This Is What A News Story Written By Robots Looks Like

Yesterday, the Associated Press announced it would begin automating its earnings reports, though it insisted no one’s jobs were being replaced.

But the firm the wire service has tapped to do the automating told BI Tuesday that it produced 300 million pieces of content last year, which is a bit more than what the average reporter is capable of.

Durham, North Carolina-based Automated Insights specialises in producing marketing, sales and personalised financial reports through complex algorithms. Clients have included MSN and Yahoo, for which AI creates individualized fantasy football reports.

“You can apply the technology in many different fields where you’re trying to tell stories about data,” Automated Insights founder and CEO Robbie Allen said.

But there’s also the churn rate. AP says AI’s technology will allow it to produce thousands more reports per quarter than it currently creates. They sent us an example of what their reports will now look like:

Walt Disney 1Q net income rises 33 per cent

Walt Disney 1st-quarter profit rises 33 per cent; results beat analysts’ expectations

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) reported a 33 per cent increase in its fiscal first-quarter net income, beating analysts’ estimates.

Disney, which is based in Burbank, California, earned $US1.84 billion in the quarter, up from $US1.38 billion in the same period a year ago. Per-share earnings climbed to $US1.03 from 77 cents.

The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks was 92 cents per share.

Revenue rose 9 per cent to $US12.31 billion from $US11.34 billion. Analysts expected $US11.8 billion.

The company’s stock price has fallen 6.1 per cent so far this year. However, over the past 12 months, Disney stock has increased 33 per cent.

This story was generated automatically by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. Full Zacks research report: DIS.

The other content AI produces sent us is pretty uncanny, and communications manager James Kotecki told us some clients choose to attach their own byline even if the report was automated. Here’s an example of their personal finance report:

Earlier this year, Oxford University researchers predicted there was a 99% chance “data entry keyers” would be automated, and a 58% probability personal financial advisors would.

AP is the latest news outlet that’s deploying robot reporters. In March, a computer wrote the LATimes’ first run-through on a 4.7 quake that hit just a few miles from Westwood.

The wire service insisted no one’s jobs were being taken.

“This is about using technology to free journalists to do more journalism and less data processing, not about eliminating jobs,” AP vice president and managing editor Lou Ferrara said on its site. “In fact, most of the staff has been receptive to the effort and involved for the past few months of discussion.”

That’s the line BI also got from AI.

“We’ve never had an implementation where we replace jobs,” Allen said.

AP has previously worked with AI on a smaller project, and is now an investor in the firm.

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