Algorithms May Soon Make Journalists Obsolete
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04-05-2015, 02:19 PM (This post was last modified: 04-05-2015 05:28 PM by Kaneda.)
Algorithms May Soon Make Journalists Obsolete
I was wondering if anyone knew a bit about Narrative Science, a company in Illinois that writes software that can generate news stories and analytics reports from massive amounts of data. From what I can gleam in the article below, the company is pushing to make its software more nuanced, with meta-writers and engineers collaborating to set pre-existing frameworks for prose and sentence structure. As this software is becoming more widely available and its uses more far reaching, the usual terror is setting in for journalists and analysts who are asking how long it will be before their jobs get outsourced to algorithms. For those who get the gist of the source material…

http://www.wired.com/2012/04/can-an-algo...-reporter/

…how long do you expect the pulse of flesh-and-blood journalism to hold out? Have you already seen examples of AI reporting in day to day life? Am I being subjected to a Turing Test on this very forum? Your feedback would be much appreciated.

"Men willingly believe what they wish." -Julius Caesar
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05-05-2015, 09:34 AM
RE: Algorithms May Soon Make Journalists Obsolete
(04-05-2015 02:19 PM)Kaneda Wrote:  I was wondering if anyone knew a bit about Narrative Science, a company in Illinois that writes software that can generate news stories and analytics reports from massive amounts of data. From what I can gleam in the article below, the company is pushing to make its software more nuanced, with meta-writers and engineers collaborating to set pre-existing frameworks for prose and sentence structure. As this software is becoming more widely available and its uses more far reaching, the usual terror is setting in for journalists and analysts who are asking how long it will be before their jobs get outsourced to algorithms. For those who get the gist of the source material…

http://www.wired.com/2012/04/can-an-algo...-reporter/

…how long do you expect the pulse of flesh-and-blood journalism to hold out? Have you already seen examples of AI reporting in day to day life? Am I being subjected to a Turing Test on this very forum? Your feedback would be much appreciated.

Hopefully, a long time. Companies and organisations are not going to freely give out masses of information so that it can be computer analysed. And would we trust them if they did?

And we could argue that much of flesh and blood reporting has already disappeared. The US used to have Nellie Bly, Bill Dedman and Murrow. Now we've got Sean Hannity and Steve Douchebag (who aren't actually reporters, anyway). News itself has changed. It used to be about actual events. Now it's Gwynnie and Kim. John Stewart has a higher appreciation level than many "reporters".

We also have the "Judith Miller" approach - blindly believe what TPTB feed you and simply regurgitate it.

There are a few investigative journalists. Brian Deer (UK) - MMR vaccine (et al). John Pilger (Au) - Vietnam, Indigenous people in Australia (et al). Pilger has been criticised, of course, but I think some of the criticisms are over the top.
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05-05-2015, 09:40 AM
RE: Algorithms May Soon Make Journalists Obsolete
Well, for the generic information that is spread in instant moments with little input or research needed, yes that can and basically will likely be altered by such algorithms.

The thing is who sets up what those systems are searching out and seeking? There still will be purposes for journalists reporting on information that still exists outside of the highly spread word of internet mouth.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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05-05-2015, 10:24 AM
RE: Algorithms May Soon Make Journalists Obsolete
If all they can do is talk about the royal rug rat they are already obsolete.

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05-05-2015, 12:20 PM
RE: Algorithms May Soon Make Journalists Obsolete
I wonder if they'll actually start to join the growing discontent in the labor force. Probably not though, most journalists are dumb as bricks.

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05-05-2015, 02:45 PM
RE: Algorithms May Soon Make Journalists Obsolete
It's the act of reporting that seems to under the biggest threat right now. Sure, there may always be a market in the exchange of information and a demand for investigative journalists willing to get their hands dirty, but where's the motivation to learn how to string together coherent sentences and paragraphs if an app can do it for you? Being able to consolidate the information and give a coherent account of current events is becoming a less coveted skill. Laziness is the bastard of invention, but why should it stop at journalism?

Just imagine Narrative Science's software in the hands of your kids and tell me nothing can go wrong.

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05-05-2015, 04:52 PM
RE: Algorithms May Soon Make Journalists Obsolete
(05-05-2015 02:45 PM)Kaneda Wrote:  It's the act of reporting that seems to under the biggest threat right now. Sure, there may always be a market in the exchange of information and a demand for investigative journalists willing to get their hands dirty, but where's the motivation to learn how to string together coherent sentences and paragraphs if an app can do it for you? Being able to consolidate the information and give a coherent account of current events is becoming a less coveted skill. Laziness is the bastard of invention, but why should it stop at journalism?

Just imagine Narrative Science's software in the hands of your kids and tell me nothing can go wrong.

Unfortunately, journalism abandoned talented information presentation and writing a very long time ago. It's more about sensationalism and advertisement, like almost every other market.

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