Computers to Replace Novelists?

Posted on November 22, 2004

So far writers have had it pretty easy in the digital age. Word processing software and computers make it easier for journalists and authors to correct mistakes and put together articles and novels. But could computers eventually take all of our jobs? Not yet, but some primitive forms of writing bots are already emerging. In his must-read New York Times essay called, "Computers as Authors? Literary Luddites Unite!" Daniel Akst points out a few of the threats on the horizon.

One writing bot named Brutus.1 wrote this text, "Dave Striver loved the university - its ivy-covered clocktowers, its ancient and sturdy brick, and its sun-splashed verdant greens and eager youth. The university, contrary to popular opinion, is far from free of the stark unforgiving trials of the business world: academia has its own tests, and some are as merciless as any in the marketplace. A prime example is the dissertation defense: to earn the Ph.D., to become a doctor, one must pass an oral examination on one's dissertation. This was a test Professor Edward Hart enjoyed giving."

A program called StoryBook (also called a "narrative prose generation system") can put text together into decent paragraphs and stories -- although the text itself was created by human beings. In the end of his essay Akst provides some quotes from experts reassuring us that it is statistically impossible for a computer to write a good novel. Well, we at Writers Write can guarantee you that a computer will never write a highly-acclaimed novel -- so long as humans are still writing the reviews!

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