Cyber Stringers, or “robot writers” aren’t getting the credit they deserve. In what can be described as a robot-written tsunami, thousands of articles are being produced every day by robot writers – and carried by the major news outlets – without any special attribution. Apparently, it is a real challenge to keep up with the speed of news in the “page view” environment. Apparently, mere humans are no longer up to it. Reality is, that article you just read and loved may not have been written by a human at all.
News Media Outlets participate in a contest for “page views.” When an article comes out at a competitor and begins to trend, there is no time to be a journalist and hunt down the story for your own organization – but there are robot writers who can re-write the article on the fly, in real time, at electronic speed – or simply carry it and reference the initial publication. Bots do this instantaneously, and publish too. So that in the world of publishing, media outlets armed with robot writers are never more than a few mere seconds behind their competitors.
And no, you won’t be able to tell. Algorithms running the bots have become so sophisticated that they can actually mimic the word pattern usage of individual writers’ voices. Bots are no longer writing simple earnings reports or sports scores, they are delving into human interest stories, into fiction even.
According to Kristian Hammond of Narrative Science, a provider of bot produced content quoted in a recent WIRED Magazine article, admins can even change the tone of the articles written “from breathless financial to dry analyst.”
“In 10 to 15 years.” says Hammond, 90% of what you read will be created by bots.
Mediabistro reports, “Forbes has joined a group of 30 publishers using Narrative Science software to write computer-generated stories. Here’s more about the program, used in one corner of Forbes‘ website: “Narrative Science has developed a technology solution that creates rich narrative content from data. Narratives are seamlessly created from structured data sources and can be fully customized to fit a customer’s voice, style and tone.”
But it’s all in good fun, right? I mean there is no way that the robots could cause, say, a world wide armageddon-like situation, right? Right?
The truly surreal but not unlikely fallout may look something like this: Financial bot writers create headlines based on numbers provided by (bot run) data services. The headline is such that it triggers behavior in a multitude of other unrelated bots – the very ones that currently accomplish 70% of all stock trading world wide.
The bots trade based on their programmed rules. Markets move, and bots report the movement in the news media, triggering more trading in automated systems.
A Feedback loop of cascading failures across markets enveloping the world; Unlikely? Not so much. It’s happened before in a very contained, small way – the “Flash Crash of 2013. It is well to note that zero safeguards have been put in place since. Zero.