With robots believed to have a place in every home by the early 2020s, according to Bill Gates and South Korean researchers, it’s no surprise that they’re making their way into creative fields, such as journalism.
Earlier this year, the Associated Press (AP) announced that they partnered with a company called Automated Insights in 2014 to create a program dedicated to creating stories from “big data,” or large data sets analyzed by a computer to reveal patterns and trends.
The program, Wordsmith, has helped AP produce business stories about corporate earnings and stock market performances. It has also helped AP produce about 4,300 stories per quarter, which is about 14 times more than the amount of articles produced by AP’s reporters and editors alone.
Basically, Wordsmith is a more “sophisticated” version of the program used to create spam messages – it’s an “automatic system well-versed in the AP Style Guide.” Its articles come across as a standard AP news piece, and it is estimated to be able to produce 2,000 articles per second if it has to.
Wordsmith works with large customers to create templates that the program will later fill in with data provided via spreadsheet or any other type of structured data – words, numbers, phrases, etc. Additionally, anyone can create their own template and place data on their own.
The technology is also used by Fox to auto-generate sports recaps that show up on its Big Ten Network sites, and Yahoo! uses similar technology to create custom fantasy sports reports for its users.
Although AP can use the program to automatically report on quarterly earnings for about 3,000 companies, it won’t be used for “hard news” stories since they typically require more thought and emotional involvement. However, many believe that it’ll be possible at one point, once the technology advances enough.
In the long run, transcription-type journalism can be taken over by sophisticated computer algorithms, but at the same time, the role of the editor will be reinvented: even robots would have to be fact checked.
Although skillsets may have to change, human journalists won’t have to worry about robots taking over their jobs.
By Amanda Delgado