Written by human or computer?

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  • #7866
    missing_kskd
    Participant

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/03/08/opinion/sunday/algorithm-human-quiz.html

    This really was interesting! I scored 50/50. Last time I saw one of these, I nailed it.

    Generated text is getting much better. Soon we may be reading highly automated things.

    Here’s what I think about that:

    On one hand, being able to generate common sense text opens up a lot of useful doors. People who can’t read can be read to, or user interfaces can output more common sense options, offer help, etc… Couple this with translators and software agents become a lot more possible.

    (software agent being a thing that you can dispatch to complete tasks much as you would a human –the first ones are out there now, and I’ve put one here recently that works scary good)

    On the other, fuck big media. I’ll continue stepping away from it to ferret out humans offering analysis and other commentary in addition to raw facts. (which are just fine automated, as long as they are accurate)

    How will you do?

    #7896
    QPatrickEdwards
    Participant

    I scored about the same. Computer algorithms are getting better in this regard, but I also think that much human writing is reaching a “lowest common denominator,” especially in big media, which is dying a slow, painful death. Maybe as we get more millenials in the mix of society, that death will hasten. IMHO, given the state of big media, the death of big media is a good thing. If big media was a sick cat, we would have taken it to the vet to have it put down long ago as an act of mercy.(Of course, in my hypocrisy, as I am typing this, I am watching ESPN!)

    Now, there are some examples of data to present that lend themselves to small “sound bytes,” such as sports scores, on-the-fly investment data, traffic reports, entertainment news, things that either require little thought (because they are trivial) or a quick response.

    Since I am a ministerial student, I have particularly noticed the downgrade in writing in Christian literature over the years. As a part of my training, I read many English works(or translations into English) from the 17th through the early 20th centuries(Knox, Wesley, Bunyan, Baxter, Edersheim, Lloyd-Jones, etc). As I read those works and compare them to much (most) of what is being written today and released by mass market publishers, the difference is easily made manifest in my mind-almost to the point to where I am nearly embarrassed to see most of what sells well. Much writing with no depth at all, what I consider “cotton candy for the brain.” This is about economics, I guess that they have to print what will sell well.

    To finish, I do have to say that I have been greatly enriched by the myriad of great classic works that are available for the Kindle, more than I could read in a lifetime. Since my wife gave me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas last year, the amount of time I spend reading has probably gone up five fold. Many works that I load onto the Kindle and read are works that I probably never would have been able to purchase, borrow or even know about. One such work was “Chance and the Sovereignty of God” by Vern Poythress. I did not agree with all that was presented in that writing, but it did stretch my brain out a bit.(Much of the math was a bit over my head, dealing with the mathematical laws of probability and such.)

    Some of the lighter reading I was led to was a small “book” about the life of Alan Turing, “Unlocking the Enigma,” by David Boyle. This was not even close to being an exhaustive biography of Turing, as it was simply a long magazine article length quick read. Quite interesting, learned things about the Enigma machines and Turing that I hadn’t known before, proving that something doesn’t have to be a large tome to be good.

    #7897
    Deane Johnson
    Participant

    I got 6 right and 2 wrong.

    #7899
    jr_tech
    Participant

    50/50…AARGH!

    #7900
    edselehr
    Participant

    Same here, Deane.

    #7901
    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    I don’t think that the Millennials have anything better to offer than the sensationalistic popcorn that commercial media is degrading into. I will go as far as to say that I don’t think that Millennials would know objectivity if it bit them in the behind (with the possible exception of those whose training is in science, mathematics, or economics) because they have grown up in a world of one-on-one communication and opinion-driven blogs and Websites. I fully appreciate my hypocrisy in writing the preceding opinion-based statement.

    I only scored 4/8 on the quiz. I had thought that creative works were solely the realm of humans because their production requires some experience in the subject matter (at least, this was my understanding of why there are child prodigies in music and mathematics but not in literature). I now see that I am wrong.

    #7902
    Deane Johnson
    Participant

    I sort of looked at the wording and tried to determine if is was more like a person might speak, or if it appeared mechanically structured. When all was said and done, it was just mostly guesswork.

    #7905
    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    I first eliminated the fact-based passages which could have been written by a fill-in-the-blank algorithm. That was successful. However, there were a few passages where I thought, there is no way that a machine could have written this, yet I was wrong.

    #7913
    QPatrickEdwards
    Participant

    Alfredo, I don’t think that the Millenials have anything better or more profound as far as producing content is concerned, it is just that their ways of getting content are so vastly different than what those of us who are older have been used to. This is practically a “Gutenberg Press” kind of seismic shift in the way people get information and entertainment.

    How many Millenials watch the big three network news? How about any major national news programme? We see the dearth in how “big media” presents news when guys like John Oliver, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert have more news “meat” in their comedy commentary than the typical nightly newscast.

    I see myself adopting much of the new media consumption habits, while spending much less time with the old. Most radio listening has ceased for me over the past few years, mostly doing podcasts now. (with the exception of listening to All Classical-Portland while we are driving around) The millenials that I know are doing the same thing — podcasts and Pandora. We haven’t had cable or pay satellite tv in years, most viewing is on the two Rokus we have or YouTube, with a bit of standard fare off the monstrous TV antenna aimed at Eugene.(And the new, cool delivery method from the SlingTV app-the ESPN channels plus a few others for a much smaller monthly fee than basic cable-nice to be able to see live sporting events)

    Information is getting easier to acquire. Quality presentation of that information is at times shaky, but getting better. Information consumers are no longer at the mercy of a few major gatekeepers now. Hopefully this will last, unless certain entities have their way in the struggle over net neutrality.

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