Posted by: bluesyemre | March 7, 2018

Ask a Content Strategist: When Will the #Robot #Writers Take Over?


When you read headlines like “The Washington Post’s Robot Reporter Has Published 850 Articles in the Past Year,” it’s bound to give you nightmares. Hell, I just had a nightmare that Contently fired me and replaced me with robot Will Smith, which is probably a sign I need to stop watching I, Robot every time I fly Delta.

While automation is destined to disrupt our professional lives to an epic degree over the next decade, I don’t think most writers should be worried. They just need to hone their skills to do the things robots cannot.

Algorithms like Heliograph, the Washington Post’s AI technology that spits out short articles, have gotten pretty damn good at relaying objective information backed by data, such as recaps of sporting events and analysis of financial reports. These are boring, formulaic assignments usually given to cub reporters in newsrooms as a form of hazing before they move up the ranks. It’s such a brainless activity that many reporters simply use a Mad Libs-style template to produce them.

What the robots aren’t very good at, however, is telling stories that build an emotional connection with an audience. They can’t connect with a reader by sharing a personal anecdote or describing the protagonist of a story with a vivid description. Robot writers can’t use the first person—at least not until we reach the singularity.

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