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Tuesday, 13 September 2011 10:47

Computers can now write like sportsmen

Written by Nick Farell
y_newspaper

If you give them a crayon
AI boffins are interested that a computer outfit has come up with an algorithm which could mean the end of writers.

Code, penned by Narrative Science, can turn sports data and knock it into passable sports report. AP gives the following example: "Wisconsin appears to be in the driver's seat en route to a win, as it leads 51-10 after the third quarter. Wisconsin added to its lead when Russell Wilson found Jacob Pedersen for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 44-3 ... ."

Narrative Science, a start-up in Evanston, Illinois, claims that it offers proof of the progress of artificial intelligence the ability of computers to mimic human reasoning. It thinks that means that journalists no longer need to waste time processing datae data, like that from sports statistics, company financial reports and housing starts and sales, as the computer can turns them into articles. Artificial intelligence and language are impressed but only a little bit.

Obviously there is some downside to the whole approach. Basically sports journalism is usually written by former athletes who use English as a second language with grunting being their first. Finance journalism is difficult because it requires you to understand the numbers, which real journalists find difficult, however the writing does not require much effort. In short it can't do what a real hack does, although all of us have had to write that sort of rubbish as part of our training.

Narrative Science claims the technology would be primarily a low-cost tool for publications to expand and enrich coverage when editorial budgets are under pressure. These include automated summary articles for more extensive coverage of local youth sports and to generate articles about the quarterly financial results of local public companies.

More here.


Nick Farell

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