Robots 1 – Humans 0 : The rise of the robotic pundit

Alfred Gilbert
Thu, 24 Aug 2017
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You have likely read about the inevitable robotic takeover. Robots are coming for your job, and there is nothing you can do about it!


Until now, this may have seemed a very far of issue. Yes, robots now form a huge part of many cornerstone industrial sectors like manufacturing and agriculture. But, for the more creative roles, there is still only room for a human brain. Right?

Well think again! In a very grounding revelation, South Korea have announced the development of robotic journalists. These ‘Soccerbots’ are being used to report 2017’s Premier League matches. Not only should this cause concern for those looking to enter the world of punditry, but we should also question how this development relates to our current understandings of human – AI/Robotic/Automation relationships.


The Robotic Pundit


As mentioned, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency are using computer software to write match reports following the start of the Premier League Season.


This system has been created to mimic the writing style of human sports reporters. ‘Soccerbot’ currently writes in Korean, mining a database of previous articles and reports for phrases that are regularly used by Yonhap’s writers. Soccerbot then edits and checks the grammar, spelling and factual information of its copy, before releasing its final report. It is not clear yet whether human sub-editors are still required to check the work, or if the robot has taken control of the end-to-end process.

Soccerbot was actually put to work during the 2016-17 season, where it wrote 380 articles. The systems was able to fill its copy between one and two seconds of the referee’s final whistle. We have to ask, could you do that?



Looking forward


Looking forward, Yonhap have confirmed they are developing a piece of equipment to do the same job for the 2018 Winter Olympics, to be held in the county of Pyeongchang in Northern South Korea.


This raises interesting questions in relation to the development of human and robotic labour. We have historically considered the more creative roles in our society to be exempt from threat of robotic takeover. Are we too proud to think that a robot or system cannot be programmed to ‘think’ and produce with the same creativity as ourselves? Or rather than pride, is it naivety to the power of these programmes and technologies that we are struggling with?


It is an interesting question, and one that, whether we like it or not, will be answered within our lifetime. It is just a matter of waiting to see if technological and AI progression will increase at the rapid level we have seen since the turn of the century.


What do you think? Are there any career paths that you feel are safe from robotic takeover?

Are we too proud to think that a robot or system cannot be programmed to ‘think’ and produce with the same creativity as ourselves?

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