Fascinating, Scary Article on Computer-Generated Writing

Fascinating, Scary Article on Computer-Generated Writing September 12, 2011

Steve Lohr’s recent column in the New York Times is called: “In Case You Wondered, a Real Human Wrote This Column.” A real human as opposed, not to a zombie, but a computer.

The article begins:

“WISCONSIN appears to be in the driver’s seat en route to a win, as it leads 51-10 after the third quarter. Wisconsin added to its lead when Russell Wilson found Jacob Pedersen for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 44-3 … . ”

Those words began a news brief written within 60 seconds of the end of the third quarter of the Wisconsin-U.N.L.V. football game earlier this month. They may not seem like much — but they were written by a computer.

Lohr goes on to describe in detail the efforts of Narrative Science, a company that is developing computer software to write English prose. One of the company’s founders, Kris Hammond, said:

Mr. Hammond cited a media maven’s prediction that a computer program might win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism in 20 years — and he begged to differ.

“In five years, . . . a computer program will win a Pulitzer Prize — and I’ll be damned if it’s not our technology.”

Now that’s got some cheek, don’t you think?

Maybe someday my blog posts will be written by my computer. I just dump in the data and, voilà, a blog post emerges. Oh my, what if my computer can write better than I can?

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