A Chicago technology start up called Narrative Science is looking to make machines into journalists. Actually, it wants to make machines better journalists. The company has already succeeded at turning raw sports data into blow-by-blow post-game reports, from little league games to Big Ten collegiate competitions. Journalists hired by the tech firm help teach engineers how to build templates that notice the important points of a game: Was it a narrow victory or a blowout? Did one player have an exceptional game? Did a losing streak end? The writing algorithms have yet to make the sort of embarrassing mistakes one might expect.
What’s the Big Idea?
Kristian Hammond, Narrative Science’s chief technology officer, has made some bold predictions about the future of journalism. Within 15 years, he says, 90% of journalism will be written by machines; within five years, a robot will have won a Pulitzer Prize. Because the company’s algorithms rely on crunching data, figure-heavy industries like sports and finance are currently natural fits. But as digital devices begin to measure more and more of our lives, and natural language technology continues to advance, expect to see auto-written articles in a diverse range of fields.