Journalists replaced by robots. Already?
Hacks made redundant by algorithms. Such is the scenario depicted by Wired’s Stephen Levy this month (he’s one of the only guys to have ever interviewed Steve Jobs, in case you thought he might be making this up). He tells the tale of Narrative Science, a company which uses algorithms to pull together raw data and spin stories out of it. Just like real journalists do.
The company has above all covered Little League (kiddie) baseball games to date: insignificant enough for no major media organs to cover them; yet important enough for scores of parents to log swathes of match data in iPhone apps and the like. Rich pickings for Narrative Science’s algorithms to trawl through, pick out contextual data - is the team on a losing streak, for example - and add journalistic turns of phrase - “whacking home runs” - and then deliver the final “narrative”.
Financial stories have also become big business for Narrative Science, as this is another data-rich domain, with far too many active companies for one person, nay organisation, to cover.
Two of the most spooky things about this trend:
- The algorithms are ‘trained’ by humans, to make them better at context and style (for some reason I’m imagining a dog handler here)
- More than 90% of news stories will be written by computers by 2027, claims Narrative Science’s boss.
Time to switch career paths?