The future is now? Well, it could be by the end of June. For there is talk that Microsoft is set to replace dozens of journalists with good old AI technology.
According to The Seattle Times, the company will not renew the contracts of roughly 50 news production contractors working at MSN at various locations around the globe, primarily in the US, but some in the UK as well. They were notified last Wednesday.
The workload of these laid off employees will be replaced with artificial intelligence.
The decision is not caused by the ongoing global health crisis, as its timing might suggest. Instead, it’s the increased focus on AI that has pushed Redmond to reconsider its approach for news service.
A Microsoft spokesperson:
“Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.”
News services still hold a key role in the long-term strategy for Microsoft, and Microsoft News is one of the big bets that the Redmond based company has made. Not too long ago, it highlighted how it had a staff of no less than 800 editors from over 50 locations across the globe.
The company will retain full-time news producers that it has employed, and they will now fill a similar role to these contractors that lost their jobs.
As for the job itself, AI will be tasked to take over a variety of duties. Microsoft is using algorithms to identify trending news stories, and optimizing content by rewriting headlines, as well as add photographs to slideshows.
Apparently, this is something that had been semiautomated for a few months, but it’s going full steam ahead now.
The age of AI has begun.