Greetings human—I mean, hey, did you know that robots have learned how to write? And I don’t mean they can print out words that someone else wrote; they can now literally produce fact-based news writing all on their own, and the Associated Press will soon have them doing just that.
Poynter reports that the AP is planning to institute content-generation software called Automated Insights to create data-driven stories in the areas of business, finance, and sports, where such a thing would be most applicable. AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara said that the software will mean an increase in stories on business earnings reports from 300 human-created stories to 4,400 bot-generated ones in a given quarter.
So don’t try to Paul Bunyan the machines on this one, bloggers. You won’t stand a chance. (Plus the machines will probably get it all done with far fewer typos than teh average human.)
But wait! It’s not all bad news for journalists. The reason the AP wants to go ahead with this plan is for the specific type of news item that robots excel at putting together. If journalists have an autonomous program set up to tackle the boring stories that are just straight reporting of data, it means they’ll be freed up to write more in-depth pieces and offer their human insights, which is generally more fun for both the reader and the writer.
To that end, Ferrara stated that the new software won’t mean cutting jobs. In an AP Q&A on the subject, he wrote:
If anything, we are doubling down on the journalism we will do around earnings reports and business coverage.
Instead, our journalists will focus on reporting and writing stories about what the numbers mean and what gets said in earnings calls on the day of the release, identifying trends and finding exclusive stories we can publish at the time of the earnings reports.
So, maybe this journalism Skynet won’t be so bad after all. Now us nerd bloggers just need a version that can automate posting videos of Game of Thrones acted out by cats and artwork of reimagined Disney Princesses, and then we’ll have all the time in the world to focus on our pop culture references, living the good life, and finding the perfect GIFs to express our feelings in more editorial pieces.
- A 17-year-old Ph.D. student programming robots to learn from humans
- Japan already has full-on robot newsanchors
- Looks like robots won’t be replacing delivery men any time soon