I’m all for using technology to improve outcomes and make life easier, but this article from NPR about how a software program out wrote a human reporter worries me. Not because the computer was able to do a better job than a human writer, because in reality there will always be time-crunched journalists who produce content that’s less than stellar.
What concerns me is that instances like this help perpetuate the myth that the creative process can be replicated by technology. Can technology improve the creative process? Absolutely! But it can never replace it. However, if the message “journalists can be replaced” is said often enough and loud enough, it begins to become perceived as reality, whether it is true or not.
It’s the reality TV syndrome. Reality TV started as a cheap way to produce shows on the fly, and just like reality TV computerized editorial content is cheap, fast, and easy to produce. Before long, these types of media flood the market and the public become so accustomed to watching low-rent TV and reading skeletal editorial content that they don’t miss the full-bodied experience of what they had before. It’s a slippery slope – and not one I go down willingly.