Tools and Skills

Can an Algorithm Replace Your Writing?

Meet your new editor.

Composition Impossible

A new generation of AI and natural-language generation platforms promise not only to improve your writing, but also replace writers themselves.

Meet five new technologies that could make your struggle with the written word a thing of the past.

The Associated Press has increased its financial content by tenfold since joining forces with Automated Insights’ Wordsmith, a platform that automates earnings reporting. The platform has since expanded to include Minor League Baseball and college sports coverage.

PEG Writing
Targeted to educators, PEG Writing (that’s Project Essay Grade Writing) is a diagnostic tool that’s meant to help teachers address students’ composition problems. Science Daily explains, “The software uses algorithms to measure more than 500 text-level variables to yield scores and feedback regarding the following characteristics of writing quality: idea development, organization, style, word choice, sentence structure, and writing conventions such as spelling and grammar.”

Narrative Science’s Quill “turn[s] data into narrative that sounds like a person wrote it”, according to Forbes, which has partnered with the company to produce automated reports on financial market movements. Considering business reporting is already a field in which much of the writing seems like it was written by a robot, it’s hard to tell if anyone has noticed.

Developed by former Los Angeles Times writer Ken Schwenke, Quakebot is an algorithm used by the LAT to automatically gather information and publish news about earthquakes in the area. Debuting in March 2014, the bot hasn’t been flawless – last year, Quakebot mistakenly reported on a 5.1 magnitude earthquake in northern California.

If you’re not ready to hand over your writing to a robot, the WriteLab platform promises to improve your writing skills through… robots. The web-based tutor uses natural-language processing software and algorithmic insights to offer immediate feedback on college-level writing. WriteLab isn’t free – the service starts at $5 per month.


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