How Many Wikipedia Articles Does a Robot Write Daily?

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If you’re following technology trends today and the exponential compounding rate they are growing at, see our article about this here, you might have a guessed that sooner or later robots would write articles too. This is a not a new idea but robot journalism is growing more popular today as technology evolves. Like all professions, journalism is fair game for automation.

The computer program was created by Johansson Sverker and writes up to 10,000 articles per day and has completed more than 2.7 million in total. As reported by the Wall St Journal, the bot has contributed about 8.5% of articles to Wikipedia. You would need to hire 10,000 people to keep up with that rate if they did 1 article per day. Robots can process data much faster and they don’t need to take breaks. They don’t need light to see or weekends off either. Most importantly, they are not biased.

A key function has been to catalog obscure animal species, including insects like beetles or butterflies. It’s estimated that about one-third of his entries are uploaded to the Swedish language version of Wikipedia. Some people do criticize the method of using a bot as they believe it eliminates the creativity only humans can generate.

Sverker’s bot peels through databases and digital sources of information and than takes the best of to compile an article. Critics say it produces quantity over quality, only offering taxonomic information and leaving out other details. Now, this may be true to an extent but it’s also new technology. It not something that cannot or will not be improved if indeed it’s a real issue.

According the WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/articles/for-this-author-10-000-wikipedia-articles-is-a-good-days-work-1405305001?mod=_newsreel_4), “Bots have long been used to author and edit entries on Wikipedia, and, more recently, an increasingly large amount of the site’s new content is written by bots. Their use is regulated by Wikipedia users called the “Bot Approvals Group.” Popular Science also notes that the Associated Press will also be using robots to write articles.

“I’m doing this to create absolute democracy online,” Mr. Johansson said.

His ability to document relatively obscure facts helps him combat one of the biggest problems he sees in the Wikipedia community. Many entries, he argues, are made by white male “nerds.”

For example, on Swedish Wikipedia, he says, there are more than 150 articles on characters from “The Lord of the Rings,” and fewer than 10 about people from the Vietnam War. “I have nothing against Tolkien and I am also more familiar with the battle against Sauron than the Tet Offensive, but is this really a well-balanced encyclopedia?”

“It saddens me that some don’t think of Lsjbot as a worthy author,” he said. “I am a person; I am the one who created the bot. Without my work, all these articles would never have existed.”

Many article stubs are created by the bot with amazing accuracy and can also be seen as starting points for human authors to contribute additional insights as needed.

This is only the start and to embrace change you must join the dance. Automation will continue to progress with or without those who oppose it.


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