The Rise of the Robot Journalists


In mid-2014, Elon University and the Pew Internet Project released a survey of tech experts, who suggested pretty much en masse that robots will eventually take over many of the jobs currently performed by human beings, including factory work and many driving tasks.

You can add “journalism” to that list, with some caveats. The Associated Press now relies on automated software from Automated Insights to generate thousands of articles per quarter, all of them focused on companies’ quarterly earnings reports. That sort of financial writing is straightforward (“X company reported net income of Y for the fourth quarter… X company posted revenue of Y for the period, topping Street forecasts”), making it easier for an automated system to handle than, say, investigative reporting.

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The Associated Press claims that the Automated Insights software writes stories with fewer errors than human journalists, but AP reportedly hasn’t cut any jobs as a result of the automation. Indeed, the news service argues that giving rote financial reporting to a machine has freed up reporters to tackle “high-level reporting.” Ink-stained wretches of the world, your jobs are (probably) safe for the time being.

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