Microsoft has reportedly replaced 50 news production workers with artificial intelligence. According to a report of Seattle Times, roughly 50 members from the editorial staff of Microsoft have been notified that – Their services would no longer be needed.
These employees are contractual workers employed by staffing agency Aquent and MAQ Consulting. They work for Microsoft News that runs MSN.com and other properties. They are responsible for identifying trending stories using an algorithm, rewrite headlines, and add better pictures to them. Apart from this, their duties also included planning content, maintaining editorial calendars of partner websites, and assign them content.
Microsoft is going to replace their production work with AI. These contracted editors did not work on original stories. Their main job was to select stories from other news publications and edit them as per Microsoft’s news format. Then these edited articles were shared on the website of Microsoft. The contributing news platforms share ad revenues on these published stories. These editors used to make around $35-40 an hour from this job.
Microsoft is looking to rely more on artificial intelligence for this job and thus, have decided to replace the full-time human editors of their news website. Earlier, Microsoft used AI to only scan content. But now it is expanding their work area with an editorial job. The report notes that readers will not be able to notice any changes at all on the news website. Yet, It raises questions of reliability on the news which can harm the user experience.
“The Company values all its businesses and assess them from time to time. This leads to an increase in investment in certain areas and decrease in others. Laying off of these employees is a part of that. It has nothing to do with the Coronavirus Pandemic and its economic effects.”
- Microsoft Spokesperson
The news came after Microsoft released its third-quarter financials for the fiscal year 2020. The company generated total revenue of $35 billion which is 15% higher than its previous year. During the report, Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, spoke about the increasing role of artificial intelligence across various industries. It is said that this decision is taken in the wake of delivering greater customer values and long term financial growth of the company.
It is often said that - Humans might lose their jobs to robots in the near future. The advanced technology-packed AI will be a lot smarter than humans and will do many jobs better than humans. But now it looks like that future is not much far!
Will these AI be able to work better than human editors or will it require human assistance for quality control? - only time will tell. But it has surely created a threat of job loss in the human world!