Can an Algorithm Write a Better News Story Than a Human Reporter?

From Wired, an article by Steven Levy about Narrative Science, a company that does this. Its cofounder has a prediction:

I asked Kristian Hammond what percentage of news would be written by computers in 15 years. “More than 90 percent.”

I am presuming they could still structure bias so New York Times readers wouldn’t feel cheated.

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10 stories of old age

From The Guardian, Paul Baily’s top 10 stories of old age—and I enjoyed this comment in the introduction:

Old age is a fact of life and should not be isolated from it. More sentimental rubbish has been written about the ‘plight of the elderly’ than I can bear to contemplate.

The list:

Continue reading

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15 Famous Authors on Why They Write

From Flavorwire. the introduction to the list:

Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four author George Orwell’s 109th birthday just passed, andThe Atlantic led us to an excerpt from the writer’s 1946 essay, Why I Write. The candid work reveals what Orwell believes are four explicit motives for writing. “They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living,” he mused. For Orwell, writers put pen to paper — or these days, fingers to keyboard — out of “sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose.” The essay examines how these motives influenced his own work, then boldly concludes the following: “I have made it appear as though my motives in writing were wholly public-spirited. I don’t want to leave that as the final impression. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery.”

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How Publishing is Rigged

In a piece titled, “People I’ve never laid yes on” from the above named blog, we see another example of how one succeeds in the traditional publishing world: Have the right friends. (Hat tip: Frank Wilson)

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‘Self-Effacement and Self-Importance’

This is too good to pass up—from Maverick Philosopher, Bill Vallicella:

To what extent is it a sign of self-importance that one regularly draws attention to one’s own insignificance?  I am thinking of Simone Weil.   In self-effacement the ego may find a way to assert itself.  “Do you see how pure and penetrating is my love of truth that I am able to realize and admit my own personal nothingness face to face with Truth?”

The ego, wily ‘structure’ that it is, usually (always?) finds a way to affirm itself.

Or a variation…”Humility is such a high virtue. See how humble I am?” Nonetheless, I’ve long had an odd attraction to Simone Weil’s writing.

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What happens if no one pays for music?

An article from Slate, filled with angst, and carried forward in numerous pages of comments. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

Several observations:

  1. I rarely pay for music entertainment any more. I listen to a few old CD’s bought years ago, but the expense was so long ago that it’s easily dismissed. For example, one no longer frets over the cost of a remarkable meal eaten in 2005.
  2. I listen to iHeartRadio, Pandora, or watch YouTube videos, none of which I pay for.
  3. I make my own music. If I’ve paid for anything, it’s guitar lessons and sheet music.
  4. I seldom attend concerts, because of the expense and the hassle. I don’t like crowds or traffic, so It takes a special performer to get me there, e.g. Diana Krall.

All of which is to say that I am a weak supporter of the music business. The industry only has itself to blame, not unlike the newspaper business, a place where the product has declined rather sharply in recent years.

I’m waiting for louder cries for subsidies for the arts, which I do not find at all palatable.

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89 Business Cliches

From Forbes (Hat tip: Ann Althouse)

I retired from corporate management a few years ago, but reading through these cliches brought back memories, and reminded me how “with it” we all were at the company where I worked. It also made me want to laugh at our perceived self-importance!

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‘Crazy for it’

From The Economist, a review of The Fix. By Damian Thompson about addiction, where the author argues that “addictive behaviour is essentially voluntary.”

Mr Thompson leaves no room for smugness. Everyone is potentially at risk from addiction, not just “coke-snorting hedge-fund managers, bulimic receptionists and absent fathers glued to World of Warcraft”. He sees no difference in principle between the high of illegal drugs, the sugar rush of cupcakes and the blinking red light on a BlackBerry that signals a new message. All involve the replacement of real relationships and real people with surrogates.

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