Robots as journalists
He who writes, stays! For a long time, the idea was held that man could retain sovereignty over the word and thus his secure job. Natural language was believed to be a barrier to artificial intelligence.
Wrong! In the field of language, of all things, our artificial colleagues achieve disturbing results!
Today, some editorial offices, such as the Los Angeles Times, Forbes and Associated Press, already employ robot journalists. At present, these programmes present results from business and sport in short articles and thus provide real benefits.
The artificial journalists can react quickly to events.
For example, they can report on an earthquake. This is what happened in California in March 2014 on the Los Angeles Times website. An article of about 20 lines provided comprehensive information: location of the epicentre, strength, time and comparison with recent earth tremors. The authoring program used raw data from the U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Notification Service. The journalist robot was designed by Ken Schwencke, a journalist who can also program.
A robot for the boring writing jobs?
Whether the artificial talents destroy jobs of journalists is controversial: Translating numerical facts into an article is generally considered a boring job and could not be done better by one person. What an advantage if you can not only write, but also program – like Ken. But real storytelling – that is still a privilege of the human pen, isn’t it? one wonders. Another mistake!
Storytelling like Joanne K. Rowling
Botnik is the name of the community of New York authors, artists and developers who use machines to create content on and from the Internet.
The team has developed software that analyzes entire text bodies for sentence structure and style and transforms them into new complete sentences.
Botnik’s robot writers wrote an almost three-page Harry Potter chapter called “The Handsome One”, after which he read all the volumes. However, the text should not – yet – make sense and read more like the work of a lover of Dadaism under the influence of drugs. Which may be an incentive for some readers: this meaningless text is said to have been enjoyed by numerous customers.
It’s reassuring that futurologist Bernd Flessner assumes that it will be quite some time before an artificial intelligence can write coherent texts.
When I think about all this while my radio is on, I inevitably ask myself: Have song lyrics often been written by a robot songwriter?