Reporting and technical writing. Saturday - Oct 16, 2021

Will We Soon Work Among Robot Reporters?

This generates such well written reports, you’d guess they were drafted by humans.

Algorithms can’t conduct interviews or investigations. Bots can’t write op-eds or draw conclusions. The natural language toolkit doesn’t have relationships with important sources. So your job is safe, just don’t try to do Narrative Science’s job.

Narrative Science is a robot technology that generates such well written news reports that you’d guess they were drafted by a human being. I interviewed one of the scientists for NABJ Digital’s tech blog.

Here’s my piece, “Will We Soon Work Among Robot Reporters” about implications of an automated service that writes prose which is indistinguishable from what real reporters write, i.e. if the reporting is only about things such as sports scores or financial analysis — mostly numbers-driven news.

This is interesting because while machines can’t conduct interviews or get out in the field or interpret irony or humor or tragedy, there still might be other types of news reporting that we could let machines do for us if they can in fact do it better. It’s at least an inevitable debate.


UPDATE: Response from interviewee:

“Saw your article earlier this week, really well done. It’s the most even handed piece I’ve seen written about us so far. Many thanks”
Larry Adams, VP Product Management