Sunday, May 2, 2010

Robot journalist

How long does it take to be a journalist? For a human, years of education and experience. For a robot, as soon as it’s powered. According to Singularity Hub, a robot developed by the Intelligent Systems Informatics Lab at Tokyo University uses anomaly detection to create news stories. It also can take photographs, publish articles on the Internet, perform Internet searches, and interview subjects. Then, based on the gathered data, it determines if the content is newsworthy.

While this robot is the first of its kind, automated journalism is not new. Researchers in the Intelligent Informations Lab at Northwestern University developed an algorithm called Stats Monkey. The software analyzes scores and historical data to write sports stories.

Northwestern University also produced a more advance software called News At Seven. According to their website, "News At Seven is a system that automatically generates a virtual news show. Totally autonomous, it collects, parses, edits and organizes news stories and then passes the formatted content to artificial anchors for presentation.”

Although the thought of a robot interviewing a person for an article creeps me out, robot journalist can be valuable. "Robot journalists can go to areas too dangerous for human reporters," said Aaron Saenz, a writer for Singularity Hub.

Okay, so robots can be useful. But, it sounds like robots could one day threaten jobs in the reporting field.

Lucky for me, I am in interested in PR work. In my opinion, robots could never succeed in the PR industry. Here's why:

When a PR practitioner attempts to influence behavior, he or she doesn't use a program to develop strategies and tactics. A plan requires critical thinking. Sure, a robot can apply critical thinking, but to an extent. Without human behavior, a robot can never connect with constituents and maintain relationships. For example, human behavior is influenced by a myriad of aspects, including culture and religion. A robot cannot truly understand culture and religion, because it is programmed to act, think, and gather information in a certain way. The way humans act, think, and gather information is not linear. Behavior is complex and cannot be condensed into a program that is inserted into a machine. Without a real understanding of the aspects that affect human behavior, how is a robot expected to influence an audience?

The question is, of course, rhetorical. My job is safe. Whew!

No comments:

Post a Comment