Blogging Birds

Communications of the ACM 

Blogging birds is a novel artificial intelligence program that generates creative texts to communicate telemetric data derived from satellite tags fitted to red kites -- a medium-size bird of prey -- as part of a species reintroduction program in the U.K. We address the challenge of communicating telemetric sensor data in real time by enriching it with meteorological and cartographic data, codifying ecological knowledge to allow creative interpretation of the behavior of individual birds in respect to such enriched data, and dynamically generating informative and engaging data-driven blogs aimed at the general public. Geospatial data is ubiquitous in today's world, with vast quantities of telemetric data collected by GPS receivers on, for example, smartphones and automotive black boxes. Adoption of telemetry has been particularly striking in the ecological realm, where the widespread use of satellite tags has greatly advanced our understanding of the natural world.14,23 Despite its increasing popularity, GPS telemetry involves the important shortcoming that both the handling and the interpretation of often large amounts of location data is time consuming and thus done mostly long after the data has been gathered.10,24 This hampers fruitful use of the data in nature conservation where immediate data analysis and interpretation are needed to take action or communicate to a wider audience.25,26 The widespread availability of GPS data, along with associated difficulties interpreting and communicating it in real time, mirrors the scenario seen with other forms of numeric or structured data. It should be noted that the use of computational methods for data analysis per se is hardly new; much of science depends on statistical analysis and associated visualization tools. However, it is generally understood that such tools are mediated by human operators who take responsibility for identifying patterns in data, as well as communicating them accurately.

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