Is Robo-Journalism Our Future

20947645_sLet me paint a picture. I’m envisioning a massive room – one floor that encompasses the width and length of the building. There is a sea of desks/work stations lined with computers. These cubicles have no need for sides, because the pictures of sons, daughters, a husband, or a wife that should be filling these spaces, are all missing. Also absent are the pink begonia, and the pothos one could have received for that last birthday, or an employee of the month gift. No half eaten bagels, or donuts clutter this space, and no cups with the Starbucks logo, or any that broadcast, World’s Best Cube Mate hang around either. Why? Because these workers never leave their work areas – they aren’t in need of bathroom breaks, or trips to the water cooler. You see, they’re all BOTS – as in robots.

I’m certain most of you heard of the latest earthquake to hit the Los Angeles Basin on Monday, March 17th. Will man be the cause of his own undoing? The LA Times has a BOT they call Quakebot. What does Quakebot do? This non-gender collection of bolts and chips sits quietly waiting for news to break with regard to earthquakes. It doesn’t need awakening from its sleep to make it downtown, or to its home office to rush words onto a screen, and then to print. Quakebot is, “programmed to extract the relevant data from the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) report and plug it into a pre-written template,” right down the hall in the offices of the LA Times. Additionally, from what I understand it completes a piece in a matter of seconds flat. Of course, human hands and eyes must come along, peruse the info sitting in queue and then, hit publish, but click here to take a gander at the finished product.

Now, the developer says this piece of machinery can’t walk the street to interview the local George or Georgette, personalizing the piece, but I don’t know if I’d put money on the fact that doesn’t sit somewhere in our future. I mean, think of it. It would certainly have no need of paper, or pencil, and no microphone in your face. One would simply need to speak clearly, and everything said would be recorded for later use. Or maybe the information would be transmitted to the stationary computer in the office via satellite. Who knows? Some say “Robo-journalism” is a threat to journalists, which is what I meant about man causing his own downfall. Naturally, as the world progresses, we find bigger and better uses from that one computer chip – the invention that hurled many things as we know them into a different dimension. Granted we still need man to push the button, backup, or click the mouse, many jobs have already been lost to progress.

Right now, I’m imagining the fanciest night ever, and I’m dolled up in my finest. It’s the evening for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize awards in journalism, one of the highest honors. There are many in attendance, however, in the seat where Southway, the head writer for the Living section should be, sits Quakebot. It’s funny, isn’t it? I know you’ll all call me crazy, and laugh at the thought of a computer taking the place of a human being, and accepting the award, let me just leave you with this story. Many years ago as a little girl, a time when only three or four channels graced a home on the television, I had a grandfather who would say all the time – “Mark my words, there’s gonna come a day when everyone will have to pay for television.” Now of course, I hope you know I don’t believe any of this BOT stuff with it attending such a dinner, but it does leave you wondering, doesn’t it? What do you think of this whole concept?

Info provided by Source Open News



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