Media in the United Kingdom and the United States have reported that Microsoft is set to replace dozens of contract journalists on its MSN website and, instead, use automatic systems to select news stories.

The curating of stories from news organisations and selection of headlines and pictures from the MSN site is currently done by journalists.

Sources say that artificial intelligence will perform these new production tasks.

Microsoft has said that it was part of an evaluation of its business.

In a statement, the tech giant said: “Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, redeployment in others.

These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic”.

Microsoft, like some other tech companies, pays new organisations to use their content on its website.

But it employs journalists to decide which stories to display and how they are presented.

It was reported that around 50 contract news producers at the Seattle Times in the US, for instance, will lose their jobs at the end of June, but a team of full-time journalists will remain.

Some of the sacked journalists warned that artificial intelligence may not be fully familiar with strict editorial guidelines and could end up letting through inappropriate stories.

Microsoft is one of the many tech companies experimenting with forms of so-called robot journalists to cut costs.

Google is also investing in projects to understand how it might work