A cynic might say that sports stories are already a little robotic. Much of what we read is by-the-numbers description of the action, following standard formulas. But, in the future, it really will be true. Robots are taking charge of the narrative.
The Associated Press recently announced that it plans to use automated systems to cover college baseball and some college basketball and football as well. And it’s surely just the start. As the computers become more sophisticated, it’s likely that they’ll start reporting on higher profile sports events as well.
The AP, which reached a deal with the NCAA for the coverage, uses technology from Automated Insights, based on North Carolina. Its systems take raw data–like sports scores or financial results–and fashions stories out of them.
See the explainer video here:
AP says that the robot coverage is in addition to what it normally does. The organization wouldn’t normally get to less important games that the robot will cover.
“We have many customers who want coverage [of college sports beyond big-time football and basketball],” AP’s Lou Ferrara told Ed Sherman at the Poynter Institute’s MediaWire. “The cost to staff all of those games would be huge. Now we have a low-cost solution to provide a high volume of content. The local markets will benefit from coverage they never got before.”
Automated Insights says its systems free up time for reporters to more critical and analytical work. Which is probably true. But it’s also what automation companies have been saying since the beginning of automation. Eventually the machine becomes less a tool to improve efficiency and more a worker in its own right.
Journalists, take note, even you are not immune: the robots are coming for your pay check.