You might think writing 10,000 articles per day would be impossible. But not for a Swede named Sverker Johansson. He created a computer program that has written a total of 2.7 million articles, making Johansson the most prolific author, by far, on the “internet’s encyclopedia.” His contributions account for 8.5 percent of the articles on Wikipedia, the Wall Street Journal reports.
But how can a bot write so many articles, and do it coherently? As Johansson–a science teacher with degrees in linguistics, civil engineering, economics and particle physics–explained to the WSJ, the bot scrapes information from various trusted sources, and then cobbles that material together, typically into a very short entry, or “stub.” Many of the articles cover the taxonomy of little-known animals such as butterflies and beetles, and also small towns in the Philippines (his wife is Filipina).
Johansson’s creation, known as Lsjbot, is certainly not the only bot to write articles meant for human eyes. For example, the Associated Press just announced that it will use robots to write thousands of pieces, and other news outlets use programs to write articles, especially finance and sports stories. And on Wikipedia, half of all of the edits are made by bots.
Several long-time members of Wikipedia are not happy that so many articles are being written by non-humans. But Johansson defends his bot, pointing out that the articles it writes are accurate (although there have been some glitches that he claims have been corrected), and can very useful. For example, Lsjbot wrote a stub about the town of Basey, in the Philippines. When Typhoon Yolanda hit the town, causing deaths, people were able to visit this stub and find out more about the town and its location.