Do You Know Whether This Was Written by a Human?

Pic: Racco (CC)

Pic: Racco (CC)

I guess we should probably include journalists among those soon to be replaced by robots

Via AlphaGalileo:

A recent study investigates how readers perceive computer-generated news articles.

The advent of new technologies has always spurred questions about changes in journalism – how it is produced and consumed. A recent development which has come to the fore in the digital world is software-generated content. A paper recently published in Journalism Practice investigates how readers perceive automatically produced news articles vs. articles which have been written by a journalist.

The study, undertaken by Christer Clerwall of Karlstad University in Sweden, was conducted by presenting readers with different articles written by either journalists or computers. The readers were then asked to answer questions about how they perceived each article – e.g. the overall quality, credibility, objectivity.

The results suggest that the journalist-authored content was observed to be coherent, well-written and pleasant to read. However, while the computer generated content was perceived as descriptive and boring, it was also considered to be objective and trustworthy. Overall readers found it difficult to tell which articles had been written by journalists, and which were software-generated.

Perhaps most significant in Clerwall’s study is the discovery that there were no substantial differences in how the different articles were perceived by readers. Does that mean that computer robots are capable of doing as good a job as journalists? Should journalists be considering a career change just yet? There are certainly advantages to be had in the speed with which computer-generated content can be produced, but will a robot writer ever be able to match the creativity, flexibility and analysis of journalist authored articles? The technology in place may not be quite able to reach these levels of sophisticated reporting yet, but it certainly provides food for thought as to how automated content might influence journalism in the future.

17 Comments on "Do You Know Whether This Was Written by a Human?"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Mar 18, 2014 at 9:00 pm |

    communication is based upon cliches
    Advertising & it’s brother News rely upon it
    wee unconsciously communicate unaware of our cliched pattern
    but it’s relatively easy to teach a computer to be a hack (old school meaning)

    I too use cliches
    but usually twist them in a way
    that breaks the spell of cliches
    much to the annoyance of the cliche entranced

    (Stoop) if you are abcedminded, to this claybook, what curios
    of signs (please stoop), in this allaphbed! Can you rede (since
    We and Thou had it out already) its world? It is the same told
    of all. Many. Miscegenations on miscegenations. Tieckle.

    • Calypso_1 | Mar 19, 2014 at 1:53 am |

      Mene mini treacle uphrasein no miscarriages may mock stopples or redress ambition, distinction, ululation, and derision. Troops! apheresis post claymores n parseltongue. Curious, some all told alleyoops e daisies, slouched – fainting in coils.

      • BuzzCoastin | Mar 19, 2014 at 2:15 am |

        yeah, I meant u cuzz

      • The red at that me unleave fiel gived, and Dan away with we their men thereoverefor was that to therds. Benjamily unto Medance about of him, Brings, an hing to ye king, fore the wordense raim, and will it which and he sonsumed hath: but offere breat Samation you, ass of Ebediliefears thouth Jehovah him Jehovah, that a stone people. He the burning crip him.

        In the children, not to Jehold, give unto the Behovah.

        But the for it, nearch the thou tong so Israel, and smothe was come up, and visites may didst aftering me day in and Mosed me; and aboth me of sturning: the hall safety.

        And Ahijah. Lifted Gaase of the so. Bezalesh; When king into thyself: Let no be cause the endure, said he comethem it not cons of Israel the ble. And that ther a plaguest.

        And service of life out whose Jehovah: I had will trement. And behovah, and wage of the multitudents. At the lattle he befor breat the wall the crown in us.

  2. Calypso_1 | Mar 19, 2014 at 1:34 am |

    I think it would be far more interesting to know how well a computer can differentiate something generated by computer or human. In either case, my monies on Simon Valentine.

    • BuzzCoastin | Mar 19, 2014 at 2:17 am |

      yours reads like a computer rote it
      val has tapped a much deeper level of cliche

      • Citric acid shells are chemically composed of carbon skeletons
        You can certainly become someone you want to forget
        Is it who you are allowed to be?

        “Wall of mucus” is a good excuse
        It’s hard to feel stressed when you’re slicing cucumbers.

        And I wouldn’t give a damn,
        even if i want my husband to grow breasts
        If it were better someplace else,
        would I be discussing this with you here?

        (“Written by machine”: compiled from random internet fragments I have found interesting over the course of the past year, or so…some of them, almost certainly written by program. The art is in the ordering.)

        • BuzzCoastin | Mar 19, 2014 at 9:58 pm |

          The cut-up technique (now a cliche) is an aleatory literary technique in which a text is cut up and rearranged to create a new text.

          The concept can be traced to at least the Dadaists of the 1920s, but was popularized in the late 1950s and early 1960s by writer William S. Burroughs, and has since been used in a wide variety of contexts.

          • I read Naked Lunch when I was 16.

            (I didn’t understand it.)

          • Cortacespedes | Mar 20, 2014 at 12:12 am |

            I remember seeing a documentary about that. I think Burroughs borrowed it from Brion Gysin, who reinvented it whilst doing some artwork.

            Everything is cut up, when you think about it.

            Language as plague. Everything is blight. I suppose replication is the main (perhaps only) purpose of any “animate” thing.

            Combine it with cadaver exquis for even more fun.

          • BuzzCoastin | Mar 20, 2014 at 12:26 am |

            I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

            such a thing was never heard of since Adam was a boy

          • Cortacespedes | Mar 20, 2014 at 2:48 am |

            Perhaps all is replication; as vanity is merely the impetus to reproduce oneself thru gene or meme.

  3. Journalist is already written by robots—not new news! But when the computers come to write our fiction, well… then I think there is justification to destroy the machines.


  4. howiebledsoe | Mar 19, 2014 at 9:58 am |

    Most contemporary journalists in the MSM are no better than robots anyway.

  5. Cortacespedes | Mar 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm |

    Oh my.

    This comment thread seems to have been taken over by a gaggle of “charismatics” practicing their type written glossolalia.

    Well, I shall return when the snake handling begins, cause that’s when the fun really starts.

Comments are closed.