Rio Olympics have just started and as with every Olympics event, its a massive deal. Apart from the actual athletics, a lot of interesting and enormous things are happening around it. All the major news outlets have dedicated large number of people to cover ever second of what happens in Rio. However, Washington Post is taking it to the next level.
In addition to the actual human beings, The Post has also setup some robots which will be covering the event. These robots are actually software programs, leveraging artificial intelligence, which will be producing hundreds of real-time news stories about Olympics. These stories will not only end up being on Washington Post’s website but they will also be tweeted through newspaper’s official account.
Jeremy Gilbert, head of digital projects, and Sam Han, head of data science, have a team of three engineers working full-time on Heliograf, the Post’s AI software. A few more product analysts are also working on the project in addition to four or five newsroom staffers who are helping in shaping the software.
The software will be publishing quick and simple reports about scores, medal counts and news bits which are based on data. This way the human journalists will be freed up to work on more complex and long stories.
Here is a sample of what the Washington Post bot will be tweeting. These tweets are created using data from 2012 Olympics.