Microsoft will reportedly turn to artificial intelligence for optimizing news on MSN, replacing dozens of human workers in the process.
Microsoft will not renew the contracts for about 50 news production contractors, who were told that they would no longer be needed beyond June 30, multiple sources told the Seattle Times. The workers are tasked with identifying trending news stories from publishing partners, and optimizing content by rewriting headlines or improving accompanying images. The manual curation of articles allowed for clear and appropriate headlines, while avoiding unreliable sources and highlighting content from smaller outlets.
Full-time news producers who are performing the same functions will be retained, but all contracted news producer jobs were eliminated. Some of the contractors, who wish to remain anonymous, told the Seattle Times that A.I. will take over their responsibilities at MSN.
Several of the terminated employees, however, were skeptical that with fewer humans on board, MSN’s model of curating stories from partner websites and redistributing them will not work as well.
“It’s been semi-automated for a few months but now it’s full speed ahead,” said one of the contractors. “It’s demoralizing to think machines can replace us but there you go.’”
“I spend all my time reading about how automation and A.I. is going to take all our jobs, and here I am – A.I. has taken my job,” another contractor told The Guardian. He added that replacing humans with A.I. may be a “risky” move, as workers had to follow “very strict editorial guidelines” that made sure readers, especially younger ones, were not exposed to violent or inappropriate content.
The artificial intelligence revolution has raised concerns that machines will displace humans from their jobs. In addition to journalists, other jobs that are at risk of losing out to A.I. include lawyers, drivers, customer service assistants, and musicians. However, there are ways for people in these professions to take advantage of A.I. instead of fearing it, including journalists using A.I. as their researchers, lawyers investing time to study computer science, and musicians harnessing A.I.-powered tools.
Meanwhile, the development of A.I. has also contributed to making life easier for humans, with functions ranging from finding brain tumors to filing for unemployment benefits, and even generating memes.
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