Robots replacing journalists and editorial workers for news coverage in Microsoft’s major news outlets, MSN, Microsoft News, and Microsoft Edge.
The company has been introducing AI into their work in the past few months, encouraging their staff to utilize the technology. Recently, automation has even filled more permanent roles in the US and UK.
Microsoft is using AI technology to scan, sort through, and filter out content that would later be published on Microsoft’s news apps and channels. Where humans were once used to curate endless streams of news and content, AI can help bolster productivity and even suggest image attachment to articles.
Easing the content gathering process is one thing, but some Microsoft employees drew the short end of the stick. 50 editors in the US, according to Business Insider, and 27 in the UK according to The Guardian have lost their positions, with AI-driven robots replacing journalists and editors in the last 2 months.
A Microsoft spokesperson stated that their decision to increase investment in some places and replacing or re-deploying others was a calculated one. The layoffs, that continue, is a result of a review of strategy, and not a response to the pandemic as many other large companies are doing.
Microsoft has been into news casting since 1995 with the launch of MSN. Now with over 800 editors in 50 locations worldwide, the company’s news outlets are at a much larger scale than ever before. Robots replacing journalists are an example of the company scaling up their production to stay ahead.
Aside from the clear problem of human replacement, new business models incorporating AI are doing so out of necessity. Without utilizing modern technology to its fullest, news agencies will have to upgrade their gear it they are to stay in the news game.
Undoubtedly, modern society is in the midst of an intelligence revolution. Robots replacing journalists may just be setting a precedent for other industries in the near future.
The future of virtual events post-pandemic
From virtual conferences hosting up to 10,000 people, to weekly meetups on a company or team level, the virtual communication space has seen a surge during the pandemic. What could the adoption and evolution of online communication tools mean for the future of virtual events?
The short answer? They will be there. Virtual events boast several advantages which companies and marketers will want to get hold of. In contrast, face-to-face events hold the same status. They are too different experiences, and as we will see, both have their place long after the virus subsides.
Let’s start with the advantages of hosting virtual events. Virtual events are incredibly versatile experiences, the kind of content you choose to show is limited only by the data transfer limit. Event planners can call speakers from halfway across the world to give a talk or attend a discussion.
Virtual events are also cheaper to organize, as no physical avenues are needed. Viewers can essentially browse the event content while listening to a discussion in another tab.
Companies with enough funds can supply their speakers with the equipment needed to hold a much higher production session or talk, including a microphone, face camera, and even a new modem. If not, most basic equipment will generally be good, and planners can test communications with the speakers beforehand.
The educational potential for such technology is pivotal in the 21st century and has so far contributed immensely to knowledge transfer during the pandemic and will likely continue to define the future of virtual events.
Medical professionals from all over the globe attended conferences and discussions to better understand COVID-19, and its lifesaving treatments. Virtual conferences and meetups were perhaps a key to maintaining communications and research initiatives across all industries in the past year.
In doing so, they have revealed their tools of greater influence.
One important aspect to consider in all fields is the data being acquired; with proper data gathering and customer journey tracking tools, companies can gain a substantial amount of quality insight into consumer behavior in any given industry; where the mouse curser goes, where the viewer’s attention is, and how much time they spend on a specific landing page.
Nevertheless, the human element of events will never be forgotten, and most business leaders predict that while virtual events take a new-found importance, physical gatherings have the ultimate advantage of human connection and relationship building.
Thus, the future of virtual events is certainly bright when employed properly.
The pandemic’s hidden digital divide
The current pandemic has really opened our eyes to the importance of interconnectivity. Lockdowns, curfews, and quarantines helped us realize how our progress and prosperity is a function dependent upon one other, and we can clearly see this on an individual-micro level and on a group-macro level (companies, groups, governments).
The larger the company, the more complex the ecosystem of partners and their interdependence. Studies show that this is particularly true in developing countries where brewing beer sustains millions of livelihoods dependent on a fragmented and traditional trade such as corner shops, grocery stores and small retail.
Naturally, as a company grows larger, a more complex ecosystem of partners is required, but what about smaller micro retailers? The current pandemic has shed light on a critical weakness for small retailers. In most developed countries, the general consensus is that citizens enjoy high speed internet access therefore transitioning a business from brick-and-mortar to online seems relatively straightforward (with some training and practice). However, when we look at other countries where Wi-Fi is not as readily available, or when citizens have to walk lengthy distances to access Wi-Fi, that’s when you understand the daily impact of the digital divide.
As the pandemic continues, access to technology becomes another source of vulnerability and inequality as smaller retailers struggle to make the shift to digital, which only makes it harder for them to deliver across their value chain. Businesses that played vital roles in their communities are now unable to meet the growing demands online.
The pandemic has forced us to face the issue of the digital divide; while some might think we are all moving toward a digitally enabled future, the reality is that there are many communities across the world still falling behind. The issue of what needs to be done rests in the hands of governments and leaders worldwide to ensure that digital inclusion is extended to all citizens and disadvantaged groups.
UK to rollout first-round of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recently gave the green light to rollout the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for commercial use in the UK.
The first batch of vaccines are already making their way to the UK, with 800,000 units expected in the coming days. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said that the NHS will do its part in contacting people for the vaccine shot.
Based on vaccine storage requirements (-70°C), hospitals will be the first to receive supplies since they already have the correct storage facilities; the first round will likely take place in hospitals for care home staff, NHS staff and patients.
While the typical vaccine usually takes 10 years to be fully accepted, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was developed and introduced in just 10 months.
The UK has ordered enough units to vaccinate 20 million people – around 40 million doses in total. These doses will be given out as soon as they are made available by Pfizer in Belgium. The first round is expected next week, and “several millions” will be made available throughout December said Hancock. He also added that the majority of the rollout will take place next year.
The vaccine will be free, and it will not be mandatory. In addition, there are 3 ways of vaccinating citizens in the UK
- Vaccination Centers
- In the community, with general practitioners and pharmacists
As we speak, 50 hospitals are on stand-by and vaccination centers in venues like conference centers or sport stadiums are now being set up. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will hopefully mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
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