Artificial Intelligence Making Journalism A Little Bit Easier

If you’re a fan of tennis, and a technology fan, you will like this one.  I myself am only a fan of the latter, but I still find this pretty cool.  Wimbledon is using “Watson” to automate parts of the tennis tournament.  What does this mean exactly?  In the past, journalists would have to create highlight packages and annotate photographs, but now this job is being done using Watson.  Watson is a robot.  Well, kind of. Watson is a form of AI.  He can generate these highlight packages without any human input. He can watch a video feed, and identify the most important parts of the tennis match.

Which is all really cool.  Isn’t it?  Watson takes certain information and infers its importance.  For example – players shaking hands, celebrating in some way or even by hearing the noise level of the crowd.  Watson can use this information to determine that something important just happened. (I’m referring to Watson as a man, and I realize that “he” is a machine, but I like to qualify “him” in some way) In addition, Watson takes footage from six different courts and annates the reel with stats from the play on the court.


What’s even more interesting about this is just how efficient it is.  Watson generates a file in 50 minutes, which is then able to be distributed to one of Wimbledon’s media partners.  In the future, it’s estimated that IBM (who created Watson) will be able to reduce this time to just 30 minutes.  30 minutes!  Can you imagine?  In addition, Watson can tag photos to identify players and celebrities.  Which is going to make your searching and identification easier as it will now be found in the metadata.

Why is this helpful?  It’s going to free up the journalists from having to do work.  I joke.  But honestly, if you’re tasked with this kind of tedious job day in and day out, you’re not going to be able to report on the event itself.  Which is going to give journalists the ability to create more content.  And what media outlet doesn’t want more content?  The argument could be made that Watson is taking jobs away from someone, but I don’t think that’s the case.  After all, how important is that to the job itself?


Some would also argue that in order to “pay your dues” you need to do all of that crappy leg work. It builds character and helps you rise to the top.  But I think that’s garbage.  The world is changing and I think people need to be able to adapt.  That means to systems and technology.  Just because you had to put in all that work when you were first starting out doesn’t mean that the system shouldn’t change.  I struggle with this a lot in my work environment.  Just because that’s how things were done in 1980, doesn’t mean that it’s still applicable now.  We have progressed since then.  Even if the technology wasn’t available, I’m sure people would have come up with a better way to do something so we aren’t stuck in the past.

All that being said, I think this is a great idea.  I know we are using this kind of technology in order to make our lives easier, and better in many ways.  But I would like to see this technology being used for a greater good.  That’s always the platform that I stand on, so I will wait patiently to see what that is.