A text-generating “bot” nicknamed Tobi produced nearly 40,000 news stories about the results of the November 2018 elections in Switzerland for the media giant Tamedia — in just five minutes.
These kinds of artificial intelligence programs — available for nearly a decade — are becoming more widespread as news organizations turn to them to produce stories, personalize news delivery and in some cases sift through data to find important news.
Tobi wrote on vote results for each of Switzerland’s 2,222 municipalities, in both French and German, for the country’s largest media group, according to a paper presented last month at the Computation + Journalism conference in Miami.
A similar automated program called Heliograf has enabled The Washington Post daily to cover some 500 election races, along with local sports and business, since 2014.
“We’ve seen a greater acceptance of the potential for artificial intelligence, or robo-journalism, in newsrooms around the world,” said Damian Radcliffe, a University of Oregon professor who follows consumer trends and business models for journalism.
“These systems can offer speed and accuracy and potentially support the realities of smaller newsrooms and the time pressures of journalists.”
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