Human vs. machine in news-writing showdown

In this growing age of artificial intelligence, a good question might be whose jobs won’t be taken by a machine?

News writers? You’re in the crosshairs of your new overlords.

For its Robot Week, Financial Times pitted real-life human Sarah O’Connor against the artificial intelligence of “Emma” to see who could write a better story about the official UK unemployment data.

Emma was quicker, O’Connor admits in her human-written report today. “But to my relief, she lacked the most important journalistic skill of all: the ability to distinguish the newsworthy from the dull. While she correctly pointed out the jobless rate was unchanged, she overlooked that the number of jobseekers had risen for the first time in almost a year.”

O’Connor writes that artificial intelligence could take over the more mundane tasks from the creative person, thereby freeing the human up to be even more creative.

But what if machines can learn to be creative?

“Should you welcome or fear the rise of intelligent machines?” O’Connor asks. “That depends on whether they will be working for you, or you will be working for them.”

(h/t: Tom Scheck)

  • joetron2030

    They lucked out that they had a reporter named “Sarah (O’)Connor” to go up against a machine. 😉

  • Jay Sieling

    I had an spooky sense of life imitating art imitating life. Sara Connor is the heroine in the Terminator movies. The quote from Sarah O’ Connor could have come from the movie dialog.
    Fascinating to see how far AI has come in the last decade. I’m wondering how soon “Emma” will be used by students to write term papers!

  • jon

    It’s not enough for the machines are as good as humans at a particular task, they also have to be cheaper.

    So long as we can stay in that sweet spot of being smarter than monkeys and cheaper than robots there will be work for humans.

  • Rob

    If the machine journalists aren’t programmed to hedge the way human journalists do, I for one will call that progress!

  • PaulJ

    AI still doesn’t seem to be able to eliminate clutter (especially when making culture relevant decisions). AI might have become even more powerful in the ability to network, but how much of its network is merely old news?