Friday, July 13, 2012

postheadericon Machines writing News Stories ....a sign of the future?

Call me technologically deterministic but I’m getting fascinated by Narrative Science's software which writes news stories.

A joint research project at Northwestern University Schools of Engineering and Journalism, Narrative Science uses their artificial intelligence platform, Quill, to turn any data into news stories without any human intervention. Their first automatically generated story was on a Northwestern Wildcats baseball game in 2010.

Narrative Science Chief Technology Officer, Kris Hammond (also a professor of computer science and journalism at Northwestern University) shed more light on their product at The Next Big Thing in Digital News Innovation - Chicago where he explained how they are creating content "in ways that were not possible before" by using raw data to get some insights, particularly in business reporting.

"From spreadsheets to stories", he said, adding, "where-ever there's data we can tell a story".

As of January 2012, more than 30 publishers, including Forbes had started using Narrative Science's Computer-Generated Stories.In 2011, their software published 370000 game stories and this year they expect to publish about 2 million stories.

Here's a paragraph of a story written by Narrative Science, published by Forbes:
While company shares have dropped 17.2% over the last three months to close at $13.72 on February 15, 2012, Barnes & Noble (BKS) is hoping it can break the slide with solid third quarter results when it releases its earnings on Tuesday, February 21, 2012.
What to Expect:
The Wall Street consensus is $1.01 per share, up 1% from a year ago when Barnes & Noble reported earnings of $1 per share.The consensus estimate is down from three months ago when it was $1.42, but is unchanged over the past month. Analysts are projecting a loss of $1.09 per share for the fiscal year.

It reads like a normal story written by a human, doesn't it!

In his 1999 speech " Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change", American cultural critic and media theorist Neil Postman said "technological change is not additive; it is ecological", adding, "a new medium does not add something; it changes everything".
While I'm fascinated by Narrative Science's new medium, I don't think it’s ready yet to "change everything."

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About This Blog

this is Vincent Murwira's blog, part of his research site Skype: theopennewsroom Twitter: @theopennewsroom
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" In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the
right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to make it appear that
it has." Mark Twain