Dueling Computer Programs

A new computer program that writes news stories may find itself dueling with a new computer program that detects fake stories. Narrative Science writes news stories.Or, they may learn from each other. Steve Lohr, writing in The New York  Times, describes the new writing program developed by Narrative Science in conjunction with Northwestern University. Stories produced by the program have won praise from experts in artificial intelligence and language as well as journalists and, so far has attracted, 20 customers including The Big Ten Network and a construction industry trade publisher.

The latter uses Narrative Science to provide 500-word monthly trend reports on more than 350 local housing markets. (The bad news for writers is that they are produced for $10 each.). Researchers at Cornell University developed the fake story detection program. Eric Smalley writes in CNET News’ Crave Blog, “the Cornell software learns to spot the type of language people use when they’re being deceptive in writing a review,’ said Myle Ott, the Cornell computer science graduate student who led the research.”

Applying the same technique to robot-written stories could accelerate the development of both programs. Computers teaching computers and multiplying capacity to think until they reach and exceed the 100 billion neurons in the human brain will be when – for those who believe in it – the world reaches the Nirvana of Singularity. As described by Ashlee Vance in The New York Times, Singularity is, “a time, possibly just aThe Singularity couple decades from now, when a superior intelligence will dominate and life will take on an altered form that we can’t predict or comprehend in our current, limited state. At that point, the Singularity holds, human beings and machines will so effortlessly and elegantly merge that poor health, the ravages of old age and even death itself will all be things of the past.” That’s the Silicon Valley version where Singularity University is located. In Amsterdam that outcome is matched with concerns about possible dire consequences of the Singularity, nothing small, like totally reshaping the communications industry, how about like destroying the solar system! The advice from there as computers get more and more powerful, “We must guard against passivity among smart people who stop solving problems while they are waiting for ‘the rapture of the nerds’.”

Preliminary results from a recent Time, Inc. study support the idea that technology is changing brain functions. It indicates that the brains of Millennials are, in fact, wired differently for media than older generations. As reported in Media Daily News by Joe Mandese.