Newsbots

Newsbots

Okay, this is it folks, robot writers have taken over the newsrooms. Forget the corporate media hijack, now it’s software bots who are threatening to rule the roost. AP is in the lead with this, using software to create news items and business articles. Yahoo and Fox are also in on the act, auto generating sports items for the Big Ten Network. Why leave it to the big boys? The technology is available to all, although I am unsure how it will handle the creative writing sphere!

I might give it a whirl ( I never said that!).  New London Writers is proud of its community of excellent writers, all organic, fresh and original, but hey, in these busy times …. 

It sounds nuts, right? Ah ah.  Mad it ain’t, clever it most certainly is.

Natural Language Generation is in its infancy, so there’s a lot to learn along route, but how exciting, and how daunting; could this be the beginning of the end for human literature?  The Luddites among us may think so, and go ballistic!  Yet, like it or not this is the future for large scale information providers such as Associated Press.

So how does it work?   Essentially the programme pulls information from a structured dataset, rather like we do in our human brains, and reproduces it in human type language.  To begin with, you need a database, such as a CSV file.  The programme, called Automated Insights, creates variables for your text template, a bit like mail merge.

The good news is that it still needs human guidance, so the tone of the article will depend upon the pieces of information fed into the dataset.  So, there is a coherent signature to the writing, and that is because of you, the ‘writer’ or rather ‘the inventor’.  You simply input chunks of narrative data into your database, give the wizard instructions on what to do with the various variables, eh voila!  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!  (Make sense? I know. Me too).

Naturally, there is a lot more to it, but I can’t get my human head around it yet.  If anyone out there knows more about this technology please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

If you are going about things in a more traditional manner, and would like a hand, check out our editing and critiquing service. We will be glad to work with you in the old fashioned way

 

 

Alice F Wickham

Modest megalomaniac, and chief bottle washer of New London Writers;thinker, dreamer, and milk chocolate eater. Co-creator of a brave new world where poetry comes before profit, and you always get a seat on the train.

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9 comments

  1. Perhaps you will have, at some future date robots commenting on articles here and their grasp of language will be of such a high standard that it will be impossible to distinguish the bot from the human (unlike the present where it is fairly obvious that one’s site is being asailed by a bot)! Given that we humans possess emotions (and machines do not), I suspect that the field of creative writing is safe for the foreseeable future from the attacks of automated authors. Even if robots do enhance their capacities to the point where they can produce great works of literature, greatness is to some extent at least in the eye of the beholder, therefore there will still be humans who enjoy reading what we flesh and blood creatures create. Kevin

  2. Interesting post (just came across this), I think you are right – it seems that the newsbots can be a threat to human writers and writing the way we know it may vanish…or, alternatively, the nature of writing will change becoming more efficient. Maybe in the future, there will be more focus on creative ideas that are generated by humans but executed by robots

      1. I cant see a bot producing anything remotely resembling Keats “Ode to a Nightingale” or Dowson’s “They Are Not Long”. We humans love, hate, eexperience the beauty of nature etc. One could have a very clever programme that vacuumed up considerable amounts of the best literature out there on the internet. It would, however still lack the unique sensativity that enables a Keats, Dowson or Shakespeare to produce great literature.

      2. Well, there is Swiftpeare , the robot who writes Shakespearean sonnets, quite successfully, but what that will mean is that humans will dream up ever more inventive forms of language, forget the nuclear arms race, this is the true battle !

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