Now A Robotic Reporter: A New Era In Journalism?

by Moumita Deb Choudhury    Jan 20, 2017

A Chinese robot has written and published its first newspaper article. You heard that right… we now have a robotic reporter. Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily published its first story written by a robot on Wednesday. This robot reporter had written a 300 characters-long article in just a second. The article is on the Spring Festival travel rush. Its author, Xiao Nan, took only a second to finish writing the piece and is able to write both short stories and longer reports, according to Wan Xiaojun, a professor at Peking University who leads the team studying and developing such robots.

“When compared with the staff reporters, Xiao Nan has a stronger data analysis capacity and is quicker at writing stories,” he said. “But it does not mean intelligent robots will soon be able to completely replace reporters,” Xiaojun was quoted as saying by ‘China Daily’.


Experiments like these are creating unease among the staff of the state-run media outlets, not only in China, but across the world as the many believe this could be a dawn of a new era in journalism and in the long-run, staff reporters in print and online might lose their jobs.

From telemarketing to accounting and from sports umpiring to news reporting; Robots are making their presence felt everywhere. The news comes only a week after a Japanese insurance company announced it replaced a chunk of its workforce with an artificial intelligence system. And now, recently, Infosys has “released” 8,000-9,000 employees in the past one year because of automation of lower-end jobs.

The company’s human resources head Krishnamurthy Shankar said. He said these employees are now working on more advanced projects. “We have been releasing about 2,000 people every quarter and also training them in special courses that will help them in their new assignments,” Shankar said on the sidelines of an event organised by the Bengaluru chapter of Global Shapers, a body backed by the World Economic Forum, reports ET.

Almost every major IT services company is investing heavily in automation of processes in their traditional businesses like BPO, application management and infrastructure management. Infosys added 5,700 people in the first nine months of this fiscal, compared to about 17,000 in the same period last year, as per the report. Clearly, robotics and automation are competing with humans more than complimenting them, or so it seems in the near future.If 2016 was about having pilot projects, 2017 will be about deployment of robotics in the commercial sector. The roll out of projects will take place on a larger scale, scaling of new projects will extensive, and benefits of the projects will closely watched and aggressively perused. Projects like the IBM Watson will take shape, and bring in new commercial applications of AI and automation with it. (click here to read more)

Read more: Collaborative Robots Are The Future For Tech Industry

Robots to replace humans

Disruptive labor market changes, including the rise of robots and artificial intelligence, will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries, according to a recent study. The projection by the World Economic Forum (WEF), suggests a total loss of 7.1 million jobs, offset by a gain of 2 million new positions, according to Thompson Reuters. 

Globally, while almost two-thirds of those queried said they felt positive about their job prospects, those in developing markets Brazil, China, India and South Africa were far more optimistic than their peers in developed markets. While in India, 60 per cent said they think they have the skills needed for their careers, just a quarter were similarly optimistic in France, the poll found. The survey also showed that the level of confidence which young people had in their technical skills correlated with their beliefs in their future career prospects. (click here to read more)

However, while most reports highlight the way robots of the future will eat up human jobs and that the future of employment is bleak, a recent analysis by a Wired article, The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side-By-Side With Robots, stands out. The report author J. P. Gownder, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research assures that robots will not take all the jobs.

He forecasts that 16% of jobs will disappear due to automation technologies between now and 2025, but that jobs equivalent to 9% of today’s jobs will be created. (Click here to read more).

Physical robots require repair and maintenance professionals — one of several job categories that will grow up around a more automated world. That’s a net loss of 7%, far fewer than most forecasts, though still a significant job loss number.