Is the Future of Journalism Automated?

I want a job when I graduate … but it’s not going to be writing related. Originally, my job was going to involve writing articles, reporting on sport or something of the like. Oh, how naive I was. You see, the growth of social media and the ease with which anyone can create and distribute content was already redefining journalism by 2010. It was and is a shifting industry. Everyone could be a journalist whether they studied it or not. But now, we are faced with a conundrum … redundancy. You might ask how workers in a creative field and an infinitely subjective industry like journalism can be put out of a job. These days everyone can report on any matter using platforms like Twitter which is a great source of instant and dynamic news. Reporting was a first-come first-served market. So how could all of these individuals be made redundant, these Johnny on the spot’s? Enter Skynet … I mean AI Journalism or Automated Journalism.

But what is Automated Journalism? It’s a thing that puts people out of jobs and steals money. Essentially. But for the sake of being logical, it is the process through which a computer program can accumulate and compile data into a narrative, which is done most of the time without human input. So, essentially the process involves this program delving into the internet and compiling many, many articles and cross referencing automatically through the hyperlinks present to create a complete and comprehensive finished article. It could also write essays for me at a much higher level, but apparently that’s cheating.

And if you are wondering, I am indeed a human because at this stage I’m making the assumption that robots or AI are not self-aware … hopefully … because that’s when Skynet happens.

You may be wondering why the technology is being developed. Alternatively, you might already understand capitalism, in which case you’re already resigned to your fate. The wealthy *cough* Rupert *cough* (well he’s pretty much dead anyways) want us replaced because it’s cheaper, therefore $$$$$$$$$.

Companies such as Associated Press, Forbes, New York Times, LA Times, The Washington Post and ProPublica have invested in the development of automated media and are already using it. The two main program developers are Narrative Insights and Automated Insights, who have produced software for the aforementioned companies. The usual articles are often those that can be considered objective reporting, like stating the facts. Examples of these are sports reports, business news and stock reports.
Sports events are often covered by this technology and the heavy data crunching involved in a sporting match is also done by AI. A blind study by Christer Clerwall in 2014 found that AI articles were more insightful and trustworthy, whereas sports articles written by real people were more enjoyable. In the numbers game, AI comes up trumps.

 

Author – Robot

WhoScored’s data crunching algorithm can be seen below … so many numbers. Everything thing on the football pitch is recorded and datafied to the extent that every pass attempted (short pass, long pass, lobbed pass, crosses, clearances etc etc etc) is noted and timeposted for each individual player. Additionally, every other element on the pitch: dribbles, shots, tackles and saves to name a few, is collated and used to determine a players match rating. One player’s match rating … exhausting

Us humans have some slight advantages over self-created robotic allies (enemies) after all, we can feel genuine emotion, which is said to be the one thing that AI can never replicate. But tbh watch Terminator 2, I’m pretty sure Arnie gets emotional …

*tears up*

 

Although, there are arguments in support of this software. Evgeny Morozov … says that it will contribute to the personalisation of the web with sites providing the same article in different manners for different people. He alleges that this software will be able to determine a reader’s skill level and as such may be more analytical and informative to some while leaning towards social gossip in an easy to read manner for others. It will also allow actual journalists the ability to focus on more pressing issues and writing proper investigative pieces.

 

You see, sci-fi films and TV have been warning us for years about the repercussions of developing technology capable of more than humanity. Moore’s law is an almighty example of the exponential growth that AI has associated with it. This growth has no ceiling. If it’s only beginning now, it’s going to continue.

 

Moore’s Law

 

the machines are still “learning” day by day how to write effectively – but it’s already good enough to replace the jobs once done by wire reporters
Tim Adams

SHIT

At the moment, this software is nowhere near being able to replicate human journalism, but it’s possible that in the very near future it will be able to. If it is already more efficient at producing data-based reports, what’s to stop it surpassing humans if AI can ever develop a personality? Humanity is blinded by hubris; we are becoming Icarus by being over ambitious and it may spell the end for us … eventually. Potentially. Allegedly. It’s all up in the air for the moment, but there is nothing I can do at this very moment to alter what is perceived to be the future of mankind, well journalism. Those who write for Buzzfeed are pretty much robots anyway. Harsh.

 

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