We live in an era of artificial intelligence and the automation of multiple processes. This technology is tightly integrated into almost all spheres of human activity. Already now, the AI independently writes articles, notes, posts and comments on social networks, it shows you only the news you are interested in and this is only the tip of the iceberg. As you have probably guessed, in this article, we will tell how technological progress affects the field of journalism.
Innovation in China
It is better to start with the news release of the Chinese Xinhua news agency. It is unlikely that you watched it, so take literally one minute of your life to watch this video, after which we will return to our today`s topic.
At first glance, this is a quite ordinary news release, but if to take a closer look, it is possible to notice something strange. The fact is that the news announcer, whose name is Xin Xiaomeng, is not a real person, but only a digital image that was generated by the program through deep machine learning. There is a lot of such “news announcers” in China, they all “work” for the good of the party and unconditionally distribute only those news that has been censored. For China, as for a country that in every way protects its citizens from “superfluous” news, such technology is worth its weight in gold.
Artificial intelligence and the world’s largest editions
In early 2019, the official website of the rather authoritative newspaper The Guardian published an article about political donations in Australia, which was authored by the experimental automated news system ReporterMate. This system can quickly analyze a huge data stream and then produce textual content. As a rule, there are not very many people who need to publish a huge number of articles in organizations that are engaged in news production. In this case, the “AI-journalist” can take on the routine monotonous work, thereby freeing up the time of people, which will allow them to engage in more creative tasks.
Just imagine, about a third of all content that is published on Bloomberg News is produced by artificial intelligence. The system, which is used in this publishing house called Cyborg. It is worth remarking that it produces a huge amount of material on the financial statements of companies every quarter. The algorithm processes the report immediately after its publication, and for a short period of time generates an article in which it indicates the most interesting facts and figures. This is a monotonous and boring work that professional journalists do not like to do, and the AI “is satisfied with everything”.
This automation system helps Bloomberg compete with its main rival, Reuters. The company is confident that fresh information publishing speed is very important, especially when it comes to financial markets. For this reason, the use of AI takes a leading position in this area.
Of course, the work of robots is still not perfect. For example, the algorithm may use data from a published financial report without prior verification. There have been cases when companies have published not entirely correct numbers, thereby embellishing their own achievements a little. The publisher Bloomberg staff is working on improvements its robot journalist so that it will not make such mistakes in the future.
Back in 2014, a major edition Associated Press (A.P.) acquired Automated Insights company. This startup specialized in developing software that can generate text. The product of the company Automated Insights could produce several million articles per year. If to think about this figure, it becomes a bit scary, as a living journalist with all his desire and persistence is not be able to write so much content in his entire life. After AI integration, A.P. began to publish not 1200, but 14,800 articles per year.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post, another major USA edition, also uses an automation system called Heliograf. Here, the AI demonstrated its skills in 2016, during the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, as well as in the US presidential elections. At this time, Heliograf generated a huge amount of news regarding these two rather large events.
The publication states that they also use this automation system in geo-targeting, that is, to display articles about local news only in certain regions.
In 2018, The Washington Post won the Global BIGGIES Awards competition in the category “Excellence in Use of Bots”.
The New York Times
As for the largest edition of the USA, The New York Times, its representatives claim that they are not yet ready to publish the articles generated by the robot. The company still uses AI, but not for producing content, but for moderating of comments, digitizing old articles, and personalizing newsletters.
It is believed that artificial intelligence can also be used in investigative journalism. The fact is that AI is able to quickly process a large amount of information, find patterns and anomalies that a person can miss. When a live journalist will work with this data, he will perform more creative and deductive work for a particular case disclosure.
Of course, due to the development of technology in the world, some professions are disappearing, and the media is no exception. For example, now there is not a single working operator of the linotype in the world, whereas earlier it was a very popular profession.
Based on the foregoing, it is still too early for the journalists to panic since artificial intelligence has no plans to leave them without work. Of course, the robots will increasingly integrate into the publishing business, but their direct “responsibilities” will be:
- automatic information processing;
- generation of simple content;
- the relevance of issuing articles based on the interests of the reader;
- mechanical translation from one language to another;
In any case, artificial intelligence is just a program that cannot work correctly without constant human supervision. To build a successful career as a journalist in the 21st century, it is necessary to master new tools, and not be afraid of them.
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