In 2010, Kris Hammond, an experienced artificial intelligence researcher, and a few partners founded Narrative Science. The Chicago start-up’s software ingests and interprets numbers for things like investment holdings, billing records and sports statistics and transforms them into written summaries or stories.
From the outset, the company’s technology was promising, but the timing was tricky. It opened its doors the year before IBM’s Watson publicly demonstrated the potential of machine intelligence with its “Jeopardy!” victory.
“At the start, we didn’t call it artificial intelligence because A.I. was still in disrepute,” recalled Mr. Hammond, chief scientist for Narrative Science.