“Friona fell 10-8 to Boys Ranch in five innings on Monday at Friona despite racking up seven hits and eight runs. Friona was led by a flawless day at the dish by Hunter Sundre, who went 2-2 against Boys Ranch pitching. Sundre singled in the third inning and tripled in the fourth inning … Friona piled up the steals, swiping eight bags in all …”
This was the summary of a little league game penned not be a human, but by a computer. Written using data amassed from an app called GameChanger, whereby parents watching little league games entered real-time information about what was happening, this summary is one of 400,000 game summaries that have been written this way.
The company putting together such summaries is Narrative Science. Their CTO, Kristian Hammond, predicts that in 30 to 40 years, 90% of news will be produced this way – a cheap, efficient way of mining the mass of data that exists and producing effortless accounts of current events and developments that human journalists don’t necessarily report on.
The existence of a service like Narrative Science is not as niche as little league reviews, however; Forbes regularly runs articles written under the authorship of Narrative Science, that is, a computer generated article. Computer science applicants will appreciate the use of algorithmic science to artificially replicate a skill previously contained by humans, while English students may question the efficacy of a computer being creative.
This is not restricted to news stories, however, particularly demonstrated by Philip M Parker. If his name is familiar, it is because he has ‘written’ over 200,000 books. Not only technical information and manuals, but poetry and literature with plans to expand into writing romance novels.
The act of automating poetry in particular must cause us to think on why language is effective, and if language can be effective without a human hand penning it.