Robots will soon be writing news stories for the U.K.’s Press Association
Why it matters to you
If you thought human journalists were too biased in their reporting, maybe robots will be better.
We rejoiced when automation meant the more efficient production of the Ford Model T. We applauded when artificial intelligence bested humans at games and trivia. We nodded solemnly as machines began to replace fast-food workers and supermarket cashiers. And now, we may not know exactly how to react as computers take over our jobs as news writers. Few jobs these days are truly safe from the rise of AI and the latest industry to be affected is journalism. Google awarded the Press Association (PA) news wire 706,000 Euros ($805,000) to fund a project known as “Reporters and Data and Robots” or RADAR that, as one might expect, involves robots writing no fewer than 30,000 stories for local media publications every month.
The Press Association is a national news agency and supplies publishes in both the U.K. and Ireland with content. It will partner with news startup Urbs Media for the robot project, with hopes of creating “a stream of compelling local stories for hundreds of media outlets.”
RADAR is slated to launch in 2018 and robots will depend upon open data sets on the internet to find stories, and use Language Generation (NLG) software to write them. The data sets, however, will be run by a team of five human writers and will be populated by information that comes from government departments, local authorities, NHS Trusts, and more. Ultimately, the goal is to meet an “increasing demand for consistent, fact-based insights into local communities” for regional media outlets, independent publishers, and small sits and blogs, according to PA.
But don’t worry, journalists. This isn’t to say that you will be left without a job. Rather, according to PA’s editor-in-chief Peter Clifton, human writers will still be responsible for pitching and writing stories — AI will just be there to lend a helping hand and up the levels of content. “Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process, but Radar allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually,” he told the Guardian. “It is a fantastic step forward for PA.”