The Washington Post has a big team of journalists covering the Rio Olympics.
Also covering the games for the paper: Robots.
The Post is using homegrown software to automatically produce hundreds of real-time news reports about the Olympics. Starting tomorrow morning, those items will appear, without human intervention, on the Post’s website, as well as in outside channels like its Twitter account.
The idea is to use artificial intelligence to quickly create simple but useful reports on scores, medal counts and other data-centric news bits — so that the Post’s human journalists can work on more interesting and complex work, says Jeremy Gilbert, who heads up new digital projects for the paper.
“We’re not trying to replace reporters,” he said. “We’re trying to free them up.”
Gilbert and Sam Han, the paper’s head of data science, have a team of three engineers working full-time on Heliograf, the Post’s AI software. A few more product analysts are spending about half of their time on the project, and four or five newsroom staffers are also spending time shaping the software.
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In 2012, Gilbert said, some of the Post’s election coverage was up to 16 hours behind, as a handful of humans waded through returns.
The plan is to also use the same software to look for interesting data points, like trends in voting patterns across the country, that it can flag for human reporters to build upon.
And at some point, Gilbert says, the Post wants to be able to “inject” contributions from its AI into stories its flesh-and-blood journalists are creating. Ideally, readers won’t be able to tell who made what.
Link to the rest at recode