Are Robot Journalists the Future of Reporting?
Categories: Tech

Are Robot Journalists the Future of Reporting?

Extra, Extra! Roving Automatic Printing Press Prints All the News That’s Fit to Tweet! It’s called the FOMObile, and it just might be the future of on-the-ground event reporting.

The self-steering print station is the creation of some of today’s most influential minds in design. It’s an ice cream cart-sized, solar-powered machine that generates real-time news using a complex publishing algorithm. It debuted at this year’s Milan Design Week, where it transformed trending topics from trusted sources like Twitter and Instagram — and even live speeches — into a free print magazine called FOMO, which was available to anyone at the event.

The FOMObile printed an impressive 12 editions during its first assignment, each based on various talks given throughout the conference and published in the minutes after the speakers turned off their mics. The resulting publications, now available to download on Dezeen and pictured here, look more like a cut-and-paste zine your skateboarding little brother made.

Excerpts reveal a patchwork of text, photos and URLs that any reader would be hard-pressed to follow. Maybe linear timelines and a grid-style layout are part of the plan for V2.0? Even though the final product itself might not be up to snuff (each edition was stitched together by a real life person before it could be distributed!), the process by which the digital and live data was gathered is seriously is impressive.

According to reporting done by Motherboard, the FOMObile’s coverage of an event gets more robust the more people are present and interacting both online and IRL. So its programmed talents are best used at destination-style conferences like Milan Design Week, or even South by Southwest. We know we’d DIE to have the machine roll up at our own event Re:Make, where it could report on the buzz made by our favorite makers, technologists and inventors as we all talk technology and how its re-inventing the way we make. It’s basically the beat that FOMObile was MADE to follow.

But what’s the point of printing a slew of concentrated status updates? According to reports, FOMO was mostly an experiment to see how the *sigh* dead medium of print can stay relevant in our modern world filled with automatically updated news feeds. Its creation of an instant physical record is indeed one way to give greater heft to our almost reflexive digital actions, both the active and passive ones (how many listicles have YOU scrolled through today?).

However, FOMObile was NOT created to fully automate the news (fellow journalists, EXHALE). Try instead thinking of the machine as an alternative method through which reporting can be done. Imagine what an invaluable partner FOMObile would make at uprisings or riots, events where it would be much safer to let a robot do the investigating and have a reporter analyze the on-the-ground data behind safe walls. Or at monumental events like a presidential inauguration rally where crowds would be eager to take home a souvenir that captures the thrill of the moment? See, robots and humans can live together in harmony… at least for now.

What are your thoughts on FOMO? Would you read it? Do you think there’s a place for real-time print publications in our digital-tipped world? Tell us in the comments below.

(h/t Dezeen, Motherboard)