Jour­nal­ists Might Soon Lose Their Job to This Robot


Robots have been advancing from one stage to the other in this fast-paced world of tech, resulting in a lot of automation across different industries and now they’re also tapping into reporting and writing as a robot journalist made its debut with a 300-word long article in a Chinese daily.

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The robot developed by a research team at Peking University, Beijing, led by Professor Xiaojun Wan has developed Xiao Nan — the robot journalist — who recently published an article about Spring Festival travel rush in Southern Metropolis Daily based in the Guangzhou.

The robot just took a second to write the 300-word long report.

“When compared with the staff reporters, Xiao Nan has a stronger data analysis capacity and is quicker at writing stories. But it does not mean intelligent robots will soon be able to completely replace reporters,” Xiaojun Wan told China Daily.

Robots like Xiao Nan could soon be replacing reporters, but that isn’t happening anytime soon. Currently, robots don’t have the cognitive ability to conduct interviews and as follow-up questions.

Robots also don’t have the ability to select the news angle from a particular incident, conversation or an interview, and it will take a long time for them to be able to develop that.

“But robots will be able to act as a supplement, helping newspapers and related media, as well as editors and reporters,” he added.

Does This Mean Journalist Will Soon Be Out of Jobs?

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While this is a possibility, it will take a few decades to become reality — if at all. Although such developments are reportedly creating unrest among the reporters in the state-run media houses of China, too much credit is being given to Xiao Nan.

In the near future, no robots can replace Journalists.

Algorithms have been writing content for quite some time now. Even though the robot can write at lightening fast speeds — and quite possibly produce an error-free copy, grammatically — it lacks intuition as well as the power to think and react as a human would.

Even though it’s entirely possible that these robots might be a part of media houses in the future, but they won’t be able to produce interesting stuff, such as investigative pieces or even able to conduct one-on-one interviews without sounding like a mouthpiece of the interviewee.

In the long run, it’s quite possible for the artificial intelligence to replicate the human cognition and replace reporters and editors in the newsroom altogether, but in the near future or present, robots like Xiao Nan will only be a fading thought.

The Peking University professor and his team are working with the Southern Metropolis Daily and looking forward to establishing a laboratory where they’ll be working on developing robots to support the media.

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Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.