Technology

The robots keep on coming: sports reporting, business stories and now wine tasting

First it was sports reporting:

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…

And the articles don’t read like robots wrote them: “Friona fell 10-8 to Boys Ranch in five innings on Monday at Friona despite racking up seven hits and eight runs. Friona was led by a flawless day at the dish by Hunter Sundre, who went 2-2 against Boys Ranch pitching. Sundre singled in the third inning and tripled in the fourth inning … Friona piled up the steals, swiping eight bags in all.”

Then it was business stories:

AP … plans to use automation technology from a company called Automated Insights to produce stories about earnings reports. The software means that “instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter,” AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara writes in a Q&A.

That does not mean job cuts or less coverage, Ferrara writes: “If anything, we are doubling down on the journalism we will do around earnings reports and business coverage.” Instead, he writes, “our journalists will focus on reporting and writing stories about what the numbers mean and what gets said in earnings calls on the day of the release, identifying trends and finding exclusive stories we can publish at the time of the earnings reports.”

Now it’s wine tasting:

Robots might be unseating the cherry job of wine critics soon. Researchers in Denmark have created an artificial tongue to find out whether expensive wine actually tastes any better than the cheap stuff.

The research, first published in ACS Nano, claims that an optical nanosensor based on surface plasmon resonance (SPR) can discern how you experience the sensation of dryness in wine. And they say this nanosensor can judge the way the tannins will hit your flavor sensors better than the finest wine critic can…

Arhaus University indicates on its website that the science behind this machine can also be applied on a molecular level to develop targeted medicine. “The sensor can be used for diagnostic purposes. It could possibly be helpful for discovering and even preventing diseases,” says Duncan Sutherland, research director for the study.

Mind you, being as good as a wine expert isn’t really setting the bar that high.

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