Forbes Goes to the Dark Side: Uses Artificial Intelligence Software to Write Earnings Previews

Posted on February 25, 2012

Forbes magazine has gone to the dark side. It has joined more than 30 corporations which are dumping human writers in favor of the software called Narrative Science. Narrative Science generates news stories without any human authoring or editing. A data set is fed into the program and it spits out a story.

So far, Forbes hasn't actually fired any writers -- that we know of -- in favor of the software. But it now has a section written by the software here. This particular section uses the software to report earnings previews for various companies.

Narrative Science was initially only used for data sets such as baseball scores. But now it is being used to write unstructured stories, as well. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company that owns the software raised $6 million last year and now has 30 clients, not all of whom disclose its use as Forbes does.

We can't see any upside to this at all for writers. In fact, the entire concept is quite disturbing. No artificial intelligence can create prose that is the equal of a human writer. Earnings reports are one thing; fashion critiques, book reviews and investigative journalism are a different story altogether. But that won't stop some corporations from trying to replace humans with artificial intelligence software. Software never needs time off, doesn't take maternity leave and -- best of all -- you don't have to give it a byline.

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