CIA invests in robot journalism

All Things D

Narrative Science has "raised an undisclosed amount of funding from In-Q-Tel, the venture firm that invests on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency, Peter Kafka reports.

In-Q-Tel also invests on behalf of other intelligence agencies. It was named after the James Bond character Q.

Narrative Science is somewhat known in journalism circles for its automated sports and finance articles, but in a fascinating profile last year, Steven Levy wrote about how the company "realized that it could produce much more than journalism."

Indeed, anyone who needed to translate and explain large sets of data could benefit from its services. Requests poured in from people who were buried in spreadsheets and charts. It turned out that those people would pay to convert all that confusing information into a couple of readable paragraphs that hit the key points.

In regard to intelligence agencies, Kafka writes, "you can imagine lots of places where Narrative Science could go to work."

Those guys have a lot of data, and it would probably be helpful to have some of that sorted into sentences and summaries. It’d be great to show you an example of that work, but obviously that’s not gonna happen.

In 2009 In-Q-Tel invested in Visible Technologies, a company that monitors social media, blogs and other forms of online communication.

Previously: Journalists debate value of robots | 5 ways robots can improve accuracy, journalism quality | Prepare yourself for robot editors

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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