From the BBC:
Machines can already drive trains, beat humans at chess and conduct countless other tasks. But what happens if technology starts getting more creative – can a machine ever win the Booker Prize for fiction?
In George Orwell’s fiction, by 1984 the “proles” were entertained by books produced by a machine.
In real life, robots have been capable of writing a version of love letters for over 60 years.
But how far away are books written by robots?
Well they have already happened, in their hundreds of thousands.
Professor Philip Parker, of Insead business school, created software that has generated over 200,000 books, on as varied topics as 60 milligram containers of fromage frais to a Romanian crossword guide.
Amazon currently lists over 100,000 titles under his name.
. . . .
Fiction is often criticised for being a factory process of using formula and “write by numbers” approaches. Creative writing programmes have been likened to working “from a pattern book” by Booker-nominated author Will Self.
Certain pieces of writing software provide templates that will automatically create the structure of a novel and once written, can tell you how easy the novel is to read.
“No novel writing package will write your book for you,” says software firm NewNovelist.
“They certainly can help you complete your novel and make sure it is composed correctly.”
. . . .
Russian Alexander Prokopovich is said to be responsible for the first successful book to be created by robots. It was published in 2008 and was written in the style of Japanese author Haruki Murakami in a variation on Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
. . . .
Prof Parker’s software, still in prototype, would allow characters to be decided, locations to be set, genre fixed and plot mechanisms chosen. It then creates anything from 3,000-word flash fiction to a 300,000-word novel.
He has even done public experiments with poetry.
“A computer works very well with rules and the most obvious way is poetry,” he says.
“We did a blind test between a Shakespearean sonnet and one that the computer had written. A majority of people surveyed preferred ours.
“That’s not to say it was better, Shakespeare is a genius, but it was what people preferred.”
. . . .
“The idea of a computer winning the Nobel Prize for physics is not too unlikely, citing a computer as joint recipient. It’s obviously not a huge leap to think of something similar happening in fiction.”
Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to Brendan for the tip.