Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Coming to Yahoo: Fantasy Football + Robot Writers

Siri can help you order tomato soup. But what if you want to read a story about your fantasy football team’s exploits, immediately after the week’s games finish up?

For that you need a different artificial intelligence engine — the kind Automated Insights wants to show off.

Automated Insights is the start-up that used to be called StatSheet, which specializes in using computers to generate sports content for newspapers and other outlets. Now the company will be producing stories for Yahoo and other fantasy football operators, and says it will crank out 50 million narratives this season.

What does a robot-penned fantasy football story look like? You can see a mock version at the bottom of this page. Or I can save you the time — it reads a whole lot like a robot looked at the results of a fantasy football tally and generated a series of sentences.

But while Automated Insights’ prose won’t win any awards, it does do the job, in a very workmanlike way. And that seems to be the real point behind the company’s new distribution deal: It wants to prove it can produce a lot of copy, very quickly.

Automated Insights is roughly similar to Narrative Science, an automated writing company that also started off with robot-written sports stories. Narrative Science has since expanded to other kinds of stories, including attempts to analyze political chatter on Twitter. Automated Insights says its ambitions extend far beyond sports, too.

automated insights yahoo


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald