thedailybell.com / By Staff Report / March 28, 2013
‘Robo-reporter’ computer program raises questions about future of journalists … Reporters may not look like this in the future, but one media outlet employs a robo-reporter — a program that compiles data into a pre-determined structure, then formats the information for publication. Journalist Ken Schwencke has occasionally awakened in the morning to find his byline atop a news story he didn’t write. No, it’s not that his employer, The Los Angeles Times, is accidentally putting his name atop other writers’ articles. Instead, it’s a reflection that Schwencke, digital editor at the respected U.S. newspaper, wrote an algorithm — that then wrote the story for him. – Vancouver Sun
Dominant Social Theme: Robots provide an efficient alternative to human scribes.
Free-Market Analysis: Here at the Daily Bell we’ve been carrying on a conversation with feedbackers over the advances of industrial robots – and subsequent investment and employment ramifications.
Now comes this article on robotics taking over reporting. Will reporters be put out of work? And more importantly, will the advent of journalistic robotics increase or decrease industry profitability and competence?
Our considered answer to the above questions would be a qualified no based on the current state of technology. Of course, if science provides us with robo-reporters that truly mimic human creative abilities then we might come to a different opinion.
But right now it seems these robotic programs are mostly being employed along the lines of aggregation. Factual articles are within their purview – obviously not editorials or human-interest features. Here’s more from the article:
Instead of personally composing the pieces, Schwencke developed a set of step-by-step instructions that can take a stream of data — this particular algorithm works with earthquake statistics, since he lives in California — compile the data into a pre-determined structure, then format it for publication.
His fingers never have to touch a keyboard; he doesn’t have to look at a computer screen. He can be sleeping soundly when the story writes itself.
Just call him robo-reporter.
Thanks to BrotherJohnF