In a development that smacks of Terminators and SKYNET, startup Narrative Science has created a program that can turn data into a news stories — stories that include, most humanely, inferences and an angle.PopSci reported the development.
Whether statistics from a football game or housing sales figures, the robot journalist culls the numbers and puts a journalistic spin on them, writing stories faster than human competitors can for $10 per 500-word article.
Narrative Software is promoting the software as a tool to expand and supplement coverage in budget-conscious newsrooms.
The program has been utilized by a reported 20 clients for a while now. The Big 10 Network, for example, has been using the software since spring of 2010 to recap their games. The articles feature human vernacular and euphemisms:
“Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in a 51-17 win over UNLV on Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium.”
With Narrative Science already putting out content comparable to Internet sports writers, it isn’t hard to imagine a future of excellent robot journalism covering our top news stories. One of the company’s founders was quoted as predicting that “a computer program will win a Pulitzer within five years.”
That might be a bit of a stretch, but more likely — and scary for those of us in the journalism business — is the replacement of human writers with cheaper, faster machines, as seen in countless other industries over the years. Once a computer program can mimic the human element, the actual “human” can quickly be replaced.
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