Journalists have â€œnothing to fearâ€� from artificial intelligence, according to a leading media technology expert who has worked with Sky News.
Matt Eaton, general manager for Europe at machine learning technology company Gray Meta, has insisted that rather than threatening journalistsâ€™ jobs, AI can help them work more efficiently.
The â€œrobot-generatedâ€� service localises stories using Natural Language Generation technology after journalists â€œidentify, write and templateâ€� them using open data sets.
Eaton claimed that 50 per cent of a journalistâ€™s time can currently be spent on â€œuncreativeâ€� tasks such as searching for content.
He said: â€œPeopleâ€™s expectations [of AI] range from the science fiction of it all and the feeling it can do anything, to cynicism.
â€œThey fear itâ€™s going to take away their jobs. But itâ€™s very much an enhancement and a tool, like a typewriter.â€�
Gray Meta worked with Sky News last year for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Its facial recognition technology powered Skyâ€™s Whoâ€™s Who app which automatically identified wedding guests in real time as they arrived for the ceremony in Windsor and provided facts about each person.
Hugh Westbrook, Skyâ€™s senior product owner, revealed that the Sky newsroom is currently testing video transcription technology, which he said could â€œtransform the working livesâ€� of journalists.
The technology renders speech into text, saving journalists the effort of typing out quotes from video clips and news organisations the money of outsourcing this manual work.
Westbrook (pictured) said: â€œThey [journalists] get the copy straight away and it speeds up the whole process. They know immediately what clips they can use with the transcription.
â€œThe standard fear is a machine can do a job for them, but actually it means better quality time spent [working on a story].â€�
Eaton and Westbrook will demonstrate some potential uses of AI at the Broadcast Journalism Training Councilâ€™s annual spring conference on 9 May, which this year will explore the impact technology has on journalists at work.
BJTC chief executive Jon Godel said: â€œThe sessions will provide a fascinating insight into cutting-edge uses of AI in the newsroom, as well as debating what kind of journalism will we have if talking to real people becomes a dying art.â€�
Godel recently told Press Gazette he fears a â€œgradual erosionâ€� of real-life social skills, brought on by social media and smartphone use, could pose a â€œmassive problemâ€� for the news industry.
â€œIf real people donâ€™t talk to real people there will be no real journalism,â€� he said.
The BJTC accredits 59 journalism courses in the UK at 42 institutions and works with industry partners including ITN, Sky News, the BBC, AP, Channel 4, Reuters and Global.
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Source: Digital Journalism