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Computers Write Novels Faster Than You Do

Silicon chips don’t suffer writer’s block

(Seth Anderson)
smithsonian.com

Each November, hundreds of thousands of writers take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)—the goal of which is to pump out a 50,000 word novel in one month. But this year and last, some creative types took a different tack to getting novels made. Rather than bleeding their souls on to the page, some aspiring authors with coding savvy used computers to do the writing for them, says the Verge.

Known as National Novel Generation Month, or NaNoGenMo, the spin-off event saw programers work to write code that would, in turn, write a novel.

Last year, says the Stranger, the results were often disjointed, robotic scripts. Yet some of the computer-generated novels were published, says the Verge, including one by MIT professor Nick Montfort.

“[R]eading an entire generated novel is more a feat of endurance than a testament to the quality of the story, which tends to be choppy, flat, or incoherent by the standards of human writing,” says the Verge. But there's no guarantee of quality in NaNoWriMo proper, either, and there's probably less risk of emergent cryptozoological erotica.

Of the computer-generated novels, says the Stranger, “[s]ome of them seem virtually indistinguishable from a certain kind of contemporary novel, à la Tao Lin. Others read remarkably like a sentient person's dream journal.”

Creative and artistic feats are often seen as the last refuge for human endeavor from the coming robot apocalypse. But if NaNoGenMo gains a foothold and improves, at least we'll all be well entertained in our unemployment.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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