Can You Detect The Robot Journalist?

A recent study published in Journalism Practice demonstrated that the software to generate articles of interest was getting very good. Can you tell the difference between the two samples below. One was written by a human journalist, the other by a computer running special software.

Can you tell the difference?

(The first sample)

Clerwall writes of test subjects' feedback: ‟[T]he software-generated content … [was] perceived as, for example, descriptive, boring and objective, but not necessarily discernible from content written by journalists.”

The students said that they found the article written by the computer significantly more informative and trustworthy than the one written the journalist; however, they noted that it was far less pleasant to read.

‟Perhaps the most interesting result in the study is that there are [almost] no … significant differences in how the two texts are perceived by the respondents,” Clerwall wrote. ‟The lack of difference may be seen as an indicator that the software is doing a good job, or it may indicate that the journalist is doing a poor job – or perhaps both are doing a good (or poor) job?”

(The second sample)

The first sample was written by the computer.

In his 1963 short story If There Were No Benny Cemoli, Philip K. Dick introduces the idea of a homeostatic newspaper, described as

...a vast complex electronic organism buried deep in the ground, responsible to no one, guided solely by its own ruling circuits...

The edition, when it was laid on his desk by a bustling CURBman, surprised him by its accuracy. Even in its dormant state, the newspaper had somehow managed not to fall behind events. It's receptors had kept going...

It was uncanny, Hood thought as he read the lead article. The very news-gathering services of the homeopape had reached into his own life, had digested and then inserted into the lead article even the discussion between himself and Otto Dietrich. The newspaper was - had been - doing its job. Nothing of news-interest escape it, even a discreet conversation carried on with no outsiders as witnesses...

The homeopape gathered information by utilizing "news-gathering services" and "news receptors".

From Enter the Robot Journalist via The Daily Dot.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/11/2014)

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