A computer wrote this entire newsletter. How did it do?

Plus: What is the future of Charlotte?; Banking for the future; Why the housing market is booming in Charlotte; Top 11 places you must visit in Charlotte


To demonstrate just how far artificial intelligence has come, we have assembled an entire edition of The Charlotte Ledger written by a computer.

Starting with the next section of this newsletter, a computer using artificial intelligence wrote everything, with our assistance. We provided the article topics — artificial intelligence in writing, Charlotte’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the future of Bank of America, why Charlotte’s housing market is booming and 11 things to do in Charlotte — and a program we found called Conversion.ai did almost everything else, including suggesting headlines, story structure and the actual words.

How we did it:

  • When you give it a little bit of direction, Conversion.ai searches the internet for relevant information and, using an algorithm, suggests language that fits the specifications we provided. Conversion.ai is a paid program that costs $109/month. It has named its computer writer “Jarvis.” (Jarvis also wrote the pumped-up descriptions of our two sponsors of this newsletter, and thanks to them for playing along. We also used Jarvis’ “content improver” feature, which rewrote the basic information about The Ledger that’s contained in every newsletter.)

  • The briefs at the end are summaries of recent news articles from other Charlotte media by the free version of a program called Quillbot. (We selected the pieces it summarized.)

  • In the rest of this issue, we humans provided some light editing for grammar and punctuation and formatted the text, and we dropped in a couple photos. Jarvis wrote the captions.

To be safe, we ran Jarvis’ writing through an online plagiarism finder called DupliChecker, which confirmed that the language was unique and not lifted sentence-by-sentence from elsewhere.

This version of The Ledger took about an hour to produce — much, much less than our typical newsletter. We’ll let you judge its quality and accuracy and discover some of its more obvious quirks and errors. But don’t worry: This is a one-time experiment. Jarvis is used mostly for marketing materials and blogs that rehash information readily available online, not for time-sensitive news and analysis derived from humans, which is mostly what we do.

As you will see, computers are incapable of producing original reported material … at least so far.

—Tony Mecia, human; executive editor of The Charlotte Ledger

The Charlotte Ledger is all about keeping Charlotteans abreast of the latest this Internet-of-Things age has to offer. From buzzing technology trends and savvy social media tips to exploring the latest in personal interest, The Charlotte Ledger's newsletter covers it all.

Today’s Charlotte Ledger is sponsored by T.R. Lawing Realty, which has been serving the Charlotte region for over 50 years, providing comprehensive property management services to both investors and tenants alike. Our commitment is to provide service that exceeds expectations every day!

Artificial intelligence: Can computers replace human writers?

Artificial intelligence is getting smarter. It can do things like write articles. But it cannot replace humans yet.

by Jarvis

Artificial intelligence has made huge strides in recent years. Computers are now able to do things that were unthinkable only a few decades ago, such as recognize faces and voice commands, or even drive cars. Artificial intelligence is even affecting the writing industry. Can computers can replace human writers for good?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that deals with the creation and study of intelligent agents, or systems capable of carrying out tasks which are normally within the range of human capabilities.

There are already several platforms that use AI to write articles. A good example is Narrative Science, which uses natural language generation (NLG) technology to transform data into stories and reports for its clients like Forbes, the New York Times and other various media organizations.

News media are using NLG in a variety of ways. For instance, the Associated Press is using it to write more than 600,000 articles per quarter. The Washington Post has also been working with Narrative Science for two years, and while they’re still using human writers as well, the AI system has already written more than 800 articles.

It’s not just news outlets; other companies such as Nike, United Airlines and even television producers like Fox Broadcasting Co. have all started using AI in some form or another to generate text-based content about themselves. There are many reasons why these organizations might be adopting this technology: It can create large volumes of copy quickly which would otherwise take a team of writers months to produce at scale.

For social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook, which require fresh posts every few minutes, AI has offered the opportunity to post new content 24/7 without having to rely on human input for updates.

The benefit of using AI for writing is that it can produce stories in an infinite number of angles and lengths, it’s faster than human writers, and it is better at structuring information.

However, the drawbacks of using AI for writing are that are that it can be biased, and it cannot create stories from scratch. In addition, human writers can write about topics that AI cannot.

But capability of computers to generate stories in an infinite number of angles and lengths could make human writers more efficient by taking on some of their workload while they continue doing what they do best: create new ideas and content.

AI can be used for a variety of tasks in digital marketing, but the best way to use it is sparingly. If you’re considering using artificial intelligence for your writing needs, keep these pros and cons in mind before making that decision. While there are benefits to using this advanced technology, such as being able to scale content creation, there are potential drawbacks, too.

Today’s supporting sponsor is Landon A. Dunn, attorney-at-law in Matthews. She has made serving the needs of clients a priority and has successfully advocated to protect your rights every single day using justice as a guide.

What’s in the plan for our future?

Charlotte’s Comprehensive Plan, or 2040 plan, will be voted on by the City Council this month. It is a document that outlines the city’s vision for how it wants to grow in the coming decades. This article takes a look at what citizens should know about the plan.

What is Charlotte’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan and what does it include?

The 2040 Comprehensive Plan is a document that outlines the city’s vision for how it wants to grow in coming decades. The plan includes four parts: short-term actions, long-term goals and policies, land use analysis and tools to implement the plans.

Why should you care about this plan

The reason you should care about the 2040 Plan is because it will dictate the city’s future. It includes plans for neighborhoods and housing, transportation networks, parks and open spaces, economic development strategies, cultural amenities, environmental quality goals as well as how Charlotte should handle growth in new ways to promote equity.

How is this new plan different than previous plans?

Although Charlotte has had different plans in the past, the 2040 Plan is unique because it is the first comprehensive plan including long-term goals. It also takes a different approach by focusing on equity and sustainability in addition to economic growth.

The Charlotte City Council will vote on the 2040 Plan this month. Residents are encouraged to read about it and share their thoughts with the council members, so they know what you want. —Jarvis


Bank of America: challenges and opportunities in the post-Covid era

The world is emerging from the Covid pandemic, and Bank of America has a lot on its plate. The company’s challenges are many: how to keep up with evolving consumer demands, how to stay competitive in the age of cyber security and how to make sure that it doesn’t lose any ground as other banks rise in prominence.

Banks have been working hard to recover from the Covid pandemic, but they are still very much challenged. There has been a noticeable shift in consumer preferences over the last two years; while these changes may not be as visible yet, banks should plan for them now so that they won’t fall behind when it’s time to make updates.

A new study has found that millennials are turning away from traditional banking methods, and this is something banks should be aware of. In addition to this change in consumer preference, there’s the issue of cyber security — with more people using online payment systems for everything from groceries to rent payments, hackers have a lot of opportunities as well.

Still, banks have some opportunities in the post-Covid era. The data collected on customers is a prime example of this — with more sources for banking information than ever before, banks are able to offer better tailored products and services.

In addition to having a well-trained, informed staff that can help customers overcome challenges such as losing their debit card or forgetting passwords for online banking, banks need to be vigilant about protecting consumer data. They also must adapt quickly and efficiently in order to stay ahead of customer needs.

Bank of America, headquartered in Charlotte, is not immune to the challenges that other banks are facing. However, it has a history of adapting quickly and efficiently so as to meet customer needs.

It is a new era for banks. The Covid pandemic has changed everything, and most banks are struggling to keep up. But as long as they can adapt quickly in order to meet the needs of customers, there is hope for the future. —Jarvis

Why Charlotte’s housing market is surging

Charlotte’s housing market is booming, with home prices and rents surging. The city has seen an increase in demand for homes over the past few years, with more people moving to Charlotte than any other U.S. metro area since 2010, according to a recent Forbes article.

But why?

  • Unprecedented population growth. Charlotte’s housing market is surging because there are a lot of new houses coming on to the market and not enough inventory for buyers who need homes quickly. Plus, we have an unprecedented population growth that makes it difficult for builders to keep up with demand ... so prices are going up!

  • An abundance of new jobs. New jobs in Charlotte have increased the demand for housing at a rate that exceeds what builders can provide, which is leading to higher home prices.

  • Low interest rates on mortgages. When interest rates are low, people are more inclined to buy a home, driving up demand and increasing prices. As of last month, interest rates were at an all-time low of about 3%, which means there’s a lot of incentive to buy.

  • Strong income growth among millennials and baby boomers alike. While this might seem like a double-edged sword, the reality is that we have two generations of people who are well-established in their careers and earning more.

Housing prices in Charlotte are rising because of a number of factors, and the trend is not likely to slow down anytime soon. —Jarvis

11 things to do in Charlotte

Charlotte is a city full of rich history, beautiful scenery and diverse neighborhoods. Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation or an exciting night on the town, there’s something for everyone in Charlotte! In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 11 things to do to make the most out of your next visit.

  1. Visit the Billy Graham Library: The library offers free admission and houses more than 60 years worth of archives from Rev. Billy Graham’s ministry.

  2. Shop at Northlake Mall: Northlake Mall features over 200 stores including Macy’s, Sears, JCPenney and Dick’s Sporting Goods with many retailers offering deals throughout the year.

    Northlake Mall is a busy place. There are many stores, movies and restaurants there. It's an interesting place to go because it has so much to do.

  3. Go see a Hornets game: Charlotte has a professional basketball team, the Charlotte Hornets, who have been playing in their new arena since 2005 and regularly rank near the top of NBA attendance.

  4. Consider buying a home: Charlotte has some of the best schools nationwide as well as affordable housing options for all price ranges!

  5. Go for a hike at Crowders Mountain State Park: This 500-acre park offers more than 15 miles of hiking trails and a ridge line that provides views for up to 50 miles.

  6. Go to brunch: No weekend in Charlotte is complete without enjoying brunch. It’s not a weekend in Charlotte without enjoying some delicious waffles, pancakes and French toast at one of the best brunch spots!

  7. Want to go for a drive? Take a scenic drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road connects Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  8. Looking for some history? Head to The Levine Museum of the New South. This museum offers a multimedia experience that shows how Charlotte and other Southern cities have evolved over time.

  9. See some art at McColl Center for Art + Innovation. There are always new exhibits on display with something for everyone, so make sure not to miss it when you’re in town.

  10. Take a walk through Olde Towne East Neighborhood. Explore downtown Charlotte in its historic neighborhood, where residents still live within walking distance of their workplaces or schools.

  11. Eat at Carrabba’s Italian Grill: We couldn’t finish off our list without including something for everyone. Whether it be family friendly dining, date night or even just grabbing some great takeout food, order from your favorite restaurant today.

If you live in Charlotte and want to know what there is to do around the city, this blog post has got your back. Whether it’s just for a few hours or an entire day of fun with family and friends, there really is something for everyone! —Jarvis

In brief

  • Airport lines: Travelers say security lines were long at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Friday night. “There were just so many people, and people didn’t know where to go,” traveler Amy Mann said. TSA is struggling with a shortage of staff to deal with the surge in passengers. “I’m so glad we are able to fly, but this just kind of sucks. We weren’t prepared for it,” one traveler said. (WSOC)

  • Key meeting Monday: Mecklenburg County commissioners and the school district are fighting over $56M. The county says the money is being used as an incentive to get failing schools passing. The school district says the layoffs could be coming if the money isn’t there. Monday’s meeting could be the last step before a lawsuit is filed against the county. County commissioners say more needs to be done to address achievement gaps in the county. They want specifics. (Fox 46)

  • Heart donor match: Greg Olsen’s son TJ was born with a congenital heart defect. He has had three open-heart surgeries and lived with a modified heart for eight years. The former Carolina Panther tight end tweeted that there was a donor match. (WBTV)

  • Vaccine update: North Carolina turns down requests for more vaccines for the first time since they became available in December 2020. The state has a surplus of nearly 2.4 million vaccines waiting for residents to take. Nearly 4 in 5 North Carolinians who are at least 65 years old have completed their vaccine cycle. North Carolina on Friday crossed the threshold of most adult residents being fully vaccinated. The move comes as the state nears an announcement on additional financial incentives to boost vaccine participation. (Associated Press)

  • Duckling rescue: Michael Plumides saw a mother duck quaking and her babies trapped in a Charlotte storm drain. He jumped in the drain and lifted the grate to free the baby ducklings. The mother duck stopped quaking after she was reunited with her babies. Plumides hopes the act will inspire others to remember how important it is to be kind to animals. “My perspective is: You have to help the little things,” he said. (WCNC)

  • Young home buyers: Millennials still make up the majority of homebuyers in Charlotte, but the number of Gen-Z buyers is growing. The median home sales price in Charlotte is $315,000, and the average list price in April was $416,042. Millennials and Gen-Xers have nearly twice as much income and are taking out loans around $410,000. The demand for residential real estate in Charlotte spans all generations, even the youngest young professionals. The average loan amount is $255,445. (Axios Charlotte)

  • Ice cream shop: Golden Cow Creamery announced it’s opening its new uptown Charlotte location on Monday. The ice cream shop was founded by North Carolina natives Alex and Liz Hannah. The owners say they’re “thrilled for the opportunity to share our ice cream with more of our neighbors.” You’ll also find the newly launched Golden Waffles concept at the uptown location. The creamery supports the community through The Queen’s Share program, a program where a portion of profits are donated to various local charities. The shop’s most coveted flavors include Salted Oreo and Oreo. (CharlotteFive)

Loves me some internet: Computer-generated edition

(Made by artificial intelligence on imgflip.com)

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Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire, CXN Advisory; Reporting intern: Lindsey Banks

OK, Tony here again. What did you think? Drop us a line and let us (and Jarvis) know