The Latest Profession That’s Threatened by Robotic Takeover? Writers

Science & Tech

The Latest Profession That’s Threatened by Robotic Takeover? Writers

By: Nicole Capo

Want to become a freelance writer but concerned about the time it takes to write a single article? Sverker Johansson, one of the most prolific writers of our times, might have some valuable advice for you. What’s that? You’ve never heard of Sverker Johansson? Odd, considering the 53-year-old Swede has written 2.7 million Wikipedia articles, or 8.5% of the entire collection, according to Wikimedia analytics. By Wikimedia’s count, Johansson is by far the largest contributor, article-wise, of any of their users.

But Johansson doesn’t do it all by himself — though he holds degrees in linguistics, civil engineering, economics and particle physics, he heavily relied on his computer software program, a bot called Lsjbot, to help him with his research and writing. Lsjbot scans the entirety of the Internet for any relevant information on a certain topic. It then packages all of that information into a single article and posts it to Wikipedia. Lsjbot alone can create up to 10,000 articles a day.

Some purists may complain that using robots to do our work takes away from the creative aspect of it all, but others are welcoming the trend. The AP announced quite recently that they’ll be using robots to write up business stories — the heavily data-reliant kinds of news pieces that don’t warrant a whole lot of creative spin or emotional tone. The kinds of stories, in other words, that robots will be great at writing. As one reporter over at Slate pointed out, writers hate having to spend time on those kinds of stories, anyway, so why not hand them over to the bots?

And, eventually, if the big magazines, newspapers, and blogs no longer have to pay people to write up those kinds of pieces, perhaps they’ll be able to spend their money on the more creative pieces that staff and freelance writers alike are currently duking it out for. At least, that’s what some folks seem to think.

It’s not just the writing scene where robots are taking over, either. Babysitters, astronauts, store clerks, and even taxi cab drivers may soon be replaced by robots, if people can get over their intense fear of the rise of Sentient AI.

So, yeah, there are definitely reasons to fear robots, especially if they’re going to make humans obsolete in certain parts of the workplace. But you can choose to be optimistic and hope that one day humans and bots will be able to live together in peace.

In other words, is anyone looking to hire freelance writers? We may know a few in need of new jobs.

[Pic via Flickr - Brett Jordan]

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