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New reporter? Call him Al, for algorithm
AFP ^ | 7/11/2012 | Rob Lever, or a computer-generated facsimile thereof

Posted on 07/11/2012 5:27:22 PM PDT by Hunton Peck

The new reporter on the US media scene takes no coffee breaks, churns out articles at lightning speed, and has no pension plan.

That's because the reporter is not a person, but a computer algorithm, honed to translate raw data such as corporate earnings reports and previews or sports statistics into readable prose.

Algorithms are producing a growing number of articles for newspapers and websites, such as this one produced by Narrative Science:

"Wall Street is high on Wells Fargo, expecting it to report earnings that are up 15.7 percent from a year ago when it reports its second quarter earnings on Friday, July 13, 2012," said the article on

While computers cannot parse the subtleties of each story, they can take vast amounts of raw data and turn it into what passes for news, analysts say.

"This can work for anything that is basic and formulaic," says Ken Doctor, an analyst with the media research firm Outsell.

And with media companies under intense financial pressure, the move to automate some news production "does speak directly to the rebuilding of the cost economics of journalism," said Doctor.

Stephen Doig, a journalism professor at Arizona State University who has used computer systems to sift through data which is then provided to reporters, said the new computer-generated writing is a logical next step.

"I don't have a philosophical objection to that kind of writing being outsourced to a computer, if the reporter who would have been writing it could use the time for something more interesting," Doig said.

Scott Frederick, chief operating officer of Automated Insights, another firm in the sector, said he sees this as "the next generation of content creation."

The company got its start in 2007 as StatSheet, which generates news stories from raw feeds of play-by-play data...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: algorithm; journalism; reporting
...and here you thought MSM articles were written by teams of trained monkeys.

(But the very word is silly; as everybody knows, al Gore ain't got no rhythm.)

1 posted on 07/11/2012 5:27:39 PM PDT by Hunton Peck
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To: Hunton Peck

So you could code the program for viewpoint bias, as well - leftist, environmentalist, socialist, etc. The MSM could save a lot of money and keep its one sided slant, at the same time. It would sure save time rewriting history too.

2 posted on 07/11/2012 5:49:22 PM PDT by Truth29
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To: Truth29

HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer)

3 posted on 07/11/2012 5:58:41 PM PDT by Mmogamer (I refudiate the lamestream media, leftists and their prevaricutions.)
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To: Truth29
There is a video game recently out that has an algorithm as a newscaster. And yes, it is programmed to spin the news so that the audience thinks about it correctly.

And yes, algorithms can know (in general) what people are thinking in response to a news article, because they can monitor twitter and facebook and other places for instant feedback to an event. And if people aren't talking about it correctly, it wouldn't be that hard to keep adjusting it until they get the feedback they are programmed for.

4 posted on 07/11/2012 6:07:36 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: Truth29

New York Times articles are especially easy. Just insert adjectives and adverbs from one of three lists: Conservative (incendiary, shopworn, mean-spirited, etc.), Liberal (subtle, nuanced, thoughtful...), and Republican Maverick (bold, independent, courageous...). They already pretty much write themselves.

5 posted on 07/11/2012 6:14:48 PM PDT by Hunton Peck (The patient is bleeding to death! Apply more leeches!)
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To: Mmogamer
This is a conversation in a futuristic spy video game set around 2050 that came out in 2000. I find it to be one of the most creepy conversations ever in a game, film, or any entertainment. And it just keeps getting creepier, because since 2000 we have only gotten that much closer to building this system.

Deus Ex Morpheus Conversation

6 posted on 07/11/2012 6:15:43 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: Vince Ferrer

Yikes... creepy indeed.

7 posted on 07/11/2012 6:52:16 PM PDT by Mmogamer (I refudiate the lamestream media, leftists and their prevaricutions.)
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