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Minor League Baseball reports by the Associated Press are written by machines

Bruce Brown
The Associated Press uses algorithm-generated copy to cover Minor League Baseball. The copy is generated by Durham, North Carolina-based Automated Insights. Other copy generated by machines include financial reporting, ecommerce, and real estate.

Wondering when “the machines” will take over? Anyone who writes for a living, or those considering it, should consider this a heads up. The Associated Press is using machine-generated stories to cover baseball, according to Venture Beat. The reports and stories aren’t for major league teams, but they do expand the AP’s minor league coverage without deploying (and paying for) additional journalists to attend and write about the games.

The AP has already been using financial reporting from Automated Insights, an artificial intelligence company. The Durham, North Carolina firm employs algorithms in a platform called Wordsmith A.I. to “transform raw data into actionable stories and insights,” Venture Beat reported two years ago. The Associated Press also backed the firm financially in 2014.

Related: Google’s newly launched Magenta Project aims to create art with artificial intelligence

Automated Insights uses data about the minor leagues from a separate news, game, and player statistics company, Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). The raw statistics are converted into sentences that describe and analyze games.

In an example of an Automated Insight-generated story from a recent game between the State College Spikes and the Brooklyn Cyclones, copy about individual player performance and overall game analysis reads naturally. “Dylan Tice was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded with one out in the 11th inning, giving the State College Spikes a 9-8 victory over the Brooklyn Cyclones on Wednesday,” the story opens.

In another example, the “machine” put the game results in a larger perspective, “Despite the loss, six players for Brooklyn picked up at least a pair of hits. Brosher homered and singled twice, driving home four runs and scoring a couple. The Cyclones also recorded a season-high 14 base hits.”

Venture Beat reported that Automated Insights’ Wordsmith generates other copy covering e-commerce and real estate, as well as sports and financial transactions. Another sign that the AP is going forward with machine-based writing is the hiring of its first automation editor. The AP said at the time it “has committed to ‘explore additional automation technology solutions’ in conjunction with Automated Insights.”