Feeds

Thomson hires computers to write news

The man-machine

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

To date, advances in automation have favoured journalists and generally made our jobs easier. Voice recorders mean we don't have to learn shorthand, wordprocessors mean we don't have to be good typists...or spellers...and voicemail means that some of us can, allegedly, tap into the messages of others.

But today my technological complacency was shattered on discovering that Thomson Financial, the US newswire, has hired computers to write articles. The old reporter's saw is that good news is no news, and this is certainly news to me.

Thomson has built some computer programs at $150k-$200k a pop to deliver automated articles on US market news. The programs can publish a news story on, say, company financials, within 0.3 seconds of their release to the NYSE or NASDAQ. This is purportedly helpful to hedge traders and others of their ilk.

Thomson's software compares the results with previous results held in its database, so the robot.txt can say if the company did better or worse than expected, the FT reports.

"This is not about cost, but about delivering information to our customers at a speed at which they can make an almost immediate trading decision," Thomson's Matthew Burkley says. "This means we can free up reporters so they have more time to think."

So it may free the hacks from drudge-work today. And we concede that Burkley is talking about US market news, which no-one reads anyway, except if they are paid to do so, sitting in front of their Bloomberg or Reuters terminals.

But tomorrow? According to Burkley, the computer-generated story makers have not made any mistakes. But they are very standardised - just like most US journalists then. "We might try and write a few more adjectives into the program," he told the FT.

Adjectives? Whatever next! Hacks, considered yourself warned. Hairdressers...you're next. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.