WaPo AI Reporter Heliograf Was at Rio, and Now It’s Taking on Election Day

It'll be a human + robot collaboration.

The Olympics was the first real-life testing ground for Heliograf, Washington Post’s artificial intelligence reporter. Its next challenge is Election Day, where it will help provide reporting and results on the almost 500 races happening across the country both on Election Day and in the lead-up.

But Heliograf won’t be going solo as it did with its results-filled Twitter feed for the Olympics. The effort instead will be a collaboration. “We have transformed Heliograf into a hybrid content management system that relies on machines and humans, distinguishing it from other technologies currently in use. This dual-touch capability allows The Post to create stories that are better than any automated system but more constantly updated than any human-written story could be,” said Jeremy Gilbert, the Post’s director of strategic initiatives, in an announcement.

In practice, this means editors will be able to look over Heliograf’s written work and WaPo’s human writers will be able to add to it the things that at the moment distinguish us from machines, like color and analysis.