17 July 2014
Published 17 July 2014
Given that humans have been telling stories since the 19th century, can Google program computers to do this?
Google has been working on a product called 'Stories' so that computers can help form narratives based on photos uploaded by users to Google+ and they then automatically package them up into narratives.
Storytelling is second nature to us, humans but it's a challenge for Google, despite the vast array of information it has on it's users.
The Atlantic talked to the small team at Google behind this project.
"You come back from a trip with 300 photos and no one is trying to help you do anything with them," said Google social web engineer Joseph Smarr. "You think about how people deal with that, and the main way is to not share anything. The second biggest thing is to share one little vignette or Instagram. Or the worst thing is they dump the whole 300 photos in an album. And that doesn't tell a story in a meaningful way. It's just a series of pictures. It's just a monotone drum beat with no fills: boom-boom-boom-boom."
"We're trying to present the essence of the thing," Smarr said, "and it is harder to distill the essence than it is to regurgitate the user's data back at them."