back to article Major US news organisations to develop ROBOT JOURNALISTS

In a development whose potential sinister consequences would be difficult to exaggerate, a number of major US new organisations have banded together in an alliance for the purpose of developing news-gathering robots. Nor is this some sort of HuffPost blogswarm news aggregation scrap-o-matic system: this plan would see actual …

  1. PleebSmash
    Big Brother

    Gannett owns USA Today

    It's almost time

  2. Mark 85

    SPB Project?

    If they fly, will the SPB get involved for El Reg? You guys don't want to be left behind, do you? I mean, state of the art and all that...

  3. Kaltern


    I dunno, news being reported by unbiased robo-reporters, recorded accurately and with no personal bias or spin kinda appeals.

    Then of course the editors get their hands on the story and spin it right round baby.

    Maybe we can have robo-ed's. Maybe El Reg should have a trial with that, after all, editors are just meat-based censorship devices, right?

    1. PleebSmash
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Refreshing

      recorded accurately and with no personal bias or spin kinda appeals

      You forgot about Instagram filters applied in real time.

      1. Kaltern

        Re: Refreshing

        No no, even that would imply bias. Imagine every photo of Inner London being taken with Ludwig.. Bright and crisp? Clean?? See the problem?

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Listen and understand

    That journalist is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until it's got a quote it can quote out of context for Fox News to base an entire programme on.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Listen and understand

      I thought Fox News already employed robots programmed to disagree with EVERYTHING the Democrats propose

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Listen and understand

        While Fox News takes the extreme conservative viewpoint, much of mainstream news takes an extreme liberal stance.

        If the mud slinging, personal attacks and other distractions were removed, I would be very happy with making our "leadership" defend their positions on the issues. Like that's going to happen. In this age of reality TV, one has to have gratuitous insults (bleeped or not), epithets, and physical violence to achieve any sort of ratings (LCD). I like to think that TV would be better, and I'd start watching it again more frequently, if there were far fewer channels with much better content.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes...

    Robo reporters makes perfect sense.

    I already have a robo reader that I use to limit the amount of news I read and lets me focus only on the important stuff.

    So robo reporters writing for robo readers that distill it down to simple soundbites I can digest on the run.

    Pretty soon, there will be no man in the loop and then we could spoof the news and cause wide spread panic as the robo readers for the trading companies that buy and sell stock based on social medai's sentiment analysis will start to buy or sell certain stocks due to said spoofs.

    I can't wait. I'll make a fortune!!!! :-)

    (cue evil laugh)

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Ah yes...

      Isn't that robo reader of yours simply an electronic monk? Remember not to cross link it to a video recorder programmed to watch 17 boring channels simultaneously. Can cause trouble

  6. knarf

    Ethics Chip?

    Will they have ethics chips ???

    Mind you do tabloid ones seem not to have any ethics anyway.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Ethics Chip?

      Most of the tabloid stuff appears to be aimed at the average Ethics resident.

      Goes down well in Basildon.

    2. PleebSmash

      Re: Ethics Chip?

      Every bot will have an ethics chip designed and programmed by Rupert Murdoch.

  7. Blofeld's Cat


    I used to work with some sports journalists and reporters, and I would suggest Futurama's Bender as a starting point.

    In El Vino's veritas as they say...

  8. frank ly

    They're quite advanced nowadays

    Maybe a bit stiff in his movements with a dry/resonant voice? I'm wondering.

  9. Filippo Silver badge

    Meh. If they actually go out and get the news, instead of just copy'n'pasting twitters and press releases, they'll still be better than 90% of the current crop of meatsack journalists.

  10. Elmer Phud

    Journo Bots?

    Can we have some programmed in the journalistic style of H.S.T.?

  11. Little Mouse Silver badge

    Can you imagine such a thing?

    Shirley this will mean a whole new breed of robo journos who only the use the internet as the source of their stories. They'll have no emotion or empathy and only possess a text-book grasp of ethics at best.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Can you imagine such a thing?

      From the evidence, I thought that is how it works now, but you left out the spelling and grammar mistakes and foul language.

  12. Quentin North

    20 minutes into the future

    Max Headroom

  13. Teiwaz


    Non-relevant reference, except when I read this article my first assumption was that I'd crossed dimensions in my sleep (again (or that might just be a delusion - check the diagram Dougal).

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      UBIK brings back journalistic integrity after your talk with "unnamed White House sources"

      You now realize that Philip K. Dick actually saw reality as it really is.

      UBIK beer, what else!

  14. Lyndon Hills 1

    Ahead of the curve

    El Reg should never have dropped their egg-shaped reporter.

  15. Bob Wheeler

    Gives a new meaning to..

    Flying Robo Journo Drones: with left-wing or right-wing bais?

  16. Dan Paul

    Is that any different than...

    miming everything that Associated Press used to put on the teletype? Print media did this forever and still do even though the teletype no longer rattles in the corner.

    If you browse the web news site, most stories are recaps of other sites news which are lifted from some other source.

    The Register does this regularly.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > Initially the plans call for the robot journalists to confine themselves to flying about in the skies overhead

    The journalist drones fly around looking for interesting things happening on the ground... and at the same time keep half-an-eye on their nearest neighbour competitor drone in case that spots something first. When it sees the competitor drone drop down to investigate, it will fly over and do the same. And so will the neighbouring drone watching it, and so on.

    Just like vultures.

    (Time to beef-up the copyrights on your logo, El Reg.)

  18. MachDiamond Silver badge

    A story suitable for The Onion. Robo Journalists wouldn't gather news, they'd gather data and a massive rank of editors would have to sift through all of the muck to find a few diamonds.

    Peter Hurley, a noted portrait photographer, tried out a very high resolution RED video camera on a session to see if having 30 or 60 frames per second would allow him to get the perfect image of somebody in his studio. Technically, the video frames were high quality enough, but sorting through what amounts to 10's or 100's of thousands of images was a chore and a half. Just as he knows when to press the shutter to capture the best image, a human reporter will know what is news and what is noise. Would it be the same if the Red Light District was automated?

  19. Uncle Siggy

    PIPO publishing has finally arrived!

    Poop In Poop Out - "Nearly as effective as a rhino spreading copious amounts of feces in your general direction, using a tale!"

  20. Scott 29

    Bring on the robotic Iraqi Information Minister!

    Please, create a robotic Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, of former Iraqi Information Minister fame.

    He's at least as accurate as MSNBC, but with a more pleasing look and conviction.

    Bonus: I'm sure he won't feel compelled to ask Eric Holder to quack like a duck!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ain't that the truth?

    "[L]eaving the office and getting out and about finding things out, the way meatsack journalists used to before Twitter."

    Article worth reading just for that sentence¹.

    ¹ Picked up from Twitter, no doubt?

  22. crypto7

    We already have robot reporters in the US -- it's called the MSM (mainstream media). NBC, CBS, and ABC. Oh and over in this corner, with all the other water-carriers for the Democrat White House, are CNN and MSNBC, who are having a competition to see how many people you can fit into a thimble...

  23. Kevin 6

    Wow were getting physical robots that will scour for info instead of what could be done with automated scripts?

    Seriously any web programmer could make a script that will scour AP for news, and run a thesaurus on a few words(something a good chunk of journalist don't bother) to change it up a little, and repost it as theirs.

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