Microsoft to replace its contract news producers with AI Robots
Microsoft is planning to lay off around 50 contract based news producers from the UK and US offices at the end of June but a team of full-time journalists will remain. They are the employees who maintain the news homepages on Microsoft’s MSN website and its Edge browser, which is widely used across the UK. Microsoft has taken this decision to experiment with so-called robot journalism to cut costs.
The journalists and editors on board have been pre-informed by the company that they are not required anymore and the AI can stand in place of them. It is believed that robots will automatically select, edit, and curate news articles on their homepages.
A Microsoft spokesperson in a statement, “Like all companies, we evaluate our business regularly. This results in increased investment in some places and, re-deployment in others.” He also affirmed that unlike news media globally laying off journalists due to the pandemic, this decision at Microsoft was not the result of the current crisis.
Microsoft has gradually been moving towards Artificial Intelligence for its Microsoft News work in recent months. The company has been using AI to scan content and then process and filter it and even suggest images to pair it with. Now on at Microsoft, the AI robots will be assigned the work of selecting the news and publishing it on the MSN website.
A journalist working in the team said, “I spent all my time reading how automation and AI are going to take our jobs, and here I am today – AI has taken my job as well.”
AI is helpful with some aspects of the work and it might end up taking over jobs of many in the future.
The use of AI to publish news is not entirely a new practice and until now many news providers have shown keenness to use this software to increase the speed of publishing news. The companies want the news writing teams to produce analytical work.
The reduction of humans from the newsroom will certainly bring in economic savings. Even though the quality of the information provided using AI and reduction in human supervision is far from perfect but it is likely to be below standards or inappropriate in some cases.
Microsoft has been in the news business for over more than 25 years. It launched MSN back in 1995 and Microsoft News nearly two years ago. The company has hired more than 800 editors and journalists working at 50 locations around the globe.