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9.15.2011

Computers Can Write Better Than You!...Now What?

The other day I was watched the documentary Transcendent Man. It was a bio-doc about futurist Ray Kurzweil who predicts that (in a nutshell) computers and robots will take over the universe and we are all doomed unless we become cyborgs (again, nutshell).

My question at the time was: but can a robot/computer ever write...say, War and Peace, Don Quixote, heck, can a computer write Angel and Demons?

This NYTimes article might point to: maybe.

The article explores Narrative Science, an venture that "transforms data into high-quality editorial content," says its website. Using text and number data sets and algorithms and A.I. it writes new stories.

Some news corporations have already jumped on board. The results?:

Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in a 51-17 win over UNLV on Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers scored 20 points in the first quarter on a Russell Wilson touchdown pass, a Montee Ball touchdown run and a James White touchdown run.
Wisconsin’s offense dominated the Rebels’ defense. The Badgers racked up 499 total yards in the game including 258 yards passing and 251 yards on the ground.
Ball ran for 63 yards and three touchdowns for the Badgers. He also caught two passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson completed 10-of-13 passes for 255 for Wisconsin. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Caleb Herring threw for 146 yards on 18-of-27 passing. Herring tossed two touchdowns and no interceptions.
UNLV had 292 total yards. In addition to Herring’s efforts through the air, the running game also contributed 146 yards for the Rebels.

Not too shabby, for a sports report. Mainly, it's been used for that. Also, financials. While there have been computer programs out that have been able to "write" articles, it was mainly fill-in the blanks. This one, however, is focused on composition.

Does this give writers, particularly creative writers a run for their money?

Me? I'm putting my money on Stephenie Meyer being a robot/vampire/werewolf/Mormom/moron superhybrid.

The article does end like this:

“In five years,” he says, “a computer program will win a Pulitzer Prize — and I’ll be damned if it’s not our technology.”

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