29 July 2015

Exterminate! Journos under attack from robots

Wired: Journalists, meet the competition

Journalists are at risk of losing their jobs to robots, which are being used by news companies to write articles.

Let that sink in for a moment, budding journalists.

The Associated Press is leading the way. For a while now it has been using software from a company called Automated Insights, which can interpret piles of data and file a readable report off the back of it. The technology, initially used to write up detailed business stories, is becoming increasingly advanced.

These robots (algorithms, technically, but that makes for a less arresting image) can file their copy in seconds. Studies have shown that they make fewer mistakes than humans and can still write with a human touch.

Despite this, Automated Insights insists that its robots are not putting traditional journalists at risk. But does everyone agree?

“The technology is moving extremely fast,” said Roberta Cohen, our lead tutor, on the first day of our course. “In your career, you're going to have to prove that you can do your job better than a robot.”

So basically we have to compete with robo reporters who make virtually no mistakes, never miss a deadline and write engaging copy without thinking about it. They have thick skin (literally) and don't even need a salary, or coffee and lunch breaks!

I know who I'd hire if I was an editor.

'Progress': This robot wants your job
To celebrate this dreadful news and keep our new artificial colleagues in check, I've updated Isaac Asimov's Laws of Robotics.

Isaac Asimov's Four Laws of Robotics (amended)

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

4 A robot must write catchy headlines, use keywords and always write for its readers.

5 A robot must always use good grammar and adhere to house style.

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