Multiple reports over the weekend have claimed that Microsoft has decided to replace all of its contract news writers and editors with artificial intelligence. The company won’t renew the contracts for these news workers when their current contracts expire, sources claim, instead choosing to use AI to take over their workload for its MSN website.
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On Friday, the Seattle Times reported on behalf of unnamed sources that Microsoft won’t renew contracts for around 50 news production workers who were contracted through a few staffing agencies. These contractors were reportedly alerted to the change last Wednesday and, the sources claim, they’ll no longer work for the company after June 30.
The full-time news production workers who are employed by Microsoft, however, will stick with the company, the sources claim. These employees will allegedly be joined by a new AI ‘coworker’ that will use algorithms to rewrite article headlines, add images and slide shows to content, identify trendy news topics, and similar tasks.
The news stokes existing fears over the increasing role of computers in everyday life and the potential for artificial intelligence to replace a number of jobs. One of the contractors speaking with Seattle Times called the business decision ‘demoralizing.’ Another contractor reportedly shared a similar sentiment with The Guardian, stating, “AI has taken my job.”
Questions remain over how well artificial intelligence will perform in this role; humans, after all, can readily identify inappropriate content whereas a machine may struggle to interpret which content is and isn’t appropriate for readers. It’s unclear how this AI will be implemented in Microsoft’s news pipeline, assuming the reports are accurate, and how the company will address potential issues like this.