Increase Your Bottom Line: Cut Those Pesky Writers Out

Randa sends a link to this essay by Daniel Akst, where he wonders whether current advances in technology might not allow computers to write fiction in the near future. Two programs are cited (Brutus 1 and StoryBook) and though the passages they’ve written aren’t earth-shaking, they’re still pretty decent. No need to worry, though, Akst says.

That no computer has yet written the Great American Novel may be because computers are subject to some of the same handicaps that afflict human writers. First, writing is hard! Although computers can work unhindered by free will, bourbon or divorce, such advantages are outweighed by a lack of life experience or emotions. Second, and all too familiar to living writers of fiction, there is no money in it. Unable to teach creative writing or marry rich, computers have to depend on research grants. And why would anyone pay for a computer to do something that humans can still do better for peanuts?

And, Akst says, while the passages make for amusing reading, they certainly don’t strike by the power of their imagination.