The CIA’s Latest Investment: Robot Writers

The CIA’s Latest Investment: Robot Writers (Liberty Blitzkrieg, June 6, 2013):

I’ve covered the CIA’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, before (yes the CIA has a venture capital arm.  In that instance, I raised concerns about Palantir, a company started by Peter Thiel in 2004 and in which I-Q-Tel was an early investor. The post was titled:  Is Peter Thiel Assisting the Government in the Creation of an Authoritarian State? I hadn’t seen much regarding the CIA’s investment activities since then, until yesterday when I read about their latest investment in a company called Narrative Science.  The company specializes in computers turning data into news stories.  The negative implications of something like this in the hands of the CIA are endless.  I’d call it HFP:  High Frequency Propaganda.

From Mashable:

Chicago-based Narrative Science got its start by turning baseball box scores into readable accounts of games — not unlike a piece you might see in your local newspaper’s sports pages.

Naturally, Narrative Science raised many questions about the impact on journalism: Will we still need writers to pen rote accounts of the day’s events if robots can do the job just fine? Should more journalists move away from the “here’s what happened” to the “here’s why it matters”? And so on.

Despite its immediate impact in the journalism world, Narrative Science finds most of its clients in the financial services, marketing and research fields. The CIA fits into the latter category — the agency collects mounds of raw data, and its researchers would most likely appreciate an automated hand in turning all those figures into readable, actionable reports for agents and higher-ups.

“Narrative Science’s artificial intelligence platform analyzes data and communicates this information in a way that is easy to read and understand,” said Steve Bowsher, Managing Partner at IQT, in a press release. “We believe these advanced analytic capabilities can be of great value to our customers in the Intelligence Community.”

I wonder, will the robots be given human names in order to make it appear as if an actual human wrote the stories?  Crazy.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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