Tencent Vice President Caitlyn Chen says Dreamwriter will help journalists focus on higher-value aspects of reporting. Source: Shutterstock

Why ‘robot reporting’ does not spell doom for journalists

FOR several years, Chinese tech giant Tencent has been developing ‘Dreamwriter’, the AI-driven software that can churn out news reports automatically without human help.

The automation software has a remarkable ability to produce reports and alerts on things like sports game scores and business updates and has sparked concerns over future job prospects of journalists.

However, Tencent Vice President Caitlyn Chen, insists that ‘Dreamwriter’, which made its first foray into ‘robot journalism’ in 2015, will instead help journalists with the more menial aspects of their jobs.

“So If you’re a sports journalist and you go to the sports event, you will write the scores for this match,” she said during the East-West Center International Media Conference in Singapore earlier this week.

Tencent Vice President speaks during the East-West Center International Media Conference in Singapore June 25, 2018. Source: A. Azim Idris

“I think in the future you can focus on interviewing the players and the coach to save your time and let the machine do the other things instead.”

She added that the system would allow journalists to work on the higher-value aspects of reporting.

The vice president, however, did not mention when the technology will be commercially available for newsrooms.

Chen was speaking during a programme that focuses on Tencent’s latest technology such as the use of AI in Chinese media.

Her speech, which was made in Chinese, was delivered via real-time AI translation, much to the amazement of some 350 international journalists present.

“We’re looking to play a role in making connections throughout products to build an ecosystem around Tencent and the whole industry,

“…we do have partners who are critical to producing high-quality content and we make sure that we can train them and support them to make sure they do a good job and make the whole system healthy.”

Over in the United States, news agencies like The Washington Post and the Associated Press have been using AI to produce hundreds of reports every year – covering things from the Rio Olympics and the elections.