Watch Out, Journalists: Robots Are Coming For Your Jobs Too

The long arm of automation is reaching out into realms previously thought unconquerable by machines. The Associated Press is proving journalism to be another of those realms.

Here's a scary story for journalists, reporters, and (gulp) aggregating bloggers:


"Minutes after Apple released its record-breaking quarterly earnings this week, the Associated Press published (by way of CNBCYahoo, and others) "Apple tops Street 1Q forecasts." It's a story without a byline, or rather, without a human byline — a financial story written and published by an automated system well-versed in the AP Style Guide. The AP implemented the system six months ago and now publishes 3,000 such stories every quarter — and that number is poised to grow." [The Verge]

According to Ross Miller of The Verge, the AP partnered last year with a company called Automated Insights to compose all quarterly earnings reports. It seems simple—these stories are very formulaic, often just relaying information found in one document into an AP-approved format. So easy a robot can do it.

But just because these reports are getting automated doesn't mean journalists are out of work quite yet:

"Before this program was implemented, the AP estimates it was doing quarterly earnings coverage for about 300 companies. Now it automates 3,000 such reports each quarter. Of those, 120 will have an added human touch, either by updating the original story or doing a separate follow-up piece. One such company is Apple; as Patterson notes, that automated Apple story freed up reporter Brandon Bailey to focus on this angled, more nuanced report contextualizing the company's earnings along with quotes from Apple executives. Others include Google, Coca-Cola, and American Airlines. 180 more are monitored to see if a follow-up is needed."

These stories about automated jobs always end the same way. I say something like, "We're still quite a ways away from seeing this on a broader scale so [insert occupation here] can breathe a little easier... for now."

So, fittingly, I'll end with this: We're still quite a ways away from seeing automated journalism on a broader, more inquisitive scale, so journalists can breathe a little easier... for now.

Read more at The Verge.

Photo credit: kret87 / Shutterstock

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