You Are Being Replaced By a Robot!

by Lester Picker

It’s scary, alright. I’m on a flight to Denver and I just finished reading an article in the May, 2012 issue of Wired Magazine titled “The Rise of the Robot Reporter." In it, writer Steven Levy describes the work of a Chicago company called Narrative Science.

It turns out that Narrative Science has developed a series of computer programs that allow it to mine data from The Web and translate it into very good prose. So good are their algorithms that financial companies are paying them to interpret complex graphs and data sets into readable paragraphs that even lay people can understand. To quote my granddaughter: “OMG!”

So far these bots specialize in sports and financial reporting, in part because they lend themselves to formulaic narrative. But the folks at Narrative Science are developing ever more complex algorithms that they foresee will tackle ever more narrative forms of journalism.

Has it come to this, now? Are we at the dawn of the Age of Our Scariness? Writing venues are disappearing all around us. Pay rates are plummeting at the surviving pubs. Web writing sucks big time. And now, we are on the verge of being replaced by writerbots.

Stay tuned, fellow writers. It could be a bumpy ride.