Saturday, March 4, 2017

Robot journalism making inroads

The news media have been rife with stories about how jobs will be lost to artificial intelligence, automation and robotics in the years ahead. Some jobs like repetitious factory work and cashiers are more vulnerable to technology takeover than others. Even journalism is being impacted by automation.
Information technology companies have come up with software to automatically generate news articles from data sets. For instance, computer programs can evaluate a baseball box score and format a decent story based on the margin of victory, key at-bats, pitching statistics and other details.
The same tech companies can quickly produce stories on public company quarterly corporate earnings reports. The computer program compares the actual numbers to consensus estimates from Wall Street analysts to see whether a company beat or missed quarterly forecasts and guidance. (See “How AP Automates Earnings Stories.”)
Companies involved in automated journalism include Automated Insights, Narrative Science and CapitalCube.
For now, these robot journalism programs are not a threat to the jobs of human journalists. They allow news organizations to report on many more sporting events and corporate earnings than they would be able to with just their current flesh-and-blood writers.
But the existence of robot writers is a wake-up call to writers to be more creative and analytical in their articles to stay ahead of technology.

Photo: Toy robots by Flickr user Jeff, aka jeffedoe, of Manchester, U.K.

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