Feeds

Thomson hires computers to write news

The man-machine

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
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
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
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.