As farm workers found in the century before last, and factory workers in the last century — machine takeover of human work is a fact of life. And with the rise of artificial intelligence and ever cheaper, ever more powerful chips to run this AI software, not even journalists (and lowly bloggers) are immune from disruption.

Shannon Rupp writes (for now at least) in The Tyee about the state of the art in AI-journalist software. It’s amusing until it isn’t. And there’s a hint of how this AI software can function as an intelligent assistant, so maybe all is not lost.

Robo_Journalist-620x350Bots have been on the news beats since 2015, and they’re starting to get good at it. The Washington Post’s Heliograf program was a big part of its stellar election coverage, with digital-reporters writing 500 election stories, and pulling 500,000 clicks, in a fraction of the time it would take meat-reporters to churn out that copy. . . .

Heliograf also functions as a kind of journo’s assistant, alerting a human to odd voting patterns or unexpected election results. That frees up the human journalists to analyze the information, ask questions, do interviews, and write engaging prose for stories where the quality of the writing matters.

The upshot is that the Post is attracting new subscribers, partly due to the depth of its coverage. Which also means that this year it is adding about five dozen meat-journalists to the newsroom.

Afraj Gill in the Globe and Mail gives us a broader look at the AI-abundant future that is probably out there and steadily trundling our way. It’s a plea to understand the coming job and life disruption, and to plan to surf this wave, rather than getting pounded down by it.

At this point, there is little value in reiterating the litany of research on the number of jobs that will be automated in this Fourth Industrial Revolution (such as the World Economic Forum’s study stating five million jobs in 15 economies will be automated within five years – Canada is no exception, with nearly half of our jobs set to be affected by automation within a decade).