CHINA: Dreamwriter is a Dream-Killer for Journalists

EMILY ROCHA WRITES – Back in September, a robot called Dreamwriter published a near 1,000 word article in nearly a minute. The business finance report was written in Chinese and entirely understandable, leaving readers to assume it was written by a human.

Dreamwriter, developed by “gaming giant” Tencent, has led to a newfound anxiety among journalists that their field could soon be taken over by machines. Even though the development of computer-written articles has become a phenomenon within the United States and other Western countries, Chinese reporters were blindsided by the emergence of a similar system within their own home country.

These machines are made possible by algorithms that collect data, pull quotes and identify patterns found in “reams of material,” including those found online. In addition, the algorithms are developed so that robots such as Dreamwriter are designed to catch their own mistakes and learn from them in the future.  Dreamwriter did make a single mistake regarding an expert’s gender within its first published piece, but it can supposedly be programmed to never make that same mistake again.  This practically guarantees editorial perfection in this computerized version of journalism.

Writing at one minute per article, computers are capable of churning out at least one hundred stories per day.  These robots can produce far more stories than humans, and could possibly have the power to make journalists obsolete; you don’t have to pay a robot, after all.

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