On Business Insider, Humans Have Reached the Reading Level of Machines

Here is a story from Business Insider about the rise of algorithmically generated written content. It appears under an ostensibly human byline, that of a "Dylan Love":

Earlier this week we reported on Narrative Science, an artificial intelligence company whose product, Quill, can turn tables of data into a natural language story that you can read as if it were a newspaper article.

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Here's a sample report, in which Quill helps tell the story of a bested baseball team called the Manalapan Braves Red. Check out how naturally it reads, then know that it was all software that ordered and arranged these words, not a human.

Then the ostensibly human content-producer for Business Insider, following his own production algorithms, pastes the content of the "natural language story" that has been provided:

Cole Benner did all he could to give Hamilton A's-Forcini a boost, but it wasn't enough to get past the Manalapan Braves Red, as Hamilton A's-Forcini lost 10-5 in six innings at Pecci two on Saturday.

Benner had a good game at the plate for Hamilton A's-Forcini. Benner went 2-3, drove in one and scored one run. Benner singled in the third inning and doubled in the fifth inning.

The Manalapan Braves Red's Gargano was perfect at the dish, going 1-1. Gargano singled in the first inning.

The Manalapan Braves Red tacked on another four runs in the second. The inning got off to a hot start when Bullen singled, bringing home Cappola. That was followed up by that scored Pellecchia.

Is this not a persuasive rendition of human language? "Perfect at the dish, going 1-1." No human could dispute that a baseball hitter who has one at-bat and gets one hit has performed perfectly "at the dish." He is "batting 1.000." Perfection is noteworthy, and it has been noted.

We are aware that human language processing is able to make inductive leaps that are not always clear to machines. A machine, confronting the narrative message that an "inning got off to a hot start when Bullen singled, bringing home Cappola," might struggle to reconcile the information that Bullen (Person 1) was hitting at the start of the inning with the information that Cappola (Person 0?) was already on the bases ahead of him.

But the ostensible human "Dylan Love" sees no problem with that narrative. Nor does he demand formal semantic completion in the sentence "That was followed up by that scored Pellecchia." The text-generating machine was good enough at to convince Business Insider.

"If You Don't Think Robots Can Replace Journalists, Check Out This Article Written By A Computer," the headline says. This refers to the quoted text from the Quill software, not to the surrounding article written by ostensible human "Dylan Love." Either way, human readers and writers appear more ready to be replaced by machines than we had expected.