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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Rise of the Robot Journalists

robotic hand holding a pen

Credit: Softindustries

My journalism career began when I joined the staff of my high school newspaper. I prepared for basketball season by taking the sports sections of Tampa's two daily newspapers and jotting down samples of basketball lingo. After perusing several articles, I knew two dozen ways to describe the act of making a basket.

It took me a lot longer to understand that good writing required more than stringing clichés together. A lifetime later, I now realize I could have been replaced by a computer. The New York Times reported recently that artificial intelligence is being used to compose news stories.

Narrative Services has created a program that takes data, such as sports statistics or building permits, and turns them into readable articles. After a decade of experimentation, researchers' software can make inferences based on historical data, and can even develop "story angles." Advocates argue that the articles created by "robot journalists" replace low-level coverage that many newspapers no longer can afford.

From The Rock Hill Herald
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