Artificial Intelligence is Creating a New Industry for Journalists

newsbytes

byte-sized glimpses at the future of journalism

Image from Deepak Pal (www.iqlect.com) at Flickr under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly. But what are its affects on journalism?

What is automated content, how does it work, and to what extent will it automate our jobs?

In episode 1, Kezia Lubanszky talks to Przemek Chojecki, AI expert and CEO.

Przemek Chojecki is a member of Forbes 30 Under 30 with a PHD in mathematics. He is CEO of AI consulting agency ulam.ai and automated content platform Contentyze. Przemek has written about AI in journalism at Medium.

Transcript:

(Inquisitive music plays – ‘Consciousness Rabbit’ by pATCHES from the YouTube audio library).

Kezia: Newsbytes – byte-sized glimpses at the future of journalism.

(Ambient electronic music plays – ‘Peaceful Mind’ by Astron from the YouTube audio library).

Kezia: Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly, but how is changing journalism? What does the future of our industry look like, and what can we do as journalists to prepare for the changes to come?

Hello. I’m Kezia Lubanszky. Today I’m talking to AI expert and CEO Przemek Chojecki. Przemek, thank you for talking with me today.

Przemek: Hello and thank you for inviting me.

Kezia: To get us started, could you tell us what automated content is and how you’re working with this at the moment?

Przemek: So, basically, automated content can be seen in a couple of ways. It starts with building templates for content – things which are very repetitive like weather news, traffic news, stock market news. Those things are just getting raw data, and there are different machines which are software engineered to produce some kind of text based on that. There’s really low variance to that.

Automated content is already with us for some time and this kind of content as shown in finance is used for at least 20 years already.

So, the way I work with that is that I, together with my team, we’re building a content generation platform using those tools, building our own tools, and the goal is to just provide the data and we build a narrative around this text, which doesn’t have to be like traffic, weather, but it can be much more complicated. So, it can be like an opinion piece on other facts that you’re providing.

Kezia: Considering where we’re at with things like weather and traffic news, what do you think about the possibility of fact-based news reporting becoming automated?

Przemek: That’s a good question. So, I think there will be always a role for journalists, but probably it will change in a way because unless you’re writing texts for other robots, it makes sense actually that you have people who know what is interesting to people. So, the role of a journalist will probably change in the sense that it will become more of a strategist who points an algorithm towards a particular direction.

There is already a lot of automation, for example, when it comes to what’s the best text, what’s the best headline, what’s the best publishing date, publishing time for a given piece of content because, you know, you have all these metric statistics coming from Facebook, Twitter. So, definitely, the least endangered niche of journalist is investigative journalism.

Kezia: Do you see that changing any time soon?

Przemek: OK. So, I don’t know. Like, that’s really hard to say because the progress in AI is amazing. But the question is whether we really want it, so maybe to some extent it will be possible. But what’s my experience is the best model for writing different texts is kind of the hybrid between human and machine, meaning that you use some of the algorithms, but then you cherry pick between those different fragments, the different paragraphs, you add something from yourself, and this kind of text is actually getting the best results.

Kezia: It sounds like we have a very interesting future ahead of us and that there exciting things happening in the AI world right now. Do you have any advice for journalists moving into the future?

Przemek: Well, being open and testing different tools. So, that’s a great thing because I’m also advocating, like, the full access to AI. You don’t have to code in order to use AI. So, to some extent, it’s more thinking about what you can automate in your process. It’s trying to get this different mindset that you don’t do things like they used to be, you try to innovate in your own processes. And I think that’s the most important because once you start thinking about that, it will be easier for you as a journalist to actually thrive in this new world with technology.

Kezia: Przemek, thank you talking with me today.

Przemek: Thanks very much.

(Music fades in and out)

Kezia: Thanks for listening.

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