Computers are better writers than a lot of people

I don't know if this is an indictment of journalism today or a small piece of support evidence for my least popular opinion ever:

Robot Sportswriter Outperforms Human (NPR)
The writer of that [terrible story that people assumed was written by a robot] — it turns out — was a living, breathing human being. But the creators of Narrative Science, a news-writing software program, took Deadspin's assumption as fighting words. They set out to prove that their system could produce a better story.
"We actually got hold of the information director of the school, we got the raw material, the numbers around the story," said Kris Hammond, chief technology officer of Narrative Science. "And we fed it to our system, which wrote the story, where the headline and the lead were focused on the fact that it was a no-hitter. Because how could you write a baseball story and not notice that it was a no hitter? I mean what kind of writer or machine would you be?"
I'll say it again (this is twice): Computers will be able to replicate every human creative activity within our lifetimes, and this is a good thing.

I've included the full text of the robot's article below the jump.

Tuesday was a great day for W. Roberts, as the junior pitcher threw a perfect game to carry Virginia to a 2-0 victory over George Washington at Davenport Field.
Twenty-seven Colonials came to the plate and the Virginia pitcher vanquished them all, pitching a perfect game. He struck out 10 batters while recording his momentous feat. Roberts got Ryan Thomas to ground out for the final out of the game.
Tom Gately came up short on the rubber for the Colonials, recording a loss. He went three innings, walked two, struck out one, and allowed two runs.
The Cavaliers went up for good in the fourth, scoring two runs on a fielder's choice and a balk.


  1. It hardly seems an achievement to create a program that could output a single paragraph based on a box score. No mention of how the players looked or performed beyond a recitation of the basic stats for the pitchers, nothing on pitch choice or command. No mention of the plays that resulted in the only two runs in the game beyond 'a fielder's choice and a balk.' The program didn't even think it was important to name the players that scored.

    I realize that baseball is a completely boring game and that boring games result in boring stories, but there was no information presented there that couldn't have been better presented by the simple box score.


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