Like any proud papa, Narrative Science cofounder and CTO Kristian Hammond has ambitions for his article-writing algorithm. In 15 years, he told Wired, 90 percent of news will be computer-generated. In 20 years, there’ll be no topic his company doesn’t cover. He even believes that a computer will win the Pulitzer Prize within five years. Well, it is Big Data Week, after all.
Narrative Science got its start covering the data-driven topics of sports and finance. Then came work from a fast-food company, turning sales figures into regular written reports for franchise-owners. Nowadays, they can even vary tone. Hammond wants to see the company breaking news, though that’ll require investment in data mining and natural language processing. All that leads to a future that looks a little something like this, according to Wired:
Maybe at some point, humans and algorithms will collaborate, with each partner playing to its strength. Computers, with their flawless memories and ability to access data, might act as legmen to human writers. Or vice versa, human reporters might interview subjects and pick up stray details—and then send them to a computer that writes it all up. As the computers get more accomplished and have access to more and more data, their limitations as storytellers will fall away.
But can computers produce umpteen gazillion slightly varied versions of The Hunger Games, to capitalize on the latest money-making publishing fad? Asking for a friend.