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17 May 2012updated 01 Jul 2021 5:46am

Robots writing business stories, which is fine

Finally gone too far, should be stopped before too late? Robots.

By Martha Gill

Robots have started replacing business news writers. Forbes.com are now using a set of algorithms called “Narrative Science” to write their business stories for them, in an exciting move which is also totally fine.

It’s great that we, as humans, have made such amazing advances in technology. Although many might argue that proper journalistic writing  can only be rendered by “the world’s most sophisticated computer” (the human brain), and surely, if there was a glitch in the system or something, things could go catastrophically wrong, and have we learned nothing from Spielberg movies?

The exciting new innovation started in an experimental lab at Northwestern University, and could now make news organisations more efficient by replacing staff on the business team. But the whole issue begs the question, would a robot get everyone in the office coffee, even though the coffee machine is down in the basement? Would a robot go to parties even though they were really tired that day and make small talk with Boris Johnson then pass it on to everyone? It’s hard to imagine.

It’s unclear what the next move will be. Initiating a massive anti-robot grass roots campaign and sabotaging these Forbes.com computers in the process is just one suggestion that has been flying around.

It’s easy to forget that the readers are the real victims here. Also, business journalists. It is perhaps a little soon to say whether we’re on the threshold of a dystopian, faceless society ruled by automatons and powered by human slaves, but let’s just say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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