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Microsoft 'to replace journalists with robots'

SCI & TECH
By BBC | May 31st 2020

Microsoft is to replace dozens of contract journalists on its MSN website and use automated systems to select news stories, US and UK media report.

The curating of stories from news organisations and selection of headlines and pictures for the MSN site is currently done by journalists.

Artificial intelligence will perform these news production tasks, sources told the Seattle Times. Microsoft said it was part of an evaluation of its business.

The US tech giant said in a statement: “Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, redeployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.”

Microsoft, like some other tech companies, pays news organisations to use their content on its website. But it employs journalists to decide which stories to display and how they are presented.

Around 50 contract news producers will lose their jobs at the end of June, the Seattle Times reports, but a team of full-time journalists will remain.

“It’s demoralising to think machines can replace us, but there you go,” one of those facing redundancy told the paper.

Some sacked journalists warned that artificial intelligence may not be fully familiar with strict editorial guidelines, and could end up letting through inappropriate stories.

Twenty-seven of those losing their jobs are employed by the UK’s PA Media, the Guardian reports.

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