What’s the Latest Development?
A computer algorithm developed by the Chicago-based company Narrative Science has proven quite effective at crunching raw numeric data into readable prose, even varying headlines and an article’s diction according to where the story is published. “While computers cannot parse the subtleties of each story, they can take vast amounts of raw data and turn it into what passes for news, analysts say. … And with media companies under intense financial pressure, the move to automate some news production ‘does speak directly to the rebuilding of the cost economics of journalism,’ said Ken Doctor, an analyst with the media research firm Outsell.”
What’s the Big Idea?
It may seem creepy and perhaps conspiratorial for a computer to be writing what appears in your local newspaper, but because journalists are necessary to provide social context to whatever data is in question, objections to the writing algorithm have been limited. “Stephen Doig, a journalism professor at Arizona State University…said the new computer-generated writing is a logical next step. ‘I don’t have a philosophical objection to that kind of writing being outsourced to a computer, if the reporter who would have been writing it could use the time for something more interesting,’ Doig said.” The industry writing the journalism software says every media company will be partially automated within two years.
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