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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Written by Robots

Ye gods, there is a business out there touting robot reporters

In their dystopian world, there will be no journalists, no copywriters, and papers will be produced at the tap of a key.

They train computers to write stories, and call themselves Narrative Science

And this is their promo:

There is no shortage of data, in fact just about every company we talk to is drowning in data. As the volume of data continues to rise exponentially, companies need a better way to use, monetize and understand the data they already have. Narrative Science helps companies leverage their data by creating easy to use, consistent narrative reporting – automatically through our proprietary artificial intelligence technology platform. We also help publishers who are faced with the constant challenge of keeping up with the speed, scale and cost demands of content creation. We offer an innovative and cost-effective solution that allows publishers to cover topics that can’t otherwise be covered due to operational or cost constraints.

Haven't they read Isaac Asimov?  Or seen the movie I, Robot?

As you can imagine, commentators are not ecstatic.  Steven Levy on Wired asks Can an Algorithm Write a Better Story than a Human Reporter?

Then he goes on to comment, that when Narrative Science created their webpage, obviously it was not a good idea to mention that "the company’s Chicago headquarters lie only a long baseball toss from the Tribune newspaper building.

"Nor would it dwell on the fact that this potentially job-killing technology was incubated in part at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

"Those ironies are obvious to a human. But not to a computer."

Aussie journalists are currently very upset because a large number of jobs are being outsourced to New Zealand.  They should be worried about the robots instead ...

1 comment:

Mark Hubbard said...

Some might say that the main role the MSM sees for itself is simply repeating government and company press releases: so, thinking of robots, the question, in fact, becomes ... ;)