Language

AI learns to write headlines (but not this one)

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

One of the most frustrating parts of journalism is writing headlines — they need to be pithy and smart, drawing in readers but not infuriating them with cheap clickbait.

What's new: Perhaps the simplest solution is to summarize an article as efficiently as possible. And because machines are getting increasingly good at that, AI headline writers can now nearly instantly generate titles that outshine even some human-made ones.

English has the scientific edge — for now

In illustration of a man gesturing while giving a speech to an audience
British scientist Michael Faraday addresses the Royal Institution in London in 1855, in a painting by Alexander Blaikley. Photo: Rischgitz/Getty

For centuries, science was a multilingual affair, powered by French, German, English and other tongues. But since the early 1970s, English has become the undisputed lingua franca of scientific papers, conferences, and discourse.

Why it matters: English-speaking countries now have a huge leg up in technical research, including the current rages — artificial intelligence and quantum computing. But, while English is highly unlikely to be dethroned, its advantages are eroding due to an increasingly healthy research environment in China, the fast transmission of research papers across the internet, and AI-aided translation technology that is shrinking the language barrier.