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I'm A Radio Broadcaster. A Robot Couldn't Do My Job, Could It?

In 2017, the world is already teeming with artificial intelligence. There are fruit-picking robots on farms, umpire robots to call balls and strikes at baseball games, robot fashion models and robot pharmacists.

But as newsrooms around the country turn to computer algorithms to write breaking news stories, Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd (@odowdpeter) got to thinking about his own future in the business.

He visited the Washington Post newsroom, where a news-writing algorithm wrote nearly 500 stories about local races on election night in 2016. The program, called Heliograf, automatically updated the stories as results came in. Here’s an example from Missouri:

A startup called Wibbitz has come up with a way to automate the work a human video producer might do. It takes text from a newspaper article, compiles video and images that are relevant to the story and creates a new multimedia story that can be shared easily online:

[Youtube]

But could a robot make a radio story? Well, a company called Lyrebird is developing technology that can re-create a human voice and make it say novel sentences. Here’s how it sounds now:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

This image shows the different stages a Heliograf story went through leading up to, during and after Election Day. (Courtesy of The Washington Post)
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This image shows the different stages a Heliograf story went through leading up to, during and after Election Day. (Courtesy of The Washington Post)