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A new fancy robot, called Author, is to take the place of human journalists within several years. At least according to some boffins from North Carolina.

Yabbering on about the robot in New Scientist magazine this month, they reckon they have designed an intelligent being which can take stories from news wires and turn them into snappy stories, thereby removing the need for alcoholic upstarts and wages.

What Author actually does is produce new stories from a store of characters, plots etc. However, by tying it to other intelligent systems which are designed to pick out the most important facts in a text, it could end up producing factual news stories, say Charles Callaway and James Lester.

In a desperate attempt to save their jobs, journos have been trying to find reasons not to be sacked. "It just regurgitates information from elsewhere. No? Er, it can't write properly. Yes, okay. Well, er, it doesn't draw a distinction between fact and fiction. Oh I give up, I'll get my coat."

The Register has asked Messrs Callaway and Lester for a prototype as soon as they produce one. If, once writing stories, we don't lose many readers, we propose to put it to work full-time and live in the pub. don't tell the bosses, okay? ®

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