Robot News Authors

By Deane Barker on June 2, 2012

Can an Algorithm Write a Better News Story Than a Human Reporter?: Software is being developed that writes news stories.  It is given a set of rules to help it understand some situation, and it uses this to form a narrative.  Events that operate within a clear, known structural framework are the easiest targets.

[…] finance and sports are such natural subjects: Both involve the fluctuations of numbers—earnings per share, stock swings, ERAs, RBI. And stats geeks are always creating new data that can enrich a story. Baseball fans, for instance, have created models that calculate the odds of a team’s victory in every situation as the game progresses. So if something happens during one at-bat that suddenly changes the odds of victory from say, 40 percent to 60 percent, the algorithm can be programmed to highlight that pivotal play as the most dramatic moment of the game thus far.

Never fear, writers, this software is only being to used to write stories about events that would never otherwise be covered: little league baseball games, for instance.

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