Thursday, 7 August 2014

Competition in the 21st Century

Margaret Sarlej, at the University of New South Wales, has devised a programme that enables computers to generate simple stories. In a statement that may cause some concern to authors, she claims "computers will be making interesting and meaningful contributions to literature within the decade", although she does go on to admit that "it's pretty unlikely a computer will ever produce works like War and Peace."

For those of you who are interested in what, to some, raises a dystopian view of the future, here is an example of one such story, 'written' by a computer.

Once upon a time there lived a dragon, a fairy and a princess. The dragon hated the fairy. 
One summer's morning the dragon gave the treasure to the princess. As a result, the princess had the treasure. The princess felt joy that she had the treasure. The princess felt gratitude towards the dragon about giving the treasure to her because she had the treasure. The fairy and the princess started to love the dragon. 
A short time later the princess killed the fairy. As a result, the fairy was dead. The dragon felt joy that the fairy was dead. The dragon felt gratitude towards the princess about killing the fairy because the fairy was dead.  

Yes, it's pretty silly. But substitute king for dragon, and wicked queen for fairy, and it starts to make sense.

Once upon a time there lived a king, a wicked queen and a princess. The king hated the wicked queen. One summer's morning the king gave the treasure to the princess. As a result, the princess had the treasure. The princess felt joy that she had the treasure. The princess felt gratitude towards the king because she had the treasure. The wicked queen and the princess started to love the king. 
A short time later the princess killed the wicked queen. The king felt joy that the wicked queen was dead. The king felt gratitude towards the princess about killing the wicked queen.

A child of seven could write that. Give the child ten years and they would be writing something rather more sophisticated. They wouldn't come up with anything quite War and Peace, perhaps, but would be writing a decent story within the decade. Just like a computer, in fact.

6 comments:

Gordon Brice said...

What a lot of cr**. I'm sorry...no I'm not sorry...it will never catch on using that type of dialogue.Clever it may be, but it certainly does not make good reading material, whatever substitutes are made.

fizzycat said...

Don't really think this will be a problem if the stories remain so.
Oddly this article made me think of fan fiction,the type written and published in book form as a tribute to an author.
If a computer could be programmed to write in the style of an author,hmm might be different.

Leigh Russell said...

Oh my, is that the lovely Mr Gordon Brice using bad language! I agree, Gordon,it won't catch on. Still... you never know...

Leigh Russell said...

Hi fizzycat, my old friend. I haven't heard from you in a long while... thanks for dropping by :-) It's good to hear from you.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

That won't sell on Amazon, so it's a non-issue, Leigh. :)

Leigh Russell said...

Who knows, Bernard... but I'm sure you're right. Thanks for commenting!