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Microsoft owns the news website MSN. MSN is a website that picks news stories from around the web. Microsoft then pays to put these news stories on the MSN website. Now, Microsoft is replacing its journalists with robots. Journalists at MSN pick which news stories to show on the website. About 50 journalists currently work for MSN but at the end of June, they will not work there anymore. They are being replaced with artificial intelligence (AI) which is now being called “Robot Journalism”.

Microsoft thinks the AI can pick news stories instead of real people. Some of the journalists don’t believe it will do a good job because they think it won’t choose the right stories. They think the AI won’t know what stories are appropriate for the website. It is difficult to teach AI to do complicated tasks like this.

Microsoft is trying to reduce costs. If the AI works, then they can have the same website while paying 50 fewer people. This is a huge saving to Microsoft but many people don’t like this idea. People are worried about losing their jobs because of AI. People in all types of work could be hurt by AI if it replaces them. People are worried about what type of work will still be done by people in the future.

Difficult Words

Journalist (n): A person writes for a newspaper.

Artificial (adj): Not real.

Intelligence (n): How smart someone or something is.

Appropriate (adj): Being a good fit for the situation.

Reduce (v): To make less.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English: Coming Soon!

Match the Synonym!

 1. Journalist  A. Smarts
 2. Artificial  B. Good fit.
 3. Intelligence  C. Writer
 4. Appropriate  D. Less
 5. Reduce  E. Fake

True or False?

1. Microsoft owns MSN which is a news television network. T / F

2. Microsoft pays other news companies to be able to use their stories. T / F

3. The majority of the journalists working at MSN will be laid-off in June. T / F

4. Microsoft is not certain artificial intelligence will work for choosing their stories. T / F

5. It is very easy to teach AI complicated tasks these days. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. news / website / Microsoft / MSN / owns / the

2. news / website / picks / is / stories / MSN / that / a

3. is / replacing / Microsoft / Now, / its / journalists

4. currently / for / About / MSN / work / 50 journalists

5. to / Microsoft / is / costs / trying / reduce

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English: Coming Soon!

Currently Replaces Website
Fewer Real Complicated

Microsoft owns the news (1)____________ MSN. MSN is a website that picks news stories from around the web. Microsoft then pays to put these news stories on the MSN website. Now, Microsoft is replacing its journalists with robots. Journalists at MSN pick which news stories to show on the website. About 50 journalists (2)____________ work for MSN but at the end of June, they will not work there anymore. They are being replaced with artificial intelligence (AI) which is now being called “Robot Journalism”.

Microsoft thinks the AI can pick news stories instead of (3)_______ people. Some of the journalists don’t believe it will do a good job because they think it won’t choose the right stories. They think the AI won’t know what stories are appropriate for the website. It is difficult to teach AI to do (4)_____________ tasks like this.

Microsoft is trying to reduce costs. If the AI works, then they can have the same website while paying 50 (5)__________ people. This is a huge saving to Microsoft but many people don’t like this idea. People are worried about losing their jobs because of AI. People in all types of work could be hurt by AI if it (6)___________ them. People are worried about what type of work will still be done by people in the future.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Do you think robot journalism will become more common in the future?
5. Is it important to make sure news is written by humans?
6. Is it ok for companies to be replacing human employees with AI or machines?
7. What other jobs do you think might disappear in the future?
8. Do you think people will find new jobs that robots can’t do?
9. Should governments protect workers from AI replacing their jobs?
10. Would you trust news less if you knew it was written by AI?
11. Is your job at risk of disappearing because of technology?
12. Are there any jobs that you think could be done better by AI or machines?
13. Are people overreacting about the threat of technology taking away jobs?
14. Do you think technology will replace jobs quicker because of Covid-19?
15. Are there any current jobs that you think will never be replaced by technology?
16. Is it a good thing to use AI for writing local news that isn’t profitable otherwise?
17. Do you think AI taking people’s jobs will hurt the economy?
18. How could AI make your daily life easier?
19. Do we need to protect jobs or do we need to transition to a new system of living?
20. What tasks have you noticed be taken over by machines in your lifetime?