November 12–13, 2015  •  San Francisco, CA
Kristian Hammond

Kristian Hammond
Professor, Northwestern Computer Science


Kristian Hammond likes to assure journalists that their jobs won’t be replaced by his company’s software. But the crisp dispatches of high school baseball games or financial earnings results from Narrative Science’s autonomous article writing engine certainly seem to be edging humans out of the business. Hammond, who studied artificial intelligence under the legendary Roger Schank at Yale, realized the potential of autonomous article-writing while teaching a data and journalism class at Northwestern and in 2010, co-founded Narrative Science. While currently limiting itself to data-rich domains, Hammond sees vast potential. “In 20 years,’ he says, “there will be no area in which Narrative Science doesn’t write stories.”

— Steven Levy

Quotes from Kristian

We are now in a world where we have massive, massive data sets available to us. And very few people can actually understand what they mean. So we started to think of ourselves and the technology as a conduit for information.

The role of language in intelligence systems is crucial if we are to work with them as partners in the workplace.

Answers alone don’t make us smarter, answers and communication—that’s actually what we think the future of collaboration with intelligence systems is going to look like.

We have built a system that looks at the data, figures out where the story lies in it, pulls that data out, analyses it in the right way, and converts it into language the CEO will understand.

AI tech is entering the era of the narrative. These are narratives generated by systems that understand data, that give us information to support the decisions we need to make about tomorrow.

We don’t all have to become data scientists in order to work with the machine. The machine needs to become more human and work with us.


In addition to being Narrative Science’s chief scientist, Kris is a professor of computer science and journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to joining the faculty at Northwestern, Kris founded the University of Chicago’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His research has been primarily focused on artificial intelligence, machine-generated content, and context-driven information systems. Kris currently sits on a United Nations policy committee run by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). Kris received his PhD from Yale. Kris was also named 2014 Innovator of the Year by the Best in Biz Awards, and recently published a book, Practical Artificial Intelligence for Dummies.

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