During INMA’s European News Media Conference, Sören Karlsson, CEO of United Robots, explained how robot-generated content can be implemented in news media organisations.

United Robots started three years ago with MittMedia, one of the leading Swedish media companies. Its goal is to automate editorial texts. Like many companies, it started with sports articles.

Sören Karlsson, CEO of United Robots, spokes about robot-generated content at the INMA European News Media Conference.
Sören Karlsson, CEO of United Robots, spokes about robot-generated content at the INMA European News Media Conference.

Karlsson believes in the words of Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO: “We are moving from a mobile-first to [an] AI-first world.” For him, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is about getting machines to do human stuff, and in particular, to write stories.

He delineated three reasons for starting now:

  • There is a lot of data everywhere, which is the fuel for automated content.
  • The speed and cost of computing is now more attractive.
  • There are now meaningful platforms for these kinds of texts.

However, publishers’ reluctance to innovate is the biggest threat to the success of implementing AI in publishing houses, he empasised.

Karlsson thinks of his company as a news agency without reporters but with lots of algorithms. Sports, market listings, and real estate are all data-rich and ripe for algorithmic picking. The more Karlsson and company know about both sources and audience, the more they can use their algorithms to customise content.

United Robots already cooperates with Swedish news media companies, including the sports Web site Klackspark.com. Though it is a new concept, automated content used there has already resulted in audience and revenue growth.

United Robots also operates in the real estate sector, extracting data from Google Street View pictures and showing properties on the micro-local level, which serves an added value for premium content.

One of the biggest AI-journalism success stories is the Associated Press, which uses algorithms to produce automated earning reports. The result has been creation of 3,000 stories instead of a few hundred, and 20% of journalists’ time has been freed up for other work.

And what do journalists think about it?

It’s obvious they don’t like it, Karlsson noted, but working with news robots has changed their attitudes from neutral and negative to positive, he said. 

Publishers are likely to encounter the following benefits by automating their content with AI:

  • Dramatically increases volume.
  • Speeds creation and publishing.
  • Supports personalisation and hyper-local news.
  • Serves as a platform on which editors can work.
  • Makes data shareable on social media.