Microsoft to replace journalists with AI

Microsoft has laid down hundreds of editors and production staff at its companies: Microsoft News and MSN. The layoffs are part of Microsoft’s bigger push to rely on artificial intelligence to pick news and content for MSN.com. Many of the workers affected are part of the SANE (search, ads, News, Edge) division of Microsoft, and are contracted as human editors to help pick stories.

“Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis,” a spokesperson for Microsoft said in a statement. ” This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.”

Although Microsoft says the cuts are not directly related to the current coronavirus pandemic, media businesses have been hit hard due to the pandemic.

Business Insider first reported on Friday’s layoffs, and says about 50 jobs in the US are affected. Microsoft News job losses also affect international teams, and The Guardian reports about 27 are being dropped in the UK after Microsoft has decided to stop employing people to curate articles on their homepages.

Microsoft has been in the news business for over 25 years , having started MSN all the way back in 1995. Microsoft revealed at the launch of Microsoft News almost two years ago that it has “more than 800 editors working from 50 locations around the world.”

Over recent months, Microsoft has gradually moved toward AI for its reporting on Microsoft News, and has also enabled advertisers and journalists to use AI. Microsoft used AI to search for material and then process and filter it, sometimes recommending images to match it with human editors. Microsoft had used human editors to curate top stories from a variety of sources on Microsoft News, MSN, and Microsoft Edge.

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