I can certainly comprehend the teeth gnashing which followed the AP’s story that they intend to begin using robot writers to publish virtually all U.S. corporate and business earnings stories. Bots appear to draw out the Luddite in us all. The thing I can’t seem to comprehend is the reason why anybody outside a handful of of people would desire to preserve the jobs which will inevitably be lost to this particular new type of automation.
In truth, the AP says there won’t be any jobs eliminated. “This is about using technology to free journalists to do more journalism and less data processing, not about eliminating jobs,” said Lou Ferrara, VP and managing editor, via the AP blog. You better bet that robots will get rid of reporting jobs in the foreseeable future. Remember that machines replaced human typesetters. There’s a word for it, efficiency, and job reduction is the consequences, like it or not.
Most of the job impact would actually end up being felt abroad. This is the same place the menial work have previously migrated. Robot writers in India and also the Philippines should enhance their abilities to keep on getting work from American and European publishers. Newspaper writers in home based offices will have to up their skills also, and that is a positive thing.
What is not very good is protecting jobs which consume time and editors’ focus. In a recent assignment, I worked alongside a tech news website which uses a small staff of experienced writers but that gets the majority of their articles coming from an overseas business which rewrites press announcements and news using other websites. The journalists that write this particular fish food earn about four cents per word, overpaid if you ask me.
Stories arrive filled with grammar errors, and lots are lacking basic facts and explanations. Expert editors invest several hours every day correcting these types of errors and trying to teach the writers, but it’s only wasted time simply because the majority of them don’t make it past a few months on the job in any case. These types of duties can be automated, and lots of them will be. The end result is going to be a higher quality of work for everybody associated.
Will the news stories that robot writers create end up being as good as the ones that human beings write? Who knows. The one thing that is absolutely certain is the quality of robot writers will improve as time passes. Just take a look at Google and how their algorithms have evolved over just the last few years.
The human writers that accept this movement will learn to make use of their metal and plastic sidekicks as researchers and fact-checkers. Robotics could eventually help to make journalism a more fulfilling occupation, however it will for sure cost jobs. The question is, do we want more convenience, more efficiency, more profits? I guess it all depends on who you ask.