Friday, December 14, 2007

The Implications of AuthorBot

I like the idea of AuthorBot. Once I've learned enough, I'll at least make an attempt at PoetryBot, because people are generally more forgiving when your lines don't match up well (besides which, attempts have already been made for proof of concept). But more than AuthorBot, I like all the things that it could do that a normal person couldn't do as well.
  • Do you want someone to write a sequel to your favorite book? AuthorBot could analyze the writing patterns of that book, along with other novels that were written by the same author. It would be able to study sequels in general to find out what their common characteristics are. Then, once it had all this data, it would be able to extrapolate a new sequel to the book in question. It wouldn't have to stop with one sequel either - AuthorBot could write more and turn it into a trilogy, or a seven book cycle, or more.
  • There's already more books being published in a year than a person could read in a lifetime; with AuthorBot the number of books would be infinite.
  • This is not to say that a novel writing program would put all the human writers out of work. At least for now, there's a strong human repulsion to machines in any sort of creative or social context. Why? I'm not sure - some thoughts on that later.
  • If AuthorBot did write a sequel to a book, would this be a copyright violation? It would certainly be a derivative work. But if AuthorBot were sold as a program instead of as a service, then the book would only exist as potentiae, and it would no more be illegal to sell the program than it would be to sell a photocopier.
  • AuthorBot would have no artistic integrity. It's still not technically intelligent either, it just appears intelligent even on close inspection. As a result of not having any sort of morality, you could tell it to put out horrible dreck and modern masterpieces, and it would happily do either.
  • One way to make AuthorBot a lot more powerful would be to feed it metadata. Not only author's name, title of the work, year produced, and simple stuff like that, but also reviews, customer ratings, and things like that. This is already being done with Web 2.0 - it just needs a way to be fed in. It would also allow AuthorBot to know what books are "good" and what books are "bad", though it would likely find that those synonym groups depend on who's reviewing (which would lead to yet more clustering).
  • As mentioned previously, AuthorBot would be able to write in the style of another author - it would also be able to write when given certain criteria, such as a setting, time, theme, etc. This allows custom novels to be made to individual tastes.
  • On top of that, AuthorBot could scan a list in of authors that a person likes, and synthesize a novel that would appeal to their tastes (though it would have to fit the book into a cluster - while their are people who like Westerns and spy thrillers, combining the two wouldn't usually be the best way to go).
  • I don't really see AuthorBot being brought into the individual home. Because of how much power it would take to run it, I think that people more likely visit a website where they could order books that would either be micropublished or sent to an e-reader. The micropublishing option would cost more, of course.
  • Here's another thing; AuthorBot wouldn't have to care about copyrights, because it's dynamic instead of static. "Writing" a book would take comparatively little of its time. The real draw is its dynamic nature, so it might actually be best to let people freely share the e-book version to draw in more customers.

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