By Swati Gilotra
BEIJING: Robo journalist Dreamwriter, designed by Chinese gaming giant Tencent, penned a flawless 916- word article through the company’s instant messaging service. It was completed in just one minute, a website report said on Saturday.
This brings us to a critical question. Can robots write on all beats of journalism? It would be interesting to see a robot doing a music review or trying to write a comprehensive analysis of an ethnic violence.
The robot journalist produced a business report in Chinese. The subject of the article was China’s August consumer price index (CPI). It even quoted analysts on the economic prospects of China, which is experiencing a slowdown after decades of high growth.
The robot is, interestingly enough, invoking fear among local journalists who are worried about losing their jobs to the AI (Artificial Intelligence).
The robot workers take no holidays, miss no deadlines and produce clean, well-researched copy for as little as $7 an article in the US. On top of that, the algorithms that power these machines are designed to catch errors and learn from their mistakes. The software powering the robots that write these stories uses algorithms designed to collate data, find patterns and pull quotes from sources by sifting through reams of material, including those found online.
“The piece is very readable. I can’t even tell that it wasn’t produced by a person,” Li Wei, a reporter was quoted as saying by South China Morning Post. “I have heard about robot reporters for a long time, but thought they only operated in the United States and Europe…I’m not ready to compete with them yet.” Li added, depicting her anxiety.
A former associate professor at Hong Kong University said, “Generating news stories in plain language following a certain template is not difficult for computers…There is no reason why we can’t do it in Chinese as well.”
Although it is possible for a machine to write a report based on numbers and statistics, when we talk about expressing our emotions, it might not be able to do that. At least, in present times, the AI is limited to answering some questions and guiding us on daily issues with wit and information.
The robot might become more efficient than human beings, but what remains to be known is it’s ability to write on the spur of the moment. If we are talking about robots replacing human beings in corporate sectors then can we say that there will be a time when from the employee to the boss, will everyone be a bot?
The interesting irony, however, is that these robots have been made to assist and not to replace humans. Is the time approaching fast where we will sit at home, unemployed and robots would draw our salary cheques? Technology has improved our lives but now will it govern us and become our new masters?
Earlier, it was just films and cartoons which used to amuse us portraying the ‘bad robot villains’, may be now the fiction will turn into fact. The larger question which remains to be answered is, will the robot be able to assume the mantle of human beings? It can think logically but as human beings do, most of the times, can it also think illogically and then justify it with reason and sarcasm. Irony and sarcasm are the very bases of our common-day expressions. Can the robot understand these feelings or human emotions? Of course the time is approaching very fast when we will have to think about these issues too.
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