With mechanisation slowly edging into almost every field, the scribe, too, is sought to be replaced by a robot — in a first, a Chinese newspaper on last Wednesday published its first story written by a robot. The article, in Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily, was 300 characters long and focused on the Spring Festival travel rush, China Daily reported. Its author, Xiao Nan, took only a second to finish writing the piece and is able to write both short stories and longer reports, according to Wan Xiaojun, a professor at Peking University who leads the team studying and developing such robots.
“When compared with the staff reporters, Xiao Nan has a stronger data analysis capacity and is quicker at writing stories,” he said. “But it does not mean intelligent robots will soon be able to completely replace reporters.” At present, robots are unable to conduct face-to-face interviews, cannot respond intuitively with follow-up questions and don’t have the ability to select the news angle from an interview or conversation, Wan said. “But robots will be able to act as a supplement, helping newspapers and related media, as well as editors and reporters,” he said, adding that he was working alongside the Southern Metropolis Daily to establish a special laboratory to study and develop media robots.