Lee Ferran is an award-winning investigative journalist focusing on foreign affairs, national security and cyber security. He is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Code and Dagger.


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Exclusive: This Intelligence Report Was Written by an Algorithm

Feb. 14, 2018 - At first glance, the intelligence report is remarkable in that it looks unremarkable. There is a thesis statement, followed by some key supporting information, all clearly laid out in complete, legible sentences.

Only on closer inspection does the language betray the document: an odd arrangement of facts and anecdotes, colorful descriptions not typically found in dry analysis, the clumsy introduction of subjects that are suddenly abandoned and, overall, sentences that don’t seem to follow each other.

A news editor would be appalled by the jumble, but officials at the nation’s lead spy agency were elated by it for a simple reason. The report was written not by a human, but by an algorithm, and in just a few seconds.