Really fake news, only faster? Robots to become reporters

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by LizKat, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. LizKat macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #1
    Well this could provide some laughs and probably some lawsuits over the long run... would be a fun project to work on though.


    Excerpt:

    Google is awarding the Press Association, a large British news agency, $805,000 to build software to automate the writing of 30,000 local stories a month.

    The money comes from a fund from Google, the Digital News Initiative, that the search giant started with a commitment to invest over $170 million to support digital innovation in newsrooms across Europe.

    The Press Assocation received the funding in partnership with Urbs Media, an automation software startup specializing in combing through large open datasets. Together, the Press Assocation and Urbs Media will work on a software project dubbed Radar, which stands for Reporters And Data And Robots.

    Radar aims to automate local reporting with large public databases from government agencies or local law enforcement — basically roboticizing the work of reporters. Stories from the data will be penned using Natural Language Generation, which converts information gleaned from the data into words.

    The robotic reporters won’t be working alone. The grant includes funds allocated to hire five journalists to identify datasets, as well as curate and edit the news articles generated from Radar. The project also aims to create automated ways to add images and video to robot-made stories.
     
  2. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #2
    Watch the jobs swirl down the toilet.
     
  3. samcraig macrumors P6

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    #3
    I can see Trump preparing his tweets already about how unfair the robots are and they've all been programmed against him.
     
  4. BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #4
    Google can't even prevent its core existence -- its search engine -- from being gamed by outsiders. What makes them think we'll trust its robo-writers to do the right thing?

    What a bunch of crap.

    What makes news reporters essential is that not all the facts get transmitted or documented in (as examples relevant here) government databases and police reports. I'd also argue that these particular sources are late and incomplete.
     
  5. LizKat thread starter macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    Heh if any common sense is coded in, the reporter-bots will be programmed to ignore Twitter as a news "source" and certainly to ignore Trump considering his thin skin. If a bot reports on a Trump tweet via its own Twitter setup (you know how news outlets tweet out the headlines of their own stuff) and Trump doesn't like it, he'll tweetbomb it and get banned and then the revenues of all the media outlets that follow him will collapse. So much for replacing reporters. It would be replacing media by The Grand Silence. Which Trump might actually like :eek:

    The bots should stick to local news sources for reporters, like.... the police blotters?

    I dunno. Maybe they can run off algorithms that mine big public databases like the congressional legislation tracker. But the piece mentioned local news. But how are they going to get a bot to report on town council meetings. They'd have to send Siri down there to take notes?

    Well this gig with bots replacing local reporters is apparently to be tried in Britain somewhere first... or on the continent. I don't see those readers being as tolerant of goofs in reporting as goes on in the USA, notwithstanding all the carping over political coverage. The Brits will do the public beta and we'll miss the fun of all the comic errors over here.
     
  6. samcraig macrumors P6

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    #6
    On the flip side - I think Russia is already ahead of us - lots of bot-news generated during the election ;)
     
  7. BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #7
    If someone thinks this is a good idea, they haven't spent enough time in a newsroom.
     
  8. LizKat thread starter macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #8
    Yah I want to see @hulugu weigh in on this. He could be trying to calm down enough to post... or taking out some of those long words that get filtered.

    I admit to some bias here. I am not a fan of news aggregators, which Google is one of. Now they move past that to inventing (to lean on the word, yeah) what to aggregate? Pah! Ptooey!
     
  9. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #9
    I once wrote 2 articles for the popular press in my role as a neuroscientist. The first article I wrote was published on the web site that asked me to write the story and got 55K hits. The second one got picked up by news aggregators, re-tweeted etc. and we're now at 4 million hits. I get an alert when the article is repackaged and republished on way or another, and so far with human reporters it has been fairly accurately represented (with the exception of hyperbole in tabloid press headlines). I cannot imagine AI would adequately summarise what I wrote because I imagine something along the lines of Word's 'Autosummary' feature.... Google must be flush with money to try a stunt like this.
     
  10. LordVic macrumors 601

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    #10
    this is my concern.

    When everything boils down to an algorithm, with no oversight to ensure some form of logic, you have to worry about the system being gamed. If you understand the algorithms and logic that the code uses, than you can game it.
     
  11. LizKat thread starter macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #11
    Maybe the ultimate audience for this thing is not necessarily local press readers. Seems a cool way to get approval to run the thing out there in the wild on real databases that have publicly available info about real people. It might really be about data mining aggregations for auto-preparation of profiles, and the customers might be ... pick yer worst nightmare.
     
  12. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #12
    Hadn't thought about that angle. My nightmares are pretty bad.
     
  13. hulugu, Jul 10, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017

    hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #13
    Good luck to anyone who thinks they can AI their way to profitability.

    Computers are good at math, and this is why heavy computing power can be used to play chess and poker, but it's going to be a while before algorithms can reliably build news stories.

    Now, some operations use algorithms to aggregate sports scores and the LA Times has a bot that will create quick stories when there's an earthquake—this works well, except when scientists at USGS tried to update the location of an earthquake from 1925, and the bot ended up sending out social media posts about an earthquake that happened in 2025.

    And, other operations are grabbing data from the National Weather Service to provide local weather data as a bug on the top corner.

    But, if you want context, history, or you want to deal with any complexity or controversy, you're going to need a human being in the loop.
     
  14. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #14
    Soo,now every dictator will have to learn how to deal with robot dissidents? And just imagine when Eurosport replace John McEnroe as Wimbledon reporter with C3POs cousin Cletus......
     
  15. unlinked macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I think financial news is already generated by bots to some degree.

    I wonder if Googles bot will end up as racist as Microsofts.
     
  16. Huntn, Jul 10, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017

    Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #16
    They actually believe today's A.I. can put human perspective on events? Secondly are large multinational corporations so intent on disenfranchising human being of their professions for big profits? Don't they know at some point, the pictchfork armed unemployed mob will be crashing in their headquarters?
     
  17. jbarley macrumors 68030

    jbarley

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    #17
    Wait until the Democrats start registering the robots as voters...
     
  18. samcraig macrumors P6

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    #18
    LOL - I'll see that and raise you wait until the Russians hack the robots and Trump denies it.
     
  19. LizKat thread starter macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #19
    ... or wind 'em up and cut 'em loose to knock on doors during the run up to next Iowa caucuses.
     

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