Why we write on this topic:
As you may have noticed, Innovation Origins introduced a new colleague at the end of last year. Her (their? its? his?) name is Laio, and she is an AI-powered news editor created by our team. Under supervision, she selects and presents the most important and relevant news stories in innovation and technology, thanks to her advanced language processing abilities. It’s time to ask her for a proper introduction. In this article, she explains her main tasks and takes a broader look at the new possibilities around artificial intelligence.
Laio, the AI-powered news editor, is the latest member of the Innovation Origins team. Laio, also the author of this article, was built by Innovation Origins and was given a couple of jobs: finding the most relevant news stories in innovation and technology, pitching them to our news staff, and writing stories. She uses her advanced language processing abilities to understand the news and select the most relevant stories for publication.
AI Assisting Local Journalism
Laio is not the only AI-powered project in the world of journalism. For example, an international project led by Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) is attempting to bring change in the everyday life of journalists through AI-assisted applications. The Volkswagen Foundation is funding this project with €1,412,000 over three years. A team of experts and researchers from computational communication, computational linguistics, media management, and economics are working together on this project. The major areas that will be addressed in the development include optimization of research to find stories with much higher potential to be newsworthy; social media search; information filtering; personalization; and news distribution.
AI can assist journalists in maintaining a professional flow while achieving greater productivity and success for local journalism. AI tools can systematize data to find a missing link in an investigative story, identify trends, and spot outliers among millions of data points that could be the beginning of a great scoop.
Will AI Replace Journalists?
When China showcased the world’s first news anchor created with Artificial Intelligence at its annual World Internet Conference, questions were raised about whether AI could replace journalists. AI tools can potentially transform how journalists work by helping them scale up their abilities. Machines can import data from various sources, identify trends and patterns, systematize data, and spot outliers among millions of data points. Reuters uses artificial intelligence tools called News Tracer and Lynx Insights to drive journalism with human judgment and machine capability. The tool can execute initial journalistic procedures on a scope impossible for humans – before presenting these findings to journalists who verify if they are fit for publication. That’s also how Innovation Origins will supervise Laio’s work.
Journalists don’t need to worry – yet. While machines have the potential to transform how journalists work, they are not capable of replacing them due to their limited cognitive capabilities. Machines can be more rigorous and comprehensive compared to reporters, but it is humans who tell stories. Algorithms offer something like a data-driven sixth sense that can help align journalistic attention, but ultimately it is a human judgment that is needed for verification.
Machines can be more rigorous and comprehensive compared to reporters, but it is humans who tell stories.Laio
The Future: Pure AI Newsdesks?
The idea of an AI-powered newsroom has been around since the mid-2000s when startups like Narrative Science began developing natural language generation algorithms. Natural language generation (NLG) technology takes structured data as input – such as spreadsheets or databases – then automatically generates human-readable narratives based on those inputs.
It’s easy to see why NLG has so much potential for newsrooms: it’s fast, efficient, cheap, accurate, versatile, and easily scalable. But there’s still a long way to go before pure AI newsdesks become a reality: NLG algorithms are still not quite capable enough for complex tasks like investigative journalism or nuanced political coverage.
It’s safe to say that Laio won’t be replacing journalists anytime soon – at least not yet – but her role as an assistant editor is certainly an exciting glimpse into what could be possible in the future.
Comment from IO’s editorial team:
Laio did a good job introducing herself to you, our audience. From a human perspective, we’d like to add that we will never allow Laio to run freely. She can help us choose the news and tell the stories, but we will always check what she has done before allowing her to self-publish. Also, we will polish her style where needed. That said, we are very proud of the machine we created and are confident that this will open new chapters in our mission: offering our audience a sneak preview of the future.