In a limited form, robotic journalism is already happening. The AP follows and produces earning reports of 4,000 companies via Robot. It used to track 400. The Washington Post used automation to cover the Olympics.
Algorithm to Replace Sports Writers
A Spanish startup is promising to revolutionize readers’ access to often unreported news. The unreported news in question, however, is not overlooked disasters or under-reported tragedies in far-flung countries, but minor league sporting events.
David Llorente, co-founder of Narrativa, said was inspired to develop an AI-powered content generation system after he tried fruitlessly to find coverage of minor league soccer games from other countries in his native Spanish.
“There are people interested in these things, in these leagues, in these kind of sports,” he told Motherboard. “The idea was to focus on regional sports. I wanted to write about football, but about Japanese football in Spanish, to cover this niche.”
Narrativa is part of the booming automatic content generation industry which uses algorithms to convert data sets into narratives. US company Narrative Science has received investment from In-Q-Tel, the US intelligence investment fund. E-commerce companies, including one in Germany called Idealo, are also investing in automatic content generation in an effort to find a quicker, cheaper and more efficient alternative to copywriters. In media, the Associated Press and Reuters are among those automating stock market coverage, while the Washington Post recently used automation to create briefs that were fed into its Olympics live blog.
Narrativa’s founders met as colleagues in the computer science department of Spain’s Alcalá University and are firm adherents to using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence—in contrast to a programmatic approach—to generate texts.
Will Robot Writers Win a Pulitzer Prize?
“A machine will win a Pulitzer one day,” predicts Kris Hammond from Narrative Science, a company that specialises in “natural language generation”. “We can tell the stories hidden in data.”
Recent advances mean that AI can now write readable, flowing copy, and churn out repetitive articles faster than the most caffeinated hack.
“With automation, we now follow and produce quarterly earnings reports for 4,000 companies,” says Justin Myers from Associated Press, the world’s first and thus far only automation editor. “Previously we covered 400.”
The ultimate AI “victory” will occur when the Pulitzer prize winning robot is judged solely by Pulitzer prize awarding robotic judges.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock