It's a marketing exec's nightmare: How do you pitch a story to a robot?
Perusing this morning's mutual fund news coverage, we found a Forbes
story on analyst expectations dropping for BlackRock's
] second quarter earnings per share, which we published
in our morning email.
We didn't see any explanation of why this would the case, as one normally would find in stories like these. Then MFWire
staffers realized that the story's author was Narrative Science
, an artificial intelligence algorithm that transforms data into narratives.
use the service, which began at Northwestern University as a research project developed by journalism students and computer science students. Narrative Science was incorporated in 2010. ProPublica uses
the service to create short descriptions of 52,000 schools in its database and, as we learned, Forbes uses it for earnings reports.
The only shortcoming for Forbes
, which apparently has been producing earnings previews this way since October 2011, is that the algorithms can't interview analysts and ask them why earnings previews are up or down, or translate why that should matter to investors -- one of the most important of the five W's of financial journalism.
Narrative Science has big ambitions. Not only does the company plan to expand through the journalistic job chain, it is also looking to develop software packages that can handle various financial analytical functions.
Which means in the future, stories like these might be written by robots, only to be read by robots.
Oh the humanity (or lack thereof).
To sample the robot's work, click here
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