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Microsoft will replace humans with robots to curate MSN’s news stories, according to The Seattle Times and The Guardian.

MSN continues dominating as one of the most-visited websites globally, but Microsoft sees an opportunity to cut costs anyway and let artificial intelligence manage news production. It appears that nearly 80 contractors in the United States and the United Kingdom are getting let go, and robots will replace them entirely. Full-time staff, meanwhile, will remain at Microsoft even after MSN shifts to rely on artificial intelligence to oversee operations.

It’ll use artificial intelligence to identify stories, modify their headlines or images, and redistribute them. MSN offered original reporting until 2013, and then Microsoft pivoted the platform to aggregate existing content from other media outlets. Microsoft pays its partners fees to redistribute their content.

“Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Seattle Times. “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.”

Contractors assigned to MSN didn’t focus on news curation only. MSN needed these contractors to also maintain editorial calendars across a portfolio of partners.

Everyone just needs to wait and see how MSN performs under an artificial intelligence-based structure. Robots can act quickly, but they’re often unable to analyze content that may be harmful. In the reports, several contractors expressed the same feeling that Microsoft’s artificial intelligence might accidentally put explicit text or images on MSN’s homepage. Microsoft will roll out a well-designed algorithm, and yet MSN could still experience missteps that humans could easily avoid.

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