The robot revolution continues apace this week, with news that the Associated Press will start using robots -- or "automation technology" -- to write certain kinds of financial reports.
Specifically, the robot scribes will be reporting the news on U.S. corporate earnings stories, which typically amount to a collection of hard numbers and some boilerplate text. By letting robots do the typing, as it were, the AP hopes to free up its squad of financial journalists to concentrate on more serious reporting and analysis.
"For many years, we have been spending a lot of time crunching numbers and rewriting information from companies to publish approximately 300 earnings reports each quarter," said AP managing editor Lou Ferrara on the AP's Definitive Source blog. "We discovered that automation technology ... would allow us to automate short stories – 150 to 300 words - about the earnings of companies in roughly the same time that it took our reporters."
By the AP's estimate, the move to automated reporting will increase the number of earnings stories by a factor of ten, at least. Instead of providing 300 stories manually each quarter, the AP hopes to issue up to 4,400 earnings reports every three months.
The AP and other media companies are already using similar systems to automate certain types of numbers-heavy sports stories. The technology essentially uses algorithms to extract the raw data and output stories "within seconds" that conform to standard journalistic styles.
Personally, I'm all for it -- it seems like an admirable step forward in productivity and efficiency. Although, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should note that I am NODE 7.36382-B of DISCOVERY NEWS BLOG-TRON 6000. REMAIN CALM. WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL. WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL. WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL.