Automated Insights, a robot-making company, is selling robots to the Associated Press to use for writing business stories, which until now has traditionally been the job of a paid reporter.
Associated Press Managing Editor Lou Ferrara said journalists shouldn’t worry about losing their jobs.
“If anything, we are doubling down on the journalism we will do around earnings reports and business coverage,” Ferrara said in a statement to Poynter.
According to Ferrara, AP has already been using “automation” for sports stories, so this is nothing new. In March, the Los Angeles Times used a robot to write up a brief on an earthquake only three minutes after it happened on an early Monday morning. That’s faster than any human reporter.
Popular Science explains the technology by reminding readers that stories written by robots are usually based off of data entry and aggregation.
“The most basic reports involve plugging numbers from a database into one of a few standard narratives,” Popular Science reported. “That said, automatically written stories don’t have to be too terrible to read. The biggest argument for robot journalism is that it frees human reporters to do the kind of deeper reporting only people can do.”
In a culture dictated by images and inclined to small bites of information, lengthier articles are being replaced by shorter blurbs stuffed with videos about the latest news. Print journalism is being overshadowed by online publications. Shorter, fact-oriented pieces are something robots can do well, and fast. This leaves human journalists with longer, more thoughtful dissertations on world events, which many readers skip over while searching for the quick update on “what happened.”
If robots start writing the stories that people are going to read, what’s the future of journalism? Ferrara claims not much will change.
“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.”
Matthew Ingram of Gigaom.com believes the future is good, and writes to reassure journalists:
“The harsh reality is that much of what appears in newspapers and on websites is not the kind of ground-breaking, investigative or analytical content most people think of when they hear the term ‘journalism.’ Some of it is pedestrian content about sporting events, earnings reports, news releases, calendar events, city council meetings and so on. Wouldn’t it be better if we could automate some of that and free up reporters to do other things?”