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We created and foresee ourselves using artificial intelligence robots to automatically “write” and post news articles on the internet in the near future.

Artificial Intelligence robots – or “bots”, for short,  are created by software developers in order to take on repetitive tasks that are ordinarily completed by people.

At the recently-ended AFCON 2017 football tournament, we produced content that appeared on soccer24.co.zw, one of the publications that we own and manage. We’ve previously made use of bots to create content on Pindula.com, as well as a ‘Facebook Messenger Quiz bot‘.

The AFCON bot uses artificial intelligence to quickly create basic yet useful reports on final match scores, scoring players,and other data-centric information about the matches.

We’re excited about this achievement and our journalists will get to focus on the more complicated aspects of the game, as well as the more opinion-driven content that we provide our readers. There are just things that bots can’t do as well as humans. For example, a bot can’t tell the heavy emotions around a near miss by a losing team, and/or the despair expressed by the coach as a country nears their exit from a tournament. The bot is freeing our journalists to do this kind of content which our readers really appreciate.

The introduction of the artificial intelligence bot, contrary to the belief that that artificial intelligence apps will push people out of jobs – an opinion held by many – the AI apps will actually create job opportunities. Jobs will disappear in the future, but new jobs will be created as well. Think about it; in 1999, all the jobs brought about by the internet today didn’t exist at all then. Jobs like ‘social media manager’, ‘blogger’ ormobile app developer’, or the possibility to do animation for a film studio in Hollywood while you’re in Zimbabwe, were beyond our imagination.

Back then, people had jobs at post offices where they’d sell stamps, and the postman would deliver letters. If anything, internet technology has brought about more jobs. Artificial Intelligence will certainly have the same effect of creating more jobs.

Deploying the bot was not without its challenges. With only basic data available for the matches at the tournament, the data just wasn’t comprehensive. This created a challenge for our engineering team, as the bot depends on adequate data.

Currently data is a big challenge in Africa, and we had challenges working with the data available. We are currently working on technologies to make it easier to gather this data ourselves. Even for a tournament as big as AFCON, data is surprisingly limited compared to other international tournaments and leagues.

The bot will be adapted to automatically write articles beyond the AFCON tournament theme, and that Controvert Media is especially keen to use the bot for the local Zimbabwean league, which kicks off in March/April.