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Did A Computer Or A Human Write This?

According to the New York Times, “a shocking amount of what we’re reading is created not by humans, but by computer algorithms.”

Really? I had no idea.

I understand that spam bots generate a lot of web content that ends up going into filters and never sees the light of day. But I was surprised by the amount of real, quality writing that’s actually generated by computers and their fancy algorithms.

Here’s an example from a quiz on the Times’ site

“Kitty couldn’t fall asleep for a long time. Her nerves were strained as two tight strings, and even a glass of hot wine, that Vronsky made her drink, did not help her. Lying in bed she kept going over and over that monstrous scene at the meadow.”

That excerpt is part of the Russian novel True Love, which was written by a computer in St. Petersburg in 72 hours. A computer wrote a novel!

This brings a question to mind–if a piece of web content doesn’t have a byline, can you trust it? In the coming years, will a lot of uncredited content come from computer algorithms?

Go take a look at some examples at the New York Times. What do you think?

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24 Comments Post a comment
  1. That is unbelievable! I had no idea computers were writing BOOKS haha.

    I find it quite freaky and a bit sad if I’m honest. But technology out there at the moment is very exciting, undoubtedly!

    Thanks for posting this, very genuinely interesting 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    March 10, 2015
  2. Or it could be from a scene nicked from Anna Karenina? Vronsky, Kitty are obvious characters in Tolstoy’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 10, 2015
  3. I knew about these sites that rewrites content for you or summarizes it, but actually writing a novel? This is some stuff which is both unbelievable and sounds amazing! I’d have to say that it makes me sad, kinda but still, it’s some amazing shizz.

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  4. They’re coming for us.

    Liked by 3 people

    March 10, 2015
  5. And so it has begun; soon the computers will run things and we’ll be the slaves!

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  6. My computer, his name is Al. He writes all my material. Otherwise how could I come up with the stuff I come up with?

    Liked by 1 person

    March 10, 2015
  7. That is crazy. I don’t like it at all. When I read books I want to empathize with, and experience, the things humans go through.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 10, 2015
  8. It’s good, but not perfect; I’d eliminate the commas around “that Vronsky made here drink.” Then again, you said a computer in Russia wrote it, so perhaps the English is a translation, which would make slightly more sense.

    Nevertheless, this is better than some papers my students turn in!

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  9. Well this is both fascinating and terrifying! I thought that being a writer, I would never have to worry about my job being done by a computer. Well, I never really thought it but looks like I should’ve!
    Still, let them say what they may, literature is not an algorithm, it’s too chaotic to be an algorithm.

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  10. Jin Okubo #

    As if it wasn’t hard enough to sell my book, now computers are competition

    Like

    March 10, 2015
    • That’s what I was thinking. Maybe we can get computers to write proposals for us?

      Liked by 1 person

      March 10, 2015
  11. Are writers becoming obsolete?

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  12. Well that was depressing.
    By the way, I saw something at the library yesterday that made me think of you. I don’t think I can link because I get flagged as Spam but I just posted it on my blog.

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  13. Whoah!!

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  14. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Do you want computers writing your web content or a trained, skilled professional?

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  15. I barely got 5 correct answers out of 8 on the quiz. Which is testimony either to how great these machines are either to how illiterate I am.

    Still, I yet have to see a computer create something out of thin air.

    Tom

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  16. Laura #

    That’s kinda crazy! My husband has been saying for years he should write those stupid articles listing “10 ways to…whatever” because he thinks a computer could write it because there is rarely anything substantial in the content. Novels are another deal though.

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  17. It’s absolutely terrifying. Nothing to be cavalier about at all.

    Like

    March 11, 2015
  18. This may be the guilt I need to actually finish up a novel I am working on! If computers are writing, then there is no reason I can’t. Just have to do it.

    Wild & I was clueless.

    Like

    March 11, 2015
  19. Alexandra Provost #

    I had no idea! I have to admit that now I´m a little bit scared…

    Like

    March 12, 2015
  20. Aaron #

    I don’t think I like that much. I want there to be a person behind whatever it is that I’m reading. It’s kinda sad actually.

    Like

    March 13, 2015
  21. great, now computers are probably selling more books than me….crap.

    Like

    March 19, 2015
  22. Reblogged this on MiszPhanget.

    Like

    March 22, 2015

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