Friday, January 30, 2015

"AP's 'robot journalists' are writing their own stories now"

Gets hired on Monday….Laid off on Friday…

 From The Verge:
Minutes after Apple released its record-breaking quarterly earnings this week, the Associated Press published (by way of CNBCYahoo, and others) "Apple tops Street 1Q forecasts." It's a story without a byline, or rather, without a human byline — a financial story written and published by an automated system well-versed in the AP Style Guide. The AP implemented the system six months ago and now publishes 3,000 such stories every quarter — and that number is poised to grow.

Quarterly earnings are a necessity for business reporting — and it can be both monotonous and stressful, demanding a combination of accuracy and speed. That's one of the reasons why last summer the AP partnered with Automated Insights to begin automating quarterly earnings reports using their Wordsmith platform.

You wouldn't necessarily know it at first blush. Sure, maybe reading it in the context of this story it's apparent, but otherwise it feels like a pretty standard, if a tad dry, AP news item. The obvious tell doesn't come until the end of an article: "This story was generated by Automated Insights." According to AI's public relations manager James Kotecki, the Wordsmith platform generates millions of articles per week; other partners include Allstate, Comcast, and Yahoo, whose fantasy football reports are automated. Kotecki estimates the company's system can produce 2,000 articles per second if need be.

"I wouldn't expect a good journalist to not be skeptical."

Philana Patterson, an assistant business editor at the AP tasked with implementing the system, tells us there was some skepticism from the staff at first. "I wouldn't expect a good journalist to not be skeptical," she said. Patterson tells us that when the program first began in July, every automated story had a human touch, with errors logged and sent to Automated Insights to make the necessary tweaks. Full automation began in October, when stories "went out to the wire without human intervention." Both the AP and Automated Insights tell us that no jobs have been lost due to the new service. We're also told the automated system is now logging in fewer errors than the human-produced equivalents from years past....MORE
Yeah, but can the robots balance three cups of coffee?
Or do photojournalism?

Journalisming like a boss #partylikeajournalist 

P. Murphy?
More links at "Robot Writing Moves from Journalism to Wall Street"
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