A brief column by Shelley Palmer has some troubling news (“The 5 Jobs Robots Will Take First“).
I expected the first to go would be things like warehouse worker, truck driver, etc.
Instead, at the top of Palmer’s list are middle management jobs, sales jobs, and–are you ready–“report writers, journalists, authors & announcers.”
Writing is tough. But not report writing. Machines can be taught to read data, pattern match images or video, or analyze almost any kind of research materials and create a very readable (or announceable) writing. Text-to-speech systems are evolving so quickly and sound so realistic, I expect both play-by-play and color commentators to be put out of work relatively soon – to say nothing about the numbered days of sports or financial writers. You know that great American novel you’ve been planning to write? Start now, before the machines take a creative writing class.
I know that a lot of financial reports are written by computers. Basic stories about upcoming public meetings or events can probably be done the same way.
And its certainly true that stories drawn from industry press releases can easily be automated. Or, as is already the case, simply reprinted without rewrites.
Complex news reporting will be more difficult to automate, at least I would hope so.
The state of the news industry is tenuous enough without worrying about the economics of news robots.