DigHum EURIDICE lecture: Gordon Burtch: “Generative AI Degrades Online Communities”

What is the impact of LLMs on online knowledge communities?

Online - see below
June 11, 2024 5:00 pm


“Generative artificial Intelligence technologies, especially large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, are revolutionizing information acquisition and content production across a variety of domains. These technologies have a significant potential to impact participation and content production in online knowledge communities. We provide initial evidence of this, analyzing data from Stack Overflow and Reddit developer communities between October 2021 and March 2023, documenting ChatGPT’s influence on user activity in the former. We observe significant declines in both website visits and question volumes at Stack Overflow, particularly around topics where ChatGPT excels. By contrast, activity in Reddit communities shows no evidence of decline, suggesting the importance of social fabric as a buffer against the community-degrading effects of LLMs. Finally, the decline in participation on Stack Overflow is found to be concentrated among newer users, indicating that more junior, less socially embedded users are particularly likely to exit.”

About the lecturer

Gordon Burtch is a Professor of Information Systems, and Fellow of the Digital Business Institute at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. His research, which focuses on the economic evaluation of information systems, employs empirical analyses rooted in econometrics and field experimentation to identify and quantify the drivers of individual participation in online social contexts.