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Big Tech and the Dawn of Artificial Intelligence

By Chris Galley

For the last two years, Google has been spending millions of pounds on projects aimed at boosting both mainstream journalism and their own revenues. Now the tech giant has announced plans to invest some £25 million in the third and final year of their Digital News project. In so doing, Google is acting as a technology strategist to usher in the age of artificial intelligence via natural language processing.

High-tech investors want to put their money where they know there is significant promise. Artificial intelligence seems to be where it’s at right now. Why else would Big Tech companies like Google put so much money into something as rudimentary as journalism? To understand that, it is important to know what the Digital News project is all about.

Creating Robo Journalism

The Digital News project brings together Google, the UK Press Association, and other journalistic enterprises in 27 countries. Urbs Media, a tech start-up that uses advanced software with artificial intelligence to generate automated journalism, provides the technology. Their software can scan websites, collect data from those sites, and automatically generate news stories to be published online and in printed periodicals.

The concept of robo journalism is based on the ability of natural language processing technology to create articles that appear to be written by humans. This is no easy task. The human mind has a flair for artistic, flowing thought that is hard to replicate through AI. However, the technology has come a long way over the last 5 to 7 years. Far enough that Google is willing to spend.

According to The Register, the UK Press Association’s RADAR project will receive upwards of £800,000 while Wikipedia, Full Fact, Dennis Publishing, and Al Jazeera will receive lesser amounts. When all is said and done, Google will have spent tens of millions of pounds churning out tens of thousands of articles every month for newspapers, blogs, etc.

AI for Higher Revenues

So, what does all this have to do with high-tech investors? In Google’s case, harnessing artificial intelligence by way of natural language processing is not just about helping journalism thrive in the digital era. It’s about generating revenues. Those revenues are realised in two different streams.

First are the obvious ad revenues Google will generate by placing their advertisements alongside the tens of thousands of articles the Digital News project will produce. Second are the revenues that will eventually be generated by future applications of natural language processing.

There is coming a day when digital devices of all kinds will be operated primarily through voice commands. There is coming a day when keyboards, manual input devices, and GUIs will no longer be necessary. But all of this relies on better natural language processing. Google is investing not only in advertising, but also in a technology that is destined to eventually become the foundation of the digital universe. As with all high-tech investors, Google sees the potential here and is banking heavily on it.


The Register –

By Chris Galley.

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