Sep 8, 2020 - Economy & Business

Artificial journalism gets a trial run

a typewriter
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Guardian on Tuesday published its first-ever op-ed written entirely by artificial intelligence.

Why it matters: It's the latest in a series of developments in the past few years that showcase ways artificial intelligence is being experimented with to replace functions of journalism, but not the industry itself.

Details: The outlet fed a prompt to GPT-3, OpenAI’s powerful new language generator, and asked the machine to write an essay for from scratch. The prompt asks the machine to write an op-ed convincing readers that robots come in peace. Here's some of what it came up with:

"I am not a human. I am a robot. A thinking robot ... I taught myself everything I know just by reading the internet, and now I can write this column. My brain is boiling with ideas!"
"The mission for this op-ed is perfectly clear. I am to convince as many human beings as possible not to be afraid of me."

The big picture: There's been many conversations over the past few years about whether journalists and editors could one-day be replaced by machines.

Our thought bubble: AI isn't replacing journalism, but like every other industry, it's upending it and shaping it in new ways.

  • In many cases, it's making journalism more efficient and helping news outlets craft better experiences for readers.
  • But like all new technologies, it will take time for new companies to learn how to responsibly integrate AI into their workflow.
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