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How artificial intelligence is slated to change journalism

deepmind, ai
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Artificial Intelligence is slated to change our world. Indeed, many might argue that we stand on the brink of a new age of renaissance. Except that this time the impact could be even more profound. Instead of an age that will bring about thing like mass production into fashion, we are looking at an age of robots, machines that need no instructions and that can predict and see to our desires.

Even as we speak, machines and artificial intelligence are becoming even more capable, doing things that used to be the sole domain of humans. However, would these systems really be able to breach all frontiers and cross the bridge of what makes us humans?

How do you differentiate between a robot and a human anyways. At the risk of venturing into philosophy, one might say that creativity, the ability to come up with something brand new and original is what sets the human race apart from machines, and indeed, despite all the advances that we have made, can a machine create poetry? Can artificial intelligence produce a fresh story? Can a robot, be a journalist?

At the risk of venturing into philosophy, one might say that creativity, the ability to come up with something brand new and original is what sets the human race apart from machine.
Last December, the Nomura Research Institute published a report in conjunction with the Oxford University. The report stated that within a decade, 49 percent of jobs in Japan, will be performed by an AI. This included jobs like security guards, Bank tellers, cleaners, assembly workers and so on. Among the jobs that were said to survive this culling, were doctors, critics, lawyers, photographers, writers and so on. Interestingly, the AI is taking the learning curve that would be taken by humans as well — unskilled jobs first, followed by skilled ones.

So writing is one of the jobs that have been listed as safe. And is journalism but not an extension of writing? Well, that may be true but it is no reason for us to preen our feathers and celebrate. Notwithstanding what the report says, robots are already encroaching upon journalism as well and given a few years, we might find ourselves changing our minds about whether or not they can replace human journalists. See, journalism is a job that requires skills like quick response time, creativity, the ability to sift through data and so on. An AI would arguably be better than a human at most of them.

For instance, the wordsmith software that has been developed by the Associated Press (AP), can automatically generate new stories pertaining to college sports. AP is also using the AI to generate quarterly earnings reports of corporations. And already, it is churning out up to 10 times the number of reports that human reporters were earlier generating.

So yeah, as robots get better, we can expect them to take over journalistic duties like preparing reports, press releases. On the other hand, jobs that require investigation, deep analysis like writing editorials, doing profile stories and so on — will remain the domain of humans, at least for a few decades.

It will be good for journalism in a way too, as reporters will be freed up from the more mundane, data crunching jobs and will be able to focus on the core creative aspect of their jobs.

In conclusion, we would like to draw you attention to a few attributes: such as curiosity, motivation, passion and a sense of justice. Ironically, jobs that require these human emotions, these human attributes, will remain free from encroachment by robots. However, even that won’t be perpetual. 

AP is also using AI to generate quarterly earnings reports of corporations. And already, it is churning out up to 10 times the number of reports that human reporters were earlier generating.

The thing with AI, and that sets them apart from all other machines and technologies in much the same way that humans are different from all other animals — is their ability to take up data, go through it and eventually get better.

A few decades down the line and systems that can mimic even these emotions — and maybe even generate them, who knows? — may come up. That will be the time when journalists might well have to start looking for other jobs. For now though, I think I will sit back, relax, sip some lemonade and think about what I can write next.

A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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