Computers as reporters

Adriene Hill Apr 27, 2012

Sure, we’ve heard a lot about robots and computers taking our jobs recently. But now they’re after MY job. Wired has a human-penned article about a company in Chicago that has programmed computers to write news stories. Data in equals a few hundred words out. And we’re not talking some gibberishy news like you get from online translation sites; no-sir these news stories are readable. They make sense. At least some big publishers think so. “The articles run on the websites of respected publishers like Forbes, as well as other Internet media powers (many of which are keeping their identities private). Niche news services hire Narrative Science to write updates for their subscribers, be they sports fans, small-cap investors, or fast-food franchise owners.”

This has been happening for a while. MediaBistro reports Forbes signed on in February. The Big Ten Network uses it. So do a couple dozen other outlets. Don’t like the idea? Might be time to get over it. “Last year at a small conference of journalists and technologists, I asked Hammond [the company’s cofounder] to predict what percentage of news would be written by computers in 15 years. At first he tried to duck the question, but with some prodding he sighed and gave in: “More than 90 percent.”


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