Creative professions were once thought to be immune to being optimised by the AI technologies, but it is no longer the case. In the same manner as concept artists from film studios and video-game companies are using Nvidia’s GauGAN, or “AI paintbrush”, news outlets and journalists are using “AI ink”.
The progress is unstoppable, believes chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who calls himself “the first knowledge worker whose job was threatened by a machine”, claiming that humanity will lose 96% jobs to machines in future, presumably including the area of journalism.
At first, AI algorithms started to work hand by hand with humans, helping with editing, fact checking, or information gathering, but now AI can also create news and general content without any help from humans. New kind of AI technology opens new doors for journalism. For example, AI algorithm Scheherazade do not rely on “a priori defined domain models about fictional worlds” like characters, their actions, or places, but create stories “in an unknown domain”.
When AI is the right hand of a journalist
As early as in 2015, The New York Times implemented the AI project Editor tasked to assist journalists with editing, and fact checking.The mundane job of editing comments to articles has been also already delegated to AI at The New York Times. This year MIT researchers are coming close to delegate all Wikipedia editing jobs to AI, freeing thousands of volunteers, who spend currently hours on manual editing, rewriting, and updating Wikipedia articles.
AI helps to gather data and visualize it in real time. In 2018, UK broadcast SkyNews employed AI to identify celebrities and nobility, during the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding broadcast. Investigative journalist at Mauritius Leaks benefited from Quartz AI Studio that created the machine algorithm to analyse tax evading schemes. And during the current coronavirus outbreak, all journalists have access to HealthMap AI-generated real-time data updates on the virus spread around the world.
AI also assists news outlets with strengthening audience loyalty and marketing. For example, AI tool Parse.ly Currents helps to identify the most engaging topics for the editor to choose. Swiss editorial team of the German news outlet Neue Zürcher Zeitung employed AI to accelerate subscription sales. Data analysts at South China Morning Post created an AI algorithm to predict customer loyalty and to optimize marketing campaigns.
When AI is working on the front line
With time AI switched from working alongside humans to creating all sorts of content by itself. As reported by Forbes, major outlets like Washington Post, Guardian, Bloomberg, Associated Press, and Reuters, are using AI-generated content.
Notably, in 2019 BBC News has managed what they call “the biggest test of machine-generated journalism”, by employing AI to broadcast election results in 700 articles, although at the time the publications were checked by human editors. Responding to the new demand in AI-generated content, this year The Economist editorial team supplemented their 2020 projections with AI input provided by GPT-2 system. AI oversaw “a lot of turbulence in the world economy”, which is the reality now.
The newest trend is even further – news outlets are creating “virtual” journalists that help to bring the news to the audience, threatening reporters’ jobs. In February Reuters has become the first news agency to use AI for sport video reporting: in collaboration with Synthesia, they have created a “virtual” presenter based on an actual human presenter, using AI technology, who delivers match summaries, “without any human scripting, editing or production”.
Future Time can not be behind new trends by definitions, and AI contributor Marat 3.0, digital avatar of famous gallerist Marat Guelman, has already joined Future Time team to report on news where technology meets art. More exciting news to follow. Stay tuned!