Aging Apps

Portrait of the Artist as an Old and Young Man, courtesy of an aging app.

I hate when people say, “Age is only a number.”  It’s as if they’re trying to dilute themselves with the shabby math. To my ear, such turns of phrase underscore our country’s clinical obsession with youth—read: an abhorrence of the aged and aging. I used to assume this was just one side of a spectrum,…… Continue reading Aging Apps

AI Writing Obituaries

‘A’ BEFORE ‘I’: A screenshot of a bot writing my column.

Last week I received some trade-pub spam from Editor & Publisher topped by the headline: “Optimizing obituaries to drive traffic and increase revenue.” Ugh. I’m all for driving traffic and increasing revenue, but not as a digital grave robber. Reconciling how our words are read by both humans and the search bots that feed them is par…… Continue reading AI Writing Obituaries

Herb Caen Never Had to Make an Em Dash on a Chromebook

Those of a certain generation may recall Herb Caen, the erstwhile?San Francisco Chronicle?columnist who anchored the Macy?s ad next to his daily forays into what he called ?three dot journalism.? I never met Caen but my mother, when a bank VP, retained his services as an on-call personality. This was during the rollicking ?90s when…… Continue reading Herb Caen Never Had to Make an Em Dash on a Chromebook

Literary Criticism by Robots

Writers who fear that computers will someday displace them may shudder to learn that the machines won?t just write the books, they will read them too. In recent months, both researchers and literary critics are harnessing computational power to ?read? books in an effort to divine qualities human writers and readers haven?t the bandwidth to…… Continue reading Literary Criticism by Robots

Narrative Science Robots Want My Job

When I first learned about Chicago-based Narrative Science, the smallest, weakest part of my ego caught flame and soon an inferno of doubt engulfed my every thought. The firm’s artificial intelligence algorithms combine “business analytics” and “natural language communication” in a manner that makes raw data easily consumable. Basically, they’ve taught robots to write news…… Continue reading Narrative Science Robots Want My Job

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