Robots Writing Over 1,000 Stories Per Month for the Associated Press

Posted on January 31, 2015

Example of a computer generated AP story

The use of computers to create new stories with no help from human reporters is on the rise. So far these stories tend be analysis of financial reports, marketing news or short reports about the results of a sports game. This type of non-human reporting has been dubbed "robot journalism." The Associated Press is one of the company's using the computer software to create stories. They are now publishing 3,000 computer generated stories each quarter or 1,000 per month.

The AP's robotic news is generated by Automated Insights (AI) software platform called Wordsmith. AI says its platform can automate 2,000 stories per second. AI says it transforms data into written reports. It says it uses "artificial intelligence to dynamically spot patterns and trends in raw data and then describe those findings in plain English."

Lou Ferrara, vice president and managing editor of business news for the AP, claims the computer generated reports are not taking away jobs. He says in a statement, "Automation has allowed us to free reporters to focus on less data processing and put more energy into high-level reporting. Automation was never about replacing jobs. It has always been about how we can best use the resources we have in a rapidly changing landscape and how we harness technology to run the best journalism company in the world."

The Associated Press may not be reducing staff as it publishes more robot news stories but those computer generated stories could be competition for writers at other organizations. Software like Wordsmith may be only spitting out droll financial news stories about earnings for now but as it grows in sophistication it could potentially be used more frequently and cover more topics. The Verge reports that other companies using Wordsmirth include Yahoo, which uses it to generate fantasy football reports.

AI notes in its release that stories created by its algorithms "contain far fewer errors than their manual counterparts." The computer software does get a byline which can be found at the end of the AP's computer generated stories. The byline reads, "This story was generated by Automated Insights."

Photo: Automated Insights