The New York Times tells how AI helpers and compiler bots are used in major US editions. They are called “modest assistants”, but they have more and more work amid massive layoffs of human journalists.
Robots reporters, unlike people, have more and more work. Recently the British Guardian published the first article written by the algorithm. And in the newsrooms of the largest US publications, the use of AI and bots is already a new standard. So, the reporters of Bloomberg, the largest financial news agency, use “robot assistance” in preparing a third of publications.
Numbers and speed
The New York Times notes that financial journalism is at the forefront. Three important prerequisites came together: the need to process a huge amount of data, to do it as quickly as possible, and also that building on quarterly reports is not a dream job for a human being.
Now Cyborg is doing this: the system instantly prepares the report, highlights the most important facts and figures and assembles them into an article. The robot does not get bored and does not make typos.
Bloomberg sees the AI helper as part of a competitive advantage: not only with Reuters, but also with hedge funds, where AI algorithms are increasingly being used to make investment decisions.
The practice is now so widespread that some companies prepare reports, trying to present them in a favorable light to the robot, and not to the person. And now the tutors of AI in Bloomberg teach the wards to identify such patterns and highlight important figures, rather than those that the authors of the report focus on the attention of the machine.
Routine texts are where the robots have already found themselves. For the Associated Press, the algorithm writes about the results of baseball matches in the lower leagues, for the Washington Post – about football, for the Los Angeles Times – about earthquakes.
One of the bosses of AR, Lisa Gibbs, assures that robots do not take away work, but relieve boredom: “Journalism is a creative work, where curiosity is important, the ability to tell stories, dig out [information] and urge the authorities to answer, critical thinking … this is what for our journalists must spend energy. ”
AR was one of the first to start mastering the technology, back in 2014, having entered into an agreement with Automated Insights. Now her robots generate billions of automatic messages per year. Most of them are about the same simple texts based on the cards of sports matches or messages from meteorological stations. But this is not the only scenario.
Another profile is the use of robots at the Washington Post, where an algorithm called Heliograf works. It has two main tasks. The first is to point reporters to anomalous data. For example, during the Olympic Games of 2016, all results that were 10% lower or higher than world records hit the editorial Slack. However, AR’s and Bloomberg’s software can mark the unusual numbers too.
However, Heliograf, as the head of WP’s strategic initiatives, Jeremy Gilbert says, helps the newspaper grow.
It was “pumped” in the region, for the development of which a person would need a lot of time – the search for local “hits”. “When entering a national or international market, you face the fact that a new audience will not be interested in a product,” explains Gilbert. The robot will point to topics that the editor in Washington may skip, considering it unimportant.
Side by side
AI changes the work of a journalist in the same way that the telephone did in its time: the field of information has expanded many times, and now you can get access to it instantly, says Fraco Marconi, head of research at the Wall Street Journal. He is confident that the AI will soon create a whole new class of tools to help the analyst journalist.
Tasks change every day. Recently, in the Wall Street Journal, the algorithms deciphered the interview, and now they identify the deep fakes.
In the New York Times, they say they will not trust robots to write articles, even if we are talking about dry news stories. However, the largest US newspaper already uses AI to personalize the mailing list, moderate comments, and also recognize images when digitizing a paper archive of a publication with more than a century and a half history.
Marconi is sure that the fundamental work of a journalist will not change. “Standards remain … Only technology is changing: today is AI, tomorrow is the blockchain, and in 10 years there will be something else.”