This Blog Post Was Not Written By a Robot (Yet)

I don’t consider myself a great writer. I don’t even consider myself a good writer. But I do take pride in knowing that I work hard on all my blog posts and that I always do my best to provide you, the reader, with interesting topics and some sort of personal insight. When you read one of my articles, you can be certain I’ve spent a lot of time on research, writing, editing, and rewriting. It’s also pretty safe to say that this took a lot of effort on my part. However, all this hard work may not be necessary thanks to robots.

Recently, The Associated Press issued an advisory regarding their business news reporting to their customers: starting in July 2014, the majority of U.S. corporate earnings stories will be produced using automation technology. There will no longer be a need for a human being to crunch numbers, write down information, or even use their brain. Instead, a machine will do all of the grunt work.

“For many years, we have been spending a lot of time publishing approximately 300 earnings reports each quarter. We discovered that automation technology, from a company called Automated Insights, paired with data from Zacks Investment Research, would allow us to automate short stories – 150 to 300 words – about the earnings of companies in roughly the same time that it took our reporters.”

– Lou Ferrara, Vice President and Managing Editor of The Associated Press

According to Mr. Ferrara, this technology is a “leap forward” that will allow AP writers to spend their time on more important things like beat reporting and source development for stories that are more interesting than financial analysis. Business reporting is notorious for stressing out writers due to its knack for constantly having to be updated, and having this type of writing automated could be a huge relief for those who don’t want to deal with the minutia of numbers.

Automated Insight’s patented artificial intelligence software, called “Wordsmith”, is one of the most innovative pieces of technology ever assembled. The way Wordsmith works is simple, fast, and most importantly, effective. In just five quick steps, it’s able to create an article that is indistinguishable from what a human would write.

How Wordsmith Works:

  1. Ingest data from customer (APIs, XML, CSVs, spreadsheets, etc.), public repositories, and third-party data providers.
  2. Create advanced metrics that classify interesting trends, records, deltas, and streaks, and put them into historical context.
  3. Find patterns and trends in an individual’s data and put them into context – benchmarking them against the aggregate population and making them actionable.
  4. Structure a narrative that tells the story around the most important insights. The output can be in any format: long-form narrative, short-form bullets, visualizations, tweets, headlines, etc.
  5. Publish content in real-time with a cloud-based infrastructure.

Wordsmith takes the pain away from certain types of writing; it also abandons the traditional publishing model of creating one piece of content that will appeal to many people. Instead, Wordsmith personalizes a lot of content for a select group of users.

“Wordsmith transforms Big Data into narrative reports by spotting patterns, correlations and key insights in the data and then describing them in plain English, just like a human would. Using the Wordsmith engine, companies can personalize content in real-time, via any screen. Wordsmith lets you write individual stories for each user among millions — driving retention, engagement, and revenue.”

– Automated Insights

Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, Automated Insights offers personalized content solutions for a variety of industries. Wordsmith articles are currently being read by businesses who want performance reports tailored to each level of the management chain, investors who want a simple explanation of their financial portfolio, athletes who want personalized fitness coaching based on their progress, fantasy sports enthusiasts who want match previews and recaps, sports fans who want player stats reports, and marketing agencies who want automated client reporting.

Automated Insights has tapped into a market that wants large amounts of data dissected into plain English, and this is something that not even the best writer in the world can do sometimes. With over 1 billion personalized reports scheduled to be written by the end of 2014, Wordsmith has the potential to expand into other fields, maybe even eliminating the need for humans to write at all. Wordsmith is so good at writing, that you may not even realize you’re reading it. Don’t believe me? Just ask one of their clients like Yahoo!, the NFL, or Edmunds.com.

This blog post was not written by a robot, but does it really matter? Do you think more writing should be automated?

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