Kristian Hammond, co-founder of algorithm journalism company Narrative Science, predicts it will happen within five years. Even if he's wrong, it's only a matter of time:
Every 30 seconds or so, the algorithmic bull pen of Narrative Science, a 30-person company occupying a large room on the fringes of the Chicago Loop, extrudes a story whose very byline is a question of philosophical inquiry. The computer-written product could be a pennant-waving second-half update of a Big Ten basketball contest, a sober preview of a corporate earnings statement, or a blithe summary of the presidential horse race drawn from Twitter posts. The articles run on the websites of respected publishers like Forbes, as well as other Internet media powers (many of which are keeping their identities private). Niche news services hire Narrative Science to write updates for their subscribers, be they sports fans, small-cap investors, or fast-food franchise owners.
And the articles don’t read like robots wrote them.
... Hammond believes that as Narrative Science grows, its stories will go higher up the journalism food chain—from commodity news to explanatory journalism and, ultimately, detailed long-form articles. Maybe at some point, humans and algorithms will collaborate, with each partner playing to its strength. Computers, with their flawless memories and ability to access data, might act as legmen to human writers. Or vice versa, human reporters might interview subjects and pick up stray details—and then send them to a computer that writes it all up. As the computers get more accomplished and have access to more and more data, their limitations as storytellers will fall away. It might take a while, but eventually even a story like this one could be produced without, well, me. “Humans are unbelievably rich and complex, but they are machines,” Hammond says. “In 20 years, there will be no area in which Narrative Science doesn’t write stories.”
I'm trying to imagine the kind of computer it would take to replace our team of Stranger writers. I'm thinking a '95 Macintosh Color Classic II sitting in a pool of bong water and covered in "Fuck the Police" and peeling Obama stickers. It would be programmed to hate men on the weekends (for a feminine touch). And instead of analyzing sports games or financial reports, it would use its algorithms to predict the outcomes of porn.
Hat tip yelahneb.