sample headlines to whet your palate: "8 Signs Your Last Duchess Was Actually a Feminazi." "Look on My Works (the Elaborate Arrangement of Fishing Weights and Duct Tape With Which I Am Attempting to Permanently Lengthen My Hog) Ye Mighty and Despair." "Beware the Family Court and Shun the Frumious Custody Regime That Denies Children Access to Their Father Because of One Single Series of Regrettable Incidents."

We are debuting the Hell Apes byline next week because our management team needed to lay off our journalists by the start of August to offset the tax implications of our summer executive bonuses. However, the model will continue to evolve. We intend to give it more of a New York City focus in coming iterations by training the model on New York Nico videos and New York-based NPC influencer TikToks. In the meantime, unburdening ourselves of salary liabilities more than makes up for the licensing fees we're paying to Hell Apes, and it's my expectation that our readers will, like me, be unable to distinguish between journalism written by a human and journalism written by a technological marvel.

This is, without question, the future of journalism that people want. Perhaps in some parallel dimension there is a Hell Gate that is owned and run by journalists, that is funded by subscribers who value closely reported stories written by professional journalists who live in New York and know it well. This is not that universe. This, thankfully, is the Hell Apes universe. We love it here.

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