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This is interesting. The first story online from a major newspaper about the earthquake this week in LA was generated automatically by an algorithm. In the past few decades we’ve increased our knowledge of language and ability to process data to the point where reliably generating descriptive text about events that makes sense is now possible.

While the makers of this tool and the article point out that writing jobs are not under threat from this since no one would win an award for the kind of writing the algorithm creates. It should free up reporters to get more information and write the more detailed follow up piece, about the human stories. But I think people still need to be aware this is happening and it’s coming to wider usage. To maintain a job as a reporter and writer you will need to be writing creative, human, investigative pieces that cannot be put together automatically from data available online. Because if that’s all you’re doing, I assure you, there are people working on how to automate it, and eventually they will succeed.

For more on this see this Wired article from a few years ago about a similar tool that is automatically writing game reviews of thousands of little league baseball games in the US, games that no reporter would ever spend the time to write a story for.