Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Somalia twin bombings kill 18 in Mogadishu

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Arming the "good guys"?

Read more

THE DEBATE

Gun Control in the United States: Will the Florida shooting be the turning point?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Giving a voice to the homeless in France

Read more

REPORTERS

'Never Again': The students pushing for US gun control

Read more

#TECH 24

A bright future for solar power

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Winter in France's Burgundy vineyards

Read more

FOCUS

How French cyber police are patrolling the 'Dark Web'

Read more

ENCORE!

Marseille mon amour: Mediterranean city celebrates love

Read more

FOCUS

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2010-03-30

The robot journalists are coming

Here is a movie review, entirely written and read by machine. A scary prospect? Yes, especially if you are a journalist, suddenly discovering that a robot could take your job. France 24 went to meet the two brains behind this fiendish plan: two professors at Northern University in Illinois, USA.

The future of TV News could look like this: two CGI characters giving the news. Their voice, computer generated, still sounds very artificial, but the text looks far more natural. But believe it or not, no human being was involved in the making of this movie review: it was entirely written and read by machine.

This project was born, among others, in the Intelligent Information Laboratory, at Northwestern University, co-directed by Larry Birnbaum and Kris Hammond.

The most advanced of the systems they work on, called Stats Monkey, uses baseball statistics to write recaps of games that are a little dry, but as worthy as any published by real sports reporters. A few days ago, Big Ten Network, a college sports TV network, started to publish those stories online. “That's all information that you would find in a story that any human being would write, says Chris Malcolm of Big Ten Network, except that this came faster and it came cleaner and it came much more effectively.”

After sports, Larry and Kris are going to go into financial and market stories, also a data-heavy field where numbers can be translated into texts. And that's only the beginning, says Kris Hammond: “The machine is going to cover those areas where human journalists aren't covering them, either because of manpower or financial issues, or audience issues. No-one is going to write a story, no traditional journalist is going to write a story that is going to be read by a hundred people, but if the machine is there, it can write that story and those hundred people are going to be happy”.

Still not really reassured, we step out of the lab and across the street to a symbol of old-fashioned journalism, the Chicago Tribune Tower. And here, much to our surprise, robot journalists are not always seen as enemies. “What they are doing in fact might be great for human journalists, says Bill Adee, editor of digital media at the daily, because they are then going to spend time on the things that matter”. In its long history, the Tribune has won 25 Pulitzer prizes. A feat that no robot journalist will ever achieve...or will they?

By Nathan KING , Emmanuel SAINT-MARTIN

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-02-23 Internet

How French cyber police are patrolling the 'Dark Web'

The "Dark Web" is a part of the internet that can only be accessed with a special browser. One of its main features is a huge quantity of illegal marketplaces selling drugs,...

Read more

2018-02-22 France

'It's a jungle': Living on the street in the City of Light

A tally of homeless people in Paris last week counted at least 3,000 people sleeping rough in the capital. The French government is being criticised for not sticking to its...

Read more

2018-02-21 Europe

Italy helps integrate asylum seekers through training

Italy is one of Europe's main arrival points for migrants, but processing each asylum request can take up to two years. That's a long period of forced idleness for asylum...

Read more

2018-02-20 Africa

Inside the murky business of cobalt mining in DR Congo

Cobalt is an essential component of batteries for smartphones and electric cars. Around 60% of it comes from just one country, DR Congo – and most of the metal is exported to...

Read more

2018-02-19 Europe

What's behind Germany's steep drop in juvenile crime?

One in five prison beds in Germany are empty. The figures from German juvenile offenders' institutions are even more striking: the rate of youth crime fell by half between 2007...

Read more